Matt Harvey being shut down with a partially-torn UCL is awful, awful news. I know now the official line is that they will wait and see how it goes, think about rehab over surgery and all of that, but really: when was the last time a pitcher successfully rehabbed a torn-UCL? It seems like they always end up having surgery.
So, as we contemplate being without Matt Harvey for a year — and not to full strength until the beginning of the 2015 season — let’s talk about the blame game. Because you know people will be doing so soon.
Except, I’m struggling to think of who should get blame. We may hear sourced-reports about this later, but I can’t recall anyone with knowledge of Harvey’s health and condition saying that the Mets were mishandling him. Overworking him. Ignoring signs of fatigue. His workload hasn’t gone up in dramatic fashion from one year to the next (which is part of the somewhat dubious “Verducci Effect” theory). He’s had a handful of outings this season where he began innings after already over 100 pitches and topped 120 a couple of times, but no one ever said that 100 pitches was some magic number. Indeed, smarter thinking these days is that you have to watch pitchers individually for signs of fatigue rather than arbitrarily assigning the same pitch count to a horse like Harvey as you might a slight curveball artist.
No, Harvey getting shut down and likely needing surgery doesn’t appear to be a matter of the Mets abusing Harvey or some awful mechanical flaw. It’s just a matter of pitching living to break your heart. Maybe someday there will be a viable theory that predicts and can help prevent elbow injuries in pitchers, but for now it just feels like chaos and sadness. A chaos and a sadness that seems to have visited Mets pitching prospects in disproportionate fashion over the years.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.