Unfortunate news from Corey Brock at MLB.com:
SAN DIEGO — Padres left-hander Cory Luebke will miss his second consecutive season after it was determined that he’ll likely need a second reconstructive surgery on his left elbow.
Luebke, 28, had an MRI on Friday that showed a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
Luebke had his first Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on May 23, 2012 and apparently never fully recovered from that procedure. The southpaw looked like a budding star in 2011 when he registered an outstanding 3.29 ERA, 1.067 WHIP and 154 strikeouts across 139 2/3 innings as a rookie, but elbow issues have now completely derailed his career.
“I feel bad for him … from 2011 through the first part of 2012, he was certainly on his way,” Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told MLB.com on Tuesday. “This is a real setback. There’s been a lot of missed time. Hopefully in a year or so, he can get back to being Cory Luebke. This whole thing has been a mystery.”
The one big consolation for Luebke is that he signed a four-year, $12 million contract extension with the Friars in his first taste of salary arbitration. That deal pays him $3 million in 2014 and $5.25 million in 2015.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.