Mets closer Bobby Parnell showed decreased velocity while blowing a save against the Nationals on Opening Day and the team just announced that he has a partially torn MCL in his elbow.
Parnell has been told to rest for two weeks, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that surgery has not been ruled out eventually if the time off and platelet-rich plasma injections don’t do the trick.
All of which means that Jose Valverde has gone from scrap-heap minor-league signing to the Mets’ closer in … well, one game. He certainly has plenty of closing experience with 286 career saves.
Parnell had velocity issues throughout spring training and it was clearly he wasn’t fully recovered from neck surgery, but the Mets were committed to sticking with him in the closer role anyway. Now the job goes to the 36-year-old Valverde, who was released by the Tigers last season after just 19 innings.
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.