Andy Dirks needs back surgery, out three months

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Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks is expected to miss at least 12 weeks following back surgery, the team announced.

Dirks had been slated to platoon with free agent signing Rajai Davis in left field, taking most of the playing time as the left-handed-hitting option, so his injury opens the door for Davis to take on a bigger portion of the starts.

Davis brings a ton of speed to the table and is a plus defender in left field, but he hasn’t shown the ability to hit right-handed pitching consistently. Dirks, meanwhile, is a career .278 hitter with a .751 OPS versus righties.

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.