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.

Aaron Hicks would like to avoid Tommy John surgery

Aaron Hicks
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The Yankees’ 2019 run ended in heartbreak on Saturday night when, despite a stunning ninth-inning comeback, they fell 6-4 to the Astros and officially lost their bid for the AL pennant. Now, facing a long offseason, there are a few decisions to be made.

One of those falls on the shoulders of outfielder Aaron Hicks, who told reporters that he “thinks he can continue playing without Tommy John surgery.” It’s unclear whose recommendation he’s basing that decision on, however, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch points out that Tommy John surgery was recommended during the slugger’s most recent meeting with Dr. Neal ELAttrache.

Hicks originally sustained a season-ending right flexor strain in early August and held several consultations with ElAttrache and the Yankees’ physician in the months that followed. He spent two and a half months on the 60-day injured list and finally returned to the Yankees’ roster during the ALCS, in which he went 2-for-13 with a base hit and a Game 5 three-run homer against the Astros.

Of course, a handful of strong performances doesn’t definitively prove that the outfielder is fully healed — or that he’ll be able to avoid aggravating the injury with further activity. Granted, Tommy John surgery isn’t a minor procedure; it’s one that requires up to a year of rest and rehabilitation before most players are cleared to throw again. Should Hicks wait to reverse his decision until he reports for spring training in 2020, though, it could push his return date out by another six months or so.