Carlos Beltran suffers right toe bruise on hit-by-pitch

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Carlos Beltran made an early exit from today’s Grapefruit League game against the Marlins after he was hit on the right foot by a pitch from right-hander Jacob Turner in the first inning. While the veteran outfielder was diagnosed with a right toe bruise after X-rays ruled out a fracture, he told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com that he was in a lot of pain.

“I tried not to think about it, and tried to run regular around the bases, but then it got sore,” Beltran said, before adding, “It’s painful. It’s painful.”

The injury comes just two days before Beltran is scheduled to join his native Puerto Rico for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. While he’s considered day-to-day right now, he didn’t rule out the possibility that it could affect his participation in the tournament.

Beltran, who turns 36 in April, batted .269/.346/.495 with 32 home runs, 97 RBI and an .842 OPS last season. He’s owed $13 million this season.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉