Cardinals' Brad Penny out at least another month


penny throwing big.jpgThe Cardinals have finally established a timetable for Brad Penny’s return from a lat strain, and it’s not exactly great news.  According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the veteran starter is expected to miss at least the next four-to-six weeks.

Penny was placed on the 15-day disabled list back in late May after opening the season with an impressive 3.23 ERA, 35/9 K/BB ratio and 1.29 WHIP through his first nine starts in a Cardinals uniform.  P.J. Walters and Adam Ottavino have done well in his absence, but that probably won’t last long.  And it appears that Kyle Lohse could be out all year.

Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and rookie lefty Jaime Garcia have been spectacular through the first two months of the regular season and the Cards have the luxury of playing in one of baseball’s weaker divisions.  But the Reds are right on their tail and now have a healthy Joey Votto.  Things should be interesting for at least the next month in the National League Central.

Mike Trout has yet to strike out this spring

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Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.

But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.

To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).

According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.