Dr. James Andrews found no structural damage in Frank Francisco’s injured pectoral muscle, but John Lott of the National Post reports that he’ll begin the season on the disabled list anyway.
Octavio Dotel is also sidelined by a hamstring injury that could keep him out for Opening Day, which means Jon Rauch is now the favorite for early season saves in Toronto.
Rauch stepped in for Joe Nathan as the Twins’ closer last season and converted 21-of-25 saves through late July, but the Twins then acquired Matt Capps from the Nationals and moved Rauch into a middle relief role.
Francisco is scheduled to begin a throwing program as soon as Sunday, so barring a setback his DL stint may not be a long one.
Remember Manny Banuelos? He was once a top pitching prospect for the Yankees and then, apparently disappeared from the face of the earth. Or at least it felt like it. Now he’s in the news, however, as the Dodgers have signed him to a minor league contract.
OK, Banuelos didn’t disappear. He was traded to the Braves in 2015, had a cup of coffee with them, pitching pretty ineffectively in seven big league games, was released by Atlanta in the middle of 2016 and then latched on with the Angels. This past season he posted a 4.93 ERA over 95 innings while being used mostly as a reliever at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Banuelos pitched in the Future’s Game in 2009 and was a star in the Arizona Fall League in 2010. He was a top-50 prospect heading into 2011 before falling to Tommy John surgery in 2012. With Atlanta he suffered some bone spur problems and then some elbow issues that never resulted in surgery but which never subsided enough for him to fulfill his potential either. He suffered injuries. A lot of pitchers do.
It’s unrealistic to think that Banuelos will fulfill the promise he had six years ago, but he’s worth a minor league deal to see if the 26-year-old can at least be a serviceable reliever.