The Rays received a health scare with yet another one of their promising young starting pitchers Friday.
Already without Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly and, for a little while longer at least, Matt Moore, Rays officials held their collective breath as Jake Odorizzi left his start Friday with oblique tightness. Odorizzi had thrown 4 1/3 scoreless innings against the Mariners prior to exiting.
The good news, at least preliminarily, is that this injury, unlike some others incurred by Rays starters in recent memory, doesn't seem to be of the long-term variety. Odorizzi sounded optimistic about his outlook after the game, and the Rays were going to wait until Saturday to make a decision about the 25-year-old.
Losing Odorizzi for an extended period would have been just the latest blow in a series of terrible breaks for the organization. Cobb didn't throw a pitch for the Rays this season before undergoing Tommy John surgery, they got just three good starts out of Smyly before a torn labrum forced him back on the disabled list and Moore is nearing the end of his rehabilitation from his own Tommy John elbow surgery.
Even with the litany of injuries, the team has miraculously managed to stay near the top of the American League East through early June. A Cy Young-type season from Chris Archer and meaningful contributions from guys like Nate Karns and Erasmo Ramirez has helped the Rays to a 30-26 record through Friday's games.
Odorizzi has been a big part of that as well. The 25-year-old has a 2.47 ERA and 1.02 WHIP through 12 starts in what is shaping up to be easily the best season Odorizzi has put together since making his MLB debut in 2012.
Despite the initial optimism, Odorizzi owners should pay attention to the news coming out of Seattle, where the Rays are playing, Saturday. Given the Rays' luck, no pitcher is safe.
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Pence Still Sidelined
Hunter Pence was in the middle of the action at the White House this week, but a wrist injury has relegated him to the Giants' dugout in recent days.
Pence missed his second game in a row on Friday with an injured left wrist, an ailment he called tendinitis but which Giants manager Bruce Bochy said is a bone bruise.
Either way, it has served to keep Pence on the sidelines. Pence hurt the wrist in Monday's game, and he said attempting to play through the injury actually made it worse.
Pence told reporters the discomfort was "something that was not manageable" a few days ago, but he did say that the wrist had improved significantly from Thursday to Friday. Bochy told reporters he had hope Pence could be back in the lineup by Sunday, an idea Pence approached with caution.
"I have to get it healed," said Pence, "or else it'll go backward again."
Pence has been a nice injection of offense for the Giants since returning to the lineup, batting .282/.329/.451 with two homers and 13 RBI in 18 games. A fractured left forearm forced Pence to miss most of the first two months of the season.
Howie Kendrick's ailing knee showed improvement Friday.
Kendrick, who hurt his right knee sliding into third base during Wednesday's game, said his knee felt less stiff when he woke up Friday, giving hope that he might be able to avoid a trip to the disabled list. An MRI taken late Thursday ruled out any structural damage, another good sign.
“Hopefully, it’s just a couple days,” Kendrick said of the injury. “We’ll see.”
The remarkably consistent second baseman has been a big part of the Dodgers' success in his first year in Chavez Ravine. Kendrick is batting .285/.347/.430 with five home runs and 28 runs scored through 52 games, and he has batted third or fourth in the Dodgers lineup in all 50 of his starts.
In his absence, the Dodgers have turned to Kike Hernandez at the keystone the past two games. In the event Kendrick is forced to miss a more substantial chunk of time, the team would likely use some combination of Hernandez, Justin Turner, Alex Guerrero and Alberto Callaspo to man second and third base in the interim.
National League Quick Hits: Wil Myers (wrist) is ready for a rehab assignment. The outfielder will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A El Paso on Sunday, likely needing a handful of games before being ready to return to the Padres ... Speaking of rehab assignments, Doug Fister (elbow) is expected to begin one soon. The right-hander threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Thursday, and he'll likely need at least a few starts to get his stamina where it needs to be prior to being activated by the Nats ... Also from the rehab assignment department, Matt Cain (elbow) will begin one Tuesday with Double-A Richmond. Even so, Cain isn't expected back until around the All-Star break as he recovers from a strained flexor tendon ... Daniel Murphy became the latest Mets infielder to go on the disabled list when he hit the DL Friday with a strained left quad. Murphy joins David Wright, Dilson Herrera and Travis d'Arnaud -- not technically an infielder, but the point remains -- on the shelf ... Ryan Braun (thumb) missed another start Friday, but he was available to pinch-hit in the contest. His services weren't needed, and after another cryotherapy shot in his right thumb he should be back in the lineup sometime this weekend ... Adam Lind homered and collected six RBI in Friday's win over the Twins. The homer was his ninth of the season to go with an .881 OPS.
American League Quick Hits: Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) resumed baseball activities on Friday, running sprints, throwing and taking dry swings in the cage. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said earlier in the week that the outfielder is still roughly 3-4 weeks away from returning ... Brian McCann (foot) returned to the Yankees lineup on Friday. He went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in the victory ... After leaving Thursday's game with leg cramps, Stephen Vogt was held out of the starting lineup on Friday. The catcher struck out as a pinch-hitter and should be back in the lineup soon ... Chi Chi Gonzalez threw a three-hit shutout of the Royals on Friday. The 23-year-old did it in just his second major league start, needing 116 pitches to finish the deed ... Alex Rodriguez got back on track Friday, going 4-for-5 with an RBI single in the Yankees' win. The run batted in was his 1,997th of his career, passing Barry Bonds to move into second on the all-time RBI list ... Matt Wieters was activated from the disabled list and started at catcher for the Orioles on Friday. The 29-year-old went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and two RBI on the evening.