June 1, 2011

zimmerman bats

Ryan Zimmerman plays three innings in extended spring game

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Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman landed on the disabled list during the second week of April with a strained abdominal muscle. He was only expected to miss about 15 days, but the strain didn’t heal as quickly as all had hoped and he wound up undergoing sports hernia surgery on April 30.

Zimmerman finally made some semblance of progress on Wednesday, according to MLB.com’s Steven Miller, playing three innings in an extended spring training game down in Viera, Florida.

He’ll probably play a five-inning game later this week then a seven-inning game this weekend, all building up toward an eventual minor league rehab assignment.

If Zimmerman is able to avoid more setbacks — which is no guarantee given how much trouble this injury has caused him — he could be back in the Nationals’ starting lineup within the next two weeks.

The 26-year-old was 10-for-28 with a homer, a triple and four RBI in eight games before suffering the ab strain.

Daisuke Matsuzaka will undergo Tommy John elbow surgery

Red Sox starting pitcher Matsuzaka and manager Francona walk back to the dugout after Matsuzaka was removed from the game against the Orioles in Boston

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports heard from a source late Wednesday evening that Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka is considering undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery following his visit this week with Dr. Lewis Yocum.

According to Brown’s source, the Los Angeles-based Yocum found a “significant tear” in Matsuzaka’s throwing elbow and recommended the procedure. Dice-K will meet with the Red Sox front office and medical staff before any decisions are made.

The 30-year-old signed a six-year, $52 million contract with the Red Sox in December of 2006 after Boston paid the Seibu Lions over $51 million for exclusive negotiating rights. He’s making $10 million this season and is owed another $10 million in 2012.

If Matsuzaka undergoes Tommy John surgery, there’s a chance he won’t return before the end of that deal. Recovery times vary, but it can often take over 15 months for some starting pitchers to fully heal.

Matsuzaka has posted a 49-30 win-loss record, a 4.25 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in his four-plus rocky years with Boston. He drew Cy Young Award votes in 2008, by far his best season to date. The Tokyo native had a 5.30 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 26/23 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this year before he was shut down in mid-May.


UPDATE: Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston is now reporting that Dice-K has elected to have Tommy John surgery and will inform the Red Sox Thursday morning. He’s likely to undergo the procedure early next week.

Jim Thome exits game after suffering mild quadriceps strain

Seattle Mariners v Minnesota Twins

More bad news for the Twinkies.

According to MLB.com beat writer Rhett Bollinger, designated hitter Jim Thome was pulled in the sixth inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Tigers after suffering a mild left quad strain.

Thome was 0-for-1 with a walk before begin replaced at DH by Trevor Plouffe. The veteran may have suffered the strain while advancing to second base on Danny Valencia‘s single in the fourth inning.

It’s not a certainty that Thome will require a stint on the 15-day disabled list, but it’s definitely a possibility. Quad strains tend to linger (see: Matt Holliday) and Thome turns 41 years old later this season.

The 40-year-old has hit a healthy .237/.372/.447 with four home runs and 12 RBI in 28 games so far.