Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar is finally cleared to play defense after missing time with a shoulder injury, but now shortstop Elvis Andrus has been shut down with elbow problems for the second time this month.
Andrus will take at least a few games off and Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that he’ll be examined Friday by team doctors. For now Andrus insists it’s a minor injury, but the Rangers are obviously a little more worried about it.
If it proves to be a significant injury the Rangers could shift Profar to shortstop–which is where he played while coming up through the minors as an elite prospect–but there’s no obvious in-house option to take over at second base unless they really want to rush 20-year-old top prospect Rougned Odor to the big leagues.
Another option could be making a late run at unsigned free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, but it’s probably not worth speculating about that too much until there’s an official word on Andrus’ status. Texas traded longtime second baseman Ian Kinsler to Detroit in the Prince Fielder deal in large part because Andrus is signed long term and Profar was waiting in the wings.
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.