The Royals got a bit of a scare a little while ago, as right-hander Yordano Ventura exited his Opening Day start against the White Sox after going down in a heap after throwing a pitch in the seventh inning.
Fortunately, it turned out to not be a big deal. Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star says that it was a right thumb cramp and the team trainer “does not consider it serious.” Crisis averted.
Ventura, who signed a five-year, $23 million extension with the Royals over the weekend, allowed one run (a solo homer by Jose Abreu) over six-plus innings before exiting. It was his first career Opening Day assignment.
Ryan Braun didn’t have an issue with his right thumb during spring training, but now he has a new injury to deal with.
Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that Braun exited Monday’s season opener against the Rockies with a ribcage strain. He went 0-for-2 with a strikeout before leaving the game. He’s scheduled to be reevaluated tomorrow, but this is something that could put him down for a little while. Gerardo Parra should get most of the playing time in right field for now.
Braun, 31, struggled though a thumb injury last season while hitting .266/.324/.453 with 19 home runs and 81 RBI over 135 games.
Hunter Pence suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left forearm when he was hit by a pitch in early March and will likely miss all of April, but Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com reports that he had his cast removed yesterday.
While this represents progress, Pence is still about 10-14 days away from swinging a bat. The original timeline called for him to miss 6-8 weeks, but how he progresses in the coming days will determine whether he’ll be able to return in that window.
Gregor Blanco and Justin Maxwell should see an uptick in playing time during Pence’s absence, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy is also juggling his lineup. Nori Aoki is the new leadoff man while Angel Pagan is expected to bat third against righties and fifth against lefties.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred previously said that the Joe Maddon tampering investigation would have a resolution before Opening Day, but Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune was told by an MLB spokesman today that they aren’t ready to make a ruling.
At issue is whether the Cubs and Maddon were in contact before he opted out of his contract with the Rays last October. The Rays believe that they were, but the Cubs have strongly denied the claim. MLB, who has been investigating the matter since November, says it is “it is continuing to gather facts” and expects a resolution soon.
If evidence of tampering is found, possible punishment of the Cubs could include player compensation, a fine, or a loss of a draft pick.
Sweeny Murti of WFAN reports the Yankees have designated catcher Austin Romine for assignment. This means that John Ryan Murphy will serve as Brian McCann’s backup this season.
A former top-100 prospect, the 26-year-old Romine struggled in Triple-A last season and batted just .182 (6-for-33) with one double and a .441 OPS over 18 games during Grapefruit League action. He entered this spring out of options, so the Yankees couldn’t send him to Triple-A without exposing him to waivers.
Murphy was No. 3 on the depth chart last season, but he was the favorite to backup McCann after Francisco Cervelli was traded to the Pirates over the winter. The 23-year-old batted .280/.318/.370 across 85 plate appearances with the Bombers in 2014.