The bad news out of Rockies camp Monday was that $70 million offseason acquisition Ian Desmond would need surgery for a fracture of the second metacarpal bone in his left hand.
There was more bad news on Tuesday.
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Tom Murphy, who entered spring training in a winnable competition for the Rockies’ starting catcher gig, has been diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his right forearm and is going to be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks. He suffered the injury Sunday when he tried to make a throw to second base in a Cactus League game and banged his arm against Anthony Rizzo’s bat. This means Tony Wolters will open the 2017 regular season as Colorado’s primary backstop, with Dustin Garneau likely backing him up.
Wolters carries very little fantasy upside as a guy who slashed .258/.334/.349 over 1,877 career plate appearances in the minor leagues. Garneau went 2-for-3 with a double during Tuesday’s comeback win over the Athletics and he’s batting .400 with a 1.526 OPS through 19 plate appearances this spring in the Cactus League, but he probably won’t get enough starts in April to warrant consideration in standard fantasy formats.
Murphy was the catcher fantasy enthusiasts were rooting for here. He slashed .327/.361/.647 with 19 home runs in 80 games last season for Triple-A Albuquerque and then kept that offensive momentum rolling when the Rockies promoted him to the majors in September and found him regular action down the stretch. The 25-year-old boasts a .949 OPS with eight home runs and 22 RBI in 32 career major league games dating back to his debut in late 2015.
It’s probably a situation to avoid now as draft season gets underway. Murphy is maybe worth a late-round stash.
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Holland Cleared For Spring Debut
It’s not all doom and gloom this week at Rockies camp.
Greg Holland, signed to a one-year, $7 million free agent contract in late January, is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on Wednesday afternoon at Silver River Fields against the visiting Brewers. He’ll follow Kyle Freeland and German Marquez in the exhibition game.
This will be Holland’s first live appearance since September 18, 2015, when his right elbow began barking and the Royals turned to Wade Davis at closer. Holland would eventually undergo Tommy John surgery and had to watch from the side as Davis led Kansas City to the 2015 World Series title a month or so later.
Holland drew interest from a range of major league clubs this winter as a 29-year-old with a 2.42 ERA and 430 strikeouts in 319 2/3 career major league innings. He also has 145 career saves, and the Rockies are likely to use him at closer if he is 100 percent when the 2017 regular season opens, per Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Adam Ottavino is still in the running for that job for now. It's among the camp battles we're analyzing closely this spring as we make constant updates to the Rotoworld Online Draft Guide.
Donaldson, Travis Are Coming Along
We’ve got a couple of important health updates from Blue Jays camp in Dunedin, Florida.
Josh Donaldson, who suffered a right calf strain in one of the Jays’ first workouts of the spring, took four at-bats as a designated hitter Tuesday in a minor league game and came out of it feeling fine. He went 1-for-4. Donaldson should be cleared for Grapefruit League action by the end of this week, though he might not begin playing third base until next week. The feeling is he’ll be somewhere close to full strength by the opening of the 2017 regular season, keeping him a safe first-round pick in all fantasy leagues.
Devon Travis also participated in that minor league game and also went 1-for-4. The second baseman has been eased into action this spring after requiring surgery in November for his balky right knee. He’s a bit iffier for Opening Day than Donaldson, but it sounds like the Blue Jays are currently optimistic. Travis has been a fairly productive fantasy commodity when healthy, and he carries sneaky fantasy value into 2017 as Toronto's probable leadoff man.
Keep a close eye on the Rotoworld player news page over the next 19 days as we track both stories.
Rays Near Big Extension With Kiermaier
As first reported by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays are nearing a contract extension with center fielder Kevin Kiermaier worth more than $50 million over at least six years. Official terms should come later this week.
Kiermaier is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball -- if not the very best -- and he showcased his significant fantasy upside in 2016 with 12 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 105 games. His on-base percentage rose from .298 in 2015 to .331 last season. I discussed Kiermaier's progression with Topkin in our Rays Check-In episode of the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast.
The 26-year-old was due to make $2.975 million this year, his first year of arbitration eligibility as a Super 2.
Quick Hits: Red Sox manager John Farrell acknowledged Tuesday that David Price (elbow) will begin the season on the disabled list … Carlos Carrasco will miss his next Cactus League start due to right elbow swelling … A.J. Pollock said Tuesday that his left groin injury is "more of a cramp than anything" and that he feels "great” … Jason Kipnis will get a second opinion from Dr. Keith Meister on his ailing right shoulder at the end of this week … David Wright (shoulder) has resumed taking ground balls … Yoenis Cespedes hit his fifth spring homer to lead the Mets over the Astros on Tuesday … Michael Brantley (shoulder) is scheduled to play in minor league games on Wednesday and Friday … ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Rays "continue to have conversations about adding catcher Derek Norris … Corey Dickerson raised his spring average to .433 by going 4-for-4 as a Rays split-squad beat the Orioles on Tuesday … Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph suffered a left hand contusion when he was hit by a pitch in the first inning of Tuesday's Grapefruit League game … Matt Boyd blanked the Marlins for five innings, striking out five, in the Tigers' victory on Tuesday … Colby Rasmus (hip, core muscle) said Tuesday that he's "not close" to playing in Grapefruit League games … Mitch Haniger went 3-for-4 with a single, a double, a triple, a stolen base, and a run scored in the Mariners' Cactus League win over the White Sox on Tuesday … Patrick Corbin fired five scoreless innings Tuesday afternoon in his Cactus League start against the Rangers … Collin McHugh (arm) threw batting practice without incident on Tuesday … Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure said Jake Thompson (wrist) is likely to make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday or Friday … Eric Thames slugged his first home run of the spring Tuesday in the Brewers’ tie with the Cubs … Devin Mesoraco (hip, shoulder) will play in another Cactus League game on Wednesday … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Pedro Baez (thumb) is getting closer to mound work … Mariners left-hander James Paxton spun four innings of one-run ball Tuesday in his Cactus League start against the White Sox … Athletics outfielder Jake Smolinski will undergo surgery on his right shoulder … Jordan Schafer, who entered Cardinals camp as both an outfielder and reliever, is scheduled to undergo major elbow surgery on Friday.