Kevin Pillar strained his oblique sneezing

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Somewhere, Sammy Sosa is smiling. Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star reports that Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar strained his oblique while sneezing. Pillar is expected to miss a week of action but should still have plenty of time to be ready in time for the start of the regular season.

Baseball fans may recall that former Cubs great Sammy Sosa injured his back with a sneeze in May 2004, so Pillar is certainly not alone. The injury caused Sosa to miss more than a month of the regular season.

Pillar, 26, should get regular playing time in left field while Michael Saunders is on the disabled list. There’s a decent chance, though, that Saunders is ready by Opening Day, which would force Pillar back to the bench. Pillar hit .267/.295/.397 with two home runs and seven RBI in 122 plate appearances for the Jays last season.

Astros’ Verlander to have elbow surgery, miss rest of season

Justin Verlander
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Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner announced the news Saturday on his Instagram account in a 1½-minute video.

“In my simulated game a couple days ago, I felt something in my elbow, and after looking at my MRI and conversing with some of the best doctors in the world, we’ve determined that Tommy John surgery is my best option,” Verlander said.

He threw to hitters on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in the team’s opener on July 24. He threw 50 pitches in the bullpen before throwing about 25 pitches to hitters in two simulated innings.

“I tried as hard as I could to come back and play this season,” Verlander said. “Unfortunately, my body just didn’t cooperate.”

Verlander has been on the injured list with a right forearm strain. He went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 2019.

“Obviously, this is not good news,” Verlander said. “However, I’m going to handle this the only way I know how. I’m optimistic. I’m going to put my head down, work hard, attack this rehab and hopefully, come out the other side better for it.

“I truly believe everything that everything happens for a reason, and although 2020 has sucked, hopefully, when this rehab process is all said and done, this will allow me to charge through the end of my career and be healthy as long as I want and pitch as long as I want and accomplish some of the goals that I want in my career.”

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