Pirates setup man Evan Meek posted a 2.14 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 80 innings last season, vaulting himself into the rung of baseball’s elite relievers.
This year, he’s fallen back to earth in a big way.
Meek has made only 17 relief appearances and is on the 15-day disabled list currently for the second time this season due to shoulder inflammation.
Some might say the Bucs overused him in 2010 and that his throwing shoulder is fatigued from the career-high innings total. Whatever the case, he’s not close to getting back to 100 percent.
According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Meek is still in the “strengthening phase” of his recovery and is not close to gaining clearance to begin a throwing program. He will continue working out at the Pirates’ spring training complex until team trainers feel his shoulder is ready. That may take until August.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.