Astros prospect Mark Appel dealing with tendinitis in his thumb

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With this year’s First-Year Player Draft underway, it only makes sense to check in on the progress of last year’s No. 1 pick, Mark Appel.

In case you haven’t noticed, Appel has had a rough go of things this season. The 22-year-old struggled to adapt to the Astros’ piggyback starter system with High-A Lancaster, giving up 10 runs on 17 hits and four walks over 13 innings before being sent to extended spring training. He made his return to Lancaster on Saturday and was rocked for 10 runs on 10 hits (including three home runs) over just 1 1/3 innings. It appears that we have an explanation for at least part of the struggles.

According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said that Appel was scratched from his start with Lancaster today due to tendinitis in his right thumb. The good news is that it’s not a major concern. He’s expected to resume throwing tomorrow and make his next start one week from today.

When the Astros drafted Appel No. 1 overall last June, many said that he could make his major league debut by the end of 2014. That looks doubtful right now, though it’s obviously way too soon to write him off for the long term. If anything, it functions as a reminder that nobody is a sure thing.

Adrian Gonzalez might retire after his contract is up if his back isn’t any better

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Despite dealing with back trouble for five years, Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers recently made his first ever trip to the disabled list. Then he made another trip there. All of it has him contemplating his future. As he tells Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, his baseball future may be a short one if his health doesn’t improve:

“I want to get back this year to help the team and for me to be healthy,” Gonzalez said. “But I’m thinking more long-term about being able to play more years.

“Because if I have to deal with this next year again? That’ll probably be it. My contract will be over, that’ll probably be it. I won’t play any more. If I can heal it and my body feels good? Now I can go out there and do the things I can do. Then I’ll keep playing.”

Backs are one of those things that don’t get better as you get older. At least not without a lot of work and effort and good luck. Gonzalez is 35 now, so he’ll need all of that to keep playing beyond his current deal.

The Cubs send Kyle Schwarber to the minors

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Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.

Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.

Now this:

The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.