Often when a pitcher travels to Dr. James Andrews’ office is Alabama for an examination the next news is announcement that arm surgery is needed, but in Frank Francisco’s case his visit to Dr. Andrews is for a sore right pectoral muscle.
That doesn’t mean he won’t need surgery, of course, but an MRI exam showed no structural damage over the weekend and manager John Farrell expressed optimism that the injury will prove minor, telling Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com:
I think more than anything this is to give us as much information as possible to give him peace of mind and just make sure there’s nothing in there. We have every reason to believe there isn’t, to date, because of the MRI we’ve received, so there’s no structural issues. But we just want to be sure we do the right thing by Frankie and get him checked out by Dr. Andrews.
Octavio Dotel is also sidelined by a hamstring injury, so if the season were starting today the Blue Jays’ closer would likely be Jon Rauch, who held his own as the Twins’ closer for much of last year.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.