Shin-Soo Choo misses fifth straight game with back spasms

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As if moving to center field at age 30 after never playing the position regularly before wasn’t challenging enough for Shin-Soo Choo now he’s dealing with a back injury.

Choo is out of the Reds’ lineup today for the fifth straight game with back spasms and manager Dusty Baker seemed unsure about his return timetable when talking to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

We’d like to get him in within a week of starting [the regular season], but you don’t know. We’re trying not to have any setbacks, because that’ll make it worse. When it comes to back spasms and the back, you’re just guessing. We just don’t want him to have any setbacks.

So much of what the Reds did this offseason is dependent upon Choo getting on base and showing decent range in center field, which makes this is a big worry.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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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.