As if the early days of spring training haven’t been tough enough on the Cardinals, now Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that ace Adam Wainwright has returned to St. Louis to have his right elbow examined for a possible ligament injury.
Wainwright apparently felt pain while throwing batting practice Monday and general manager John Mozeliak told Goold that he believes “it’s a significant injury” and “things do not look encouraging” for the Cy Young runner-up.
Wainwright has been mostly injury free since experiencing elbow problems in 2004, but did miss the final start of last season due to elbow soreness. Before that he went 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA and 213 strikeouts in 230 innings and Wainwright is 66-35 with a 2.97 ERA in five seasons with the Cardinals after being acquired from the Braves as a prospect for J.D. Drew in December of 2003.
He’ll be examined by doctors today and then get a second opinion later this week, but at this point Tommy John surgery and a 12-18 month recovery timetable looms.
The Nationals recalled 19-year-old outfield prospect Juan Soto from Double-A Harrisburg on Sunday, per a team announcement. Soto is poised to become the youngest player in the league once he makes his official debut with the club, and the Nationals’ first teenager to enter the majors since Bryce Harper made his first appearance back in 2012.
Entering the 2018 season, Soto was ranked no. 2 in the Nationals’ system and 15th overall. He’s certainly lived up to the hype during his first two years of pro ball, blazing through Single-A, High-A and Double-A levels in 2018 alone. While he logged just eight games at the Double-A level prior to his promotion to the majors, he proved consistent across all three levels this spring and slashed a cumulative .362/.462/.757 with 14 home runs and a 1.218 OPS in 182 plate appearances.
It’s not entirely clear how soon or in what capacity the Nationals will utilize their youngest player, but Soto’s tear through the minors is sure to pave the road for a few opportunities on the big-league level. He’ll be available off the bench for Sunday’s series finale against the Dodgers.