Taijuan Walker
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Taijuan Walker to be shut down for another six weeks

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Diamondbacks right-hander Taijuan Walker appeared to be on track to finish his Tommy John rehab and rejoin the rotation this spring, but an unfortunate setback will keep the hurler on the shelf for another six weeks. Manager Torey Lovullo revealed Friday that Walker was recently diagnosed with a capsule sprain in his right shoulder and will be shut down from throwing until he makes a full recovery.

The 26-year-old righty has not pitched a full season in the majors since 2017. He made just three starts at the major-league level last year, allowing five hits and five runs and striking out nine of 56 batters across 13 innings. By mid-April, he was dealing with a lingering case of forearm tightness and was later diagnosed with a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow, forcing Tommy John surgery and bringing a swift end to his second campaign in Arizona.

The silver lining here, however slight it may be, is that Walker didn’t suffer any additional structural damage to his shoulder. Still, it seems less and less likely that he’ll have a big impact on the pitching staff in 2019, provided he’s able to return to the rotation at all.

The team, meanwhile, will press on with a rotation of Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Luke Weaver, and Merrill Kelly. Earlier this week, it looked as though they might lose another top-tier starter to injury when Greinke experienced some abdominal tightness, but USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the right-hander is scheduled to toss a bullpen on Saturday in hopes of avoiding the injured list altogether. Should the Diamondbacks choose to take precautionary measures with their starter, they’ll likely sideline him for no more than two starts.

Cole Hamels done for year after just 1 start for Braves

Cole Hamels triceps injury
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ATLANTA — After making just one start for the Atlanta Braves, Cole Hamels is done for the season.

Hamels reported shortly before the start of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins that he didn’t feel like he could get anything on the ball. The left-hander was scheduled to make his second start Tuesday after struggling throughout the year to overcome shoulder and triceps issues.

The Braves placed Hamels on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sept. 18,, but that was a mere formality. General manager Alex Anthopoulos already contacted Major League Baseball about replacing Hamels in the team’s postseason player pool.

“Cole knows himself and his body,” Anthopoulos said. “You trust the player at that point when he says he can’t go.”

The Braves began Monday with a three-game lead in the NL East .and primed for their third straight division title.

Even with that success, Atlanta has struggled throughout the shortened 60-game series to put together a consistent rotation beyond Cy Young contender Max Fried and rookie Ian Anderson.

Expected ace Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending injury, former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz was demoted after just one start, and Sean Newcomb also was sent to the alternate training site after getting hammered in his four starts.

The Braves have used 12 starters this season.

Anthopoulos had hoped to land another top starter at the trade deadline but the only deal he was able to make was acquiring journeyman Tommy Milone from the Orioles. He’s on the injured list after getting hammered in three starts for the Braves, giving up 22 hits and 16 runs in just 9 2/3 innings.

“There’s no doubt that our starting pitching has not performed to the level we wanted it to or expected it to,” Anthopoulos said. “I know that each year you never have all parts of your club firing. That’s why depth is so important.”

Hamels, who signed an $18 million, one-year contract last December, reported for spring training with a sore shoulder stemming from an offseason workout.

When camps were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hamels was able to take a more cautious approach to his rehabilitation. But a triceps issue sidelined again before the delayed start of the season in July.

The Braves hoped Hamels would return in time to provide a boost for the playoffs. He also was scheduled to start the final game of the regular season Sunday, putting him in position to join the postseason rotation behind Fried and Anderson.

Now, Hamels is done for the year, his Braves’ career possibly ending after he made that one appearance last week in Baltimore. He went 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits, with two strikeouts and one walk in a loss to the Orioles.

Hamels reported no problems immediately after his start, but he didn’t feel right after a bullpen session a couple of days ago.

“You’re not going to try to talk the player into it,” Anthopoulos said. “When he says he isn’t right, that’s all we need to hear.”

Atlanta recalled right-hander Bryse Wilson to replace Hamels on the 28-man roster. The Braves did not immediately name a starter for Tuesday’s game.

With Hamels out, the Braves will apparently go with Fried (7-0, 1.96), Anderson (3-1, 2.36) and Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.74) as their top three postseason starters.

Hamels is a four-time All-Star with a career record of 163-122. He starred on Philadelphia’s World Series-winning team in 2008 and also pitched for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

Last season, Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for the Cubs.