Any initial optimism about B.J. Upton making a speedy recovery following his outfield collision with Desmond Jennings two weeks ago is now gone, as the Rays center fielder admitted today that he’s unlikely to be ready for Opening Day.
Upton has played just once since the collision, logging a handful of innings in a minor-league game, and told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he’s not going to rush back:
If it doesn’t happen, so be it, there’s too much baseball to worry about one series of games. I just rather be healthy all year than try to rush back for a weekend or so.
The main issue from the collision is back tightness, which Upton said “won’t loosen up.” Sam Fuld is also injured and possibly facing shoulder surgery, so the Rays’ outfield will be thin initially.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.