Dr. James Andrews found no structural damage in Frank Francisco’s injured pectoral muscle, but John Lott of the National Post reports that he’ll begin the season on the disabled list anyway.
Octavio Dotel is also sidelined by a hamstring injury that could keep him out for Opening Day, which means Jon Rauch is now the favorite for early season saves in Toronto.
Rauch stepped in for Joe Nathan as the Twins’ closer last season and converted 21-of-25 saves through late July, but the Twins then acquired Matt Capps from the Nationals and moved Rauch into a middle relief role.
Francisco is scheduled to begin a throwing program as soon as Sunday, so barring a setback his DL stint may not be a long one.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.
Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.
When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.
The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.