Fans of hard-hit baseballs waited years for Willie Calhoun's breakout in 2019.
Now, they'll likely have to wait a while to see what he does for an encore.
Calhoun suffered a scary injury during Sunday's Cactus League game against the Dodgers when a Julio Urias 95-mph fastball hit him in the mouth. Calhoun was taken to a nearby hospital where a CT scan showed a fractured jaw.
“The first thing I thought when he was hit was ‘Man, I wish he was wearing his flap,’” Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo said. “He’s usually wearing his flap, but he hasn’t worn it. It was tough to play after that.”
Rangers officials hadn't publicly spoken about the injury or Calhoun's outlook, and history doesn't tell us much about a timeline for a return. Jason Heyward suffered a fractured jaw in 2013 and missed a month's worth of games. Rhys Hoskins took a foul ball to the jaw in 2018 and missed just nine games. So, results vary.
Assuming he at least starts the season on the injured list, it's a tough blow at the outset of what could have been a coming-out party for the 25-year-old. After up and down major league performances in 2017 and 2018, Calhoun stuck around in 2019 and made his presence felt, smacking 21 homers with a .269/.323/.524 line in half a season.
With Calhoun out, the Rangers will have to fill left field somehow, and the most likely option is Nick Solak. Solak has been playing center field this spring but manager Chris Woodward recently said Danny Santana will begin the year as the team's everyday center fielder.
Like Calhoun, Solak is an interesting option for fantasy players. Similar to Calhoun, the 25-year-old Solak is a bat-first prospect who hit 32 home runs with 91 RBI, 98 runs scored and seven steals across three levels in 2019. If he gets regular at-bats while Calhoun recovers, he could be a productive hitter for a fantasy team in the early weeks of the season.
The bigger focus, though, is on Calhoun's health. Here's to a speedy recovery.
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Mancini 'To Miss Some Time' After Procedure
If Calhoun's outlook is cloudy, Trey Mancini's is a complete mystery, by design.
The Orioles outfielder is away from the team indefinitely as he prepares for a "non-baseball medical procedure," O's manager Brandon Hyde said Saturday. Hyde said the 27-year-old is "going to miss some time."
Mancini took to Twitter on Sunday to thank fans and teammates for their support, saying he'll offer more information as he gets more clarity on the situation.
"I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone for their kind sentiments and well wishes," he wrote. "It further drives home the fact that I am surrounded by the best family, friends/teammates, and fans that I could ever ask for.
"Once there is more clarity, I will be sure to keep everyone updated over the next few days. I look forward to a healthy recovery and being back on the field soon!"
Given that he expects to offer an update in the coming days there's no use speculating on the issue or his outlook -- and even if there was, Mancini's wish for privacy should be enough to silence any speculation -- but Hyde's announcement that Mancini will miss time means there's now a hole in right field for the O's. It's a big hole to fill, too, after Mancini broke out with a .291/.364/.535 line and 35 homers, 97 RBI and 106 runs scored in 2019.
With Austin Hays already penciled in as the team's center fielder and Anthony Santander potentially sliding from left to right, that hole could be filled by Dwight Smith Jr. Smith Jr., unlike Solak above, offers little to get excited about for fantasy purposes and can be left alone, like many Orioles this year.
As with Calhoun, though, the most important thing about this story is Mancini's wellbeing. Get well soon.
Judge Diagnosed With Fractured Rib
From uncertainty to clarity -- finally -- the Yankees now know what they're dealing with regarding Aaron Judge's shoulder.
It turns out, it's not a shoulder in the first place.
Judge underwent a series of tests last week and was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his first right rib, explaining the discomfort he'd been feeling in his right shoulder and pectoral area. Judge said he thinks the injury originally occurred in a September 18 game against the Angels in which he dove for a dying fly ball in shallow right field, landing hard on the ground.
“At least we have an answer, so now we can start working on a solution,” Judge said on Friday. “But overall, I’m just mad. I want to be out there with my team, especially in Spring Training. We have a good team here, a good club. We have a lot of goals here in 2020, and I want to be out there. But the first thing is you’ve got to get this healed, get it right and then we can move forward.”
That process will include two weeks of rest, followed by a CT scan to check up on his progress. Surgery to remove the rib isn't completely out of the question, but the team will hope rest and rehabilitation do the trick.
“I wouldn’t say that’s off the table, but you wouldn’t want to do that right now, especially if the bone is healing,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Judge's likely absence on Opening Day compounds the injury woes for the Yanks, who have been among the most snake-bitten teams so far this spring. Giancarlo Stanton is also likely to miss the start of the season with a Grade 1 calf strain, James Paxton won't be ready until sometime in May at the earliest following offseason back surgery and Luis Severino is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees do have some healthy options to fill in while their outfield gets back to full strength, and it could be the opening someone like former top prospect Clint Frazier needs to break through at the big league level. Frazier owns a .254/.308/.463 career line in the majors and hit .267/.317/.489 with 12 homers in 69 games last year, but he's struggled to establish himself as an everyday player despite his talent and pedigree. This spring the 25-year-old is hitting .286/.500/.643 with three extra-base hits in 22 plate appearances.
Frazier isn't likely a shallow or even moderately deep mixed league player at this point, but those in deeper mixed or AL-only leagues looking for a late-round dart throw could do worse than the Indians' No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. Take note.
American League Quick Hits: Justin Verlander was removed from Sunday's Grapefruit League outing because of right triceps soreness. Astros manager Dusty Baker said after the game that Verlander's removal was precautionary. He was, however, sent for tests, so we should have a better idea as to the right-hander's status before long. Verlander tossed two scoreless innings against the Mets on Sunday before being lifted ... Blake Snell (elbow) is confirmed to start in Monday's Grapefruit League contest against the Blue Jays. Snell played catch on Saturday to test out his elbow without any issue. It sounds like the cortisone injection that he received in his ailing left elbow did a world of good. There's still risk here, but fantasy owners should be able to continue drafting Snell with little hesitation ... Oscar Mercado was diagnosed with a mild strain of his left wrist and is considered day-to-day. The Indians' starting center fielder hurt his wrist while making a diving catch on Thursday. He had an MRI on Friday that revealed the sprain. It doesn't sound like the injury will keep him out of action for long, so the Indians dodged a bullet with this one ... Carlos Carrasco is dealing with mild right elbow inflammation and will slow down his throwing program for the time being. He won't pitch in a spring training game for a few days and will work out with weighted balls to see how he feels. Manager Terry Francona said he was not very concerned about the severity of the inflammation and termed the pause in Carrasco's throwing program as "maintenance." Carrasco missed most of last season after being diagnosed with leukemia ... Giancarlo Stanton (calf) was able to run on an anti-gravity treadmill on Friday. Stanton is recuperating from a Grade 1 right calf strain. He suffered the injury while doing outfield drills in camp two weeks ago. He is expected to begin the regular season on the injured list and should be ready to rejoin the Yankees in mid-to-late April barring any further setbacks ... Gary Sanchez told Marly Rivera of ESPN that his back has been bothering him off and on throughout camp. We had been under the assumption that it just flared up last week when Sanchez caught back-to-back games, but evidently it was just a little tighter than it had been at that time. Sanchez added that he wasn't particularly concerned, although the fact that it's apparently been a nagging ailment obviously isn't encouraging. The catcher is hoping to return to Grapefruit League play later this week ... White Sox and 3B Yoan Moncada agreed to a five-year, $70 million contract extension with a $25 million club option for 2025. The deal will buy out all of Moncada's arbitration years and potentially as many as two free agent years. He will turn 25 in May ... Griffin Canning will be shut down for 3-4 weeks after being given biological injections in his ailing right elbow on Friday. Previous tests showed that Canning has "chronic changes" to the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow as well as acute joint irritation. The hope, obviously, is that the injections will calm those ailments down, but we will find out in a few weeks. Even in a best-case scenario, Canning can probably be safely ruled out for April ... Andrew Heaney has been named the Angels' Opening Day starter. He will face the Astros on March 26 in Houston. Heaney was the most likely choice for the Halos with Shohei Ohtani (elbow) not expected to rejoin the rotation until mid-May. The left-hander posted a 4.91 ERA over 18 starts last season but struck out 118 batters across 95 1/3 innings ... Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports the Rays and outfielder Austin Meadows have begun discussing a long-term extension. Meadows, Topkin reports, is open to "see where it goes," so it sounds as though both sides are interested in a potential agreement. Any deal would likely be a team-friendly one for the Rays, as the 24-year-old is currently under team control through 2024 before becoming a free agent. These kinds of deals are becoming more prevalent as teams recognize the risk being worth the reward to keep their best young players for below-market prices. Meadows fits that bill after an All-Star year in 2019 in which he hit .291/.364/.558 with 33 homers, 89 RBI, 83 runs scored and 12 steals.
National League Quick Hits: Christian Yelich (knee) made his Cactus League debut on Friday, the same day the Brewers held a press conference to announce the signing of the outfielder to a seven-year, $188.5 million contract extension. Yelich recorded his first hit of the spring in Sunday's game ... Eugenio Suarez (shoulder) took some swings in the batting cage on Friday. The Reds have not yet mapped out Suarez's Cactus League debut (or, at least they haven't told anyone about it), but they remain hopeful that their third baseman will be in the lineup on Opening Day. It will be close ... Tommy Pham (elbow, side) could be ready to play the outfield as soon as Wednesday. Pham has been limited to designated hitter duty to this point as he works his way back from some side soreness. He's also coming back from a sprained UCL in his right elbow, which he played through in the second half of last season ... Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to action at Padres camp on Friday and could resume playing in games on Monday. Tatis has been suffering from a bad bout with the flu that kept him out of action for a week. He was able to participate in some drills on Friday and is expected to get a full workout on Sunday. He should be ready to go for Opening Day ... Mookie Betts is dealing with a stomach illness and will be held out of Cactus League contests until Wednesday. Betts is visiting a doctor today. Many players in spring training camps around the Phoenix area have been sick in recent days. The illness should not have any effect on Betts' ability to get ready for Opening Day ... Lewis Brinson clobbered his third home run of the spring as the Marlins topped the Nationals 7-3 in Grapefruit League play on Friday. Brinson tagged James Bourque for his go-ahead two-run blast in the sixth inning, putting the Marlins on top to stay. Brinson also singled in the ballgame, finishing the night 2-for-3. The 25-year-old has always had the talent, but has failed to put things together consistently at the big league level. He's off to a monster start this spring though, hitting .450 (9-for-20) with three homers, four RBI and only one strikeout. We've seen this play before, though.