Phillies third baseman Cody Asche was hit in the right hand with a fastball from Pirates pitcher Yao-Hsun Yang in the bottom of the fifth inning this afternoon. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer described the uncomfortable sound as “that of a ball hitting helmet”. Asche was taken out of the game under his own power and replaced by prospect Maikel Franco. He will undergo evaluations and we should hear the results tomorrow, if not later today.
[Update: Preliminary results on Asche’s ultrasound came up negative, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.]
Although Franco is a third baseman and the Phillies’ best prospect according to most, the Phillies can’t be happy with what they saw. Franco is still rough around the edges and would benefit from starting the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Asche is no superstar, but is a dependable stopgap who provided decent production at the hot corner last season.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.