The Nationals have scratched right-hander Stephen Strasburg from Sunday’s scheduled start after he sprained his left ankle during conditioning yesterday.
Nationals manager Matt Williams told James Wagner of the Washington Post that Strasburg will rest for a few days, but the injury is not a major concern and no MRI is scheduled. For what it’s worth, he was walking around the clubhouse without a limp and didn’t need any sort of wrap or brace. Strasburg already missed one start this spring with an ingrown toenail, but there’s nothing to indicate he won’t be ready for his first turn in the starting rotation when the regular season gets underway.
Strasburg, 26, is coming off a 3.14 ERA (119 ERA+) with 10.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 across 34 starts last season.
Yunel Escobar suffered a Grade 1 left oblique strain earlier this month, but Jamal Collier of MLB.com reports that he’s on track to make his Grapefruit League debut on Monday.
Escobar was originally slated to play in a minor league game on Sunday, but he’s progressing quicker than expected, so he’s skipping that step. He participated in full pre-game activities this morning, including taking batting practice and fielding grounders at second base for the first time since March 5.
Escobar, who was acquired from the Athletics over the winter, is making the transition to second base this spring. It’s believed that his extra work at the position in the early part of camp is what led to the injury.
While things are looking up for Escobar, third baseman Anthony Rendon is still nursing a minor MCL sprain in his left knee and it’s unclear when he’ll be ready to return to game action.
The Angels suddenly have a vacancy in their bullpen, as Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that right-hander Cory Rasmus needs surgery for a core injury and will miss 6-8 weeks.
Rasmus, 27, had a 2.57 ERA and 57/17 K/BB ratio across 56 innings last season. He spent most of the year in the bullpen, but made a handful of abbreviated starts down the stretch while the Angels were dealing with injuries in their rotation.
With Rasmus out of the mix until sometime in May, Gonzalez pegs Vinnie Pestano and non-roster invitee Matt Lindstrom as strong candidates for the final two bullpen spots.
Matt Wieters came down with some tendinitis in his right elbow earlier this week after catching in a game for the first time since Tommy John surgery and now he’s essentially been ruled out for the start of the season.
According to Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com, Orioles manager Buck Showalter conceded today that Wieters is likely to begin the season on the disabled list. He doesn’t want to carry Wieters as a designated hitter if he can’t catch, so they aren’t going to rush his recovery. He’s nine months removed from the surgery right now, so Showalter still thinks he’s “on if not ahead of schedule.” He’ll be eligible to be activated as soon as soon as April 11.
This is a big year for Wieters, who is eligible to become a free agent this winter. Making sure that elbow is right before he returns is the top priority for both him and the Orioles. Caleb Joseph will likely open the season as the starting catcher while Steve Clevenger, J.P. Arencibia, and Ryan Lavarnway are candidates for the backup job.
Shane Victorino hit exclusively from the right side (his natural side) down the stretch in 2013 and for the limited time he was on the field last year, but he decided to go back to switch-hitting this spring. However, he has already had a change of heart about it.
Anything the Red Sox can do to keep Victorino on the field is a good idea, but this is probably the best way to go regardless of his health. The 34-year-old has underproduced from the left side against right-handed pitching for quite some time now.
If healthy, Victorino projects to be the starting right fielder for the Red Sox this season. Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo are currently competing for the starting center field job. It’s hard to count on Victorino holding up for a full season at this point, so chances are whoever loses that battle will still end up getting plenty of playing time.