In a sea of killer injuries so far in the 2023 MLB season, we finally get to lead off our daily injury report with some uplifting news: Chicago White Sox closer Liam Hendriks is set to make his season debut this week after winning his battle with cancer this spring. The Aussie’s good health is obviously the most important headline from the day around the Majors, but we have plenty more to get to.
MLB injury report: Monday, May 29
Liam Hendriks (cancer treatment), Chicago White Sox — Less than six months after being diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hendriks is officially set to return to a Major League mound. The team made the announcement in an emotional video posted to Twitter on Sunday:
Your journey is an inspiration. We couldn’t be more proud.— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 28, 2023
Welcome back, Liam Hendriks! pic.twitter.com/fbQ6jwJsks
Hendriks made six appearances in a tune-up at Triple-A Charlotte, but he still may need some time to find his footing again. Given the state of the White Sox bullpen, it shouldn’t be long before he regains his closer’s role.
Juan Soto (back), San Diego Padres — Soto was a late scratch from Sunday’s lineup with what the team is calling back tightness. He did pinch-hit in the ninth inning of San Diego’s loss to the New York Yankees, and the team even left him in to run at first base, so this doesn’t seem like it’ll cost the superstar too much time.
Anthony Rizzo (hand), New York Yankees — That same game also included a scary scene at first base, in which Rizzo got tangled up with Fernando Tatis Jr. and appeared to suffer some sort of head injury.
Anthony Rizzo appeared to be in a lot of pain after getting tangled up with Fernando Tatis Jr. on this strike em out throw em out double play pic.twitter.com/dHpj8kh2e0— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) May 28, 2023
Rizzo was forced to leave the game, but luckily the team is calling the move precautionary — he’s been diagnosed with a neck injury and is expected to be back in the lineup as soon as Monday against the Seattle Mariners.
Royce Lewis (knee)/Max Kepler (hamstring), Minnesota Twins — A struggling Minnesota offense is about to get a big, big lift:
#MNTwins will activate Royce Lewis and Max Kepler from the injured list for Monday’s game.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) May 28, 2023
Kyle Garlick and Matt Wallner will be optioned to Triple-A to make room on the roster.
Lewis has suffered two ACL tears in as many years, but he’s finally set to return after tearing up the Minors in a two-week rehab assignment (1.088 OPS, four homers, four steals). The former all-world prospect showed massive potential in an all-too-brief MLB debut last year, and if he can stay healthy, the sky is the limit. Kepler has missed the past two weeks with a hamstring strain — his second IL stint already this season — but when he’s on the field he’s a steady veteran presence who provides plenty of pop.
Carlos Santana (back), Pittsburgh Pirates — Santana was pulled from Sunday’s loss to the Mariners after appearing to tweak something on a ground out in the sixth inning. It’s being called lumbar spine muscular tightness — basically a strain of a muscle in the first baseman’s back — and he’s being called day to day while the team awaits test results and sees how he responds to treatment.
Pete Fairbanks (hip), Tampa Bay Rays — Fairbanks was in the bullpen warming up for the ninth inning on Sunday only to abruptly leave the field accompanied by a trainer. It was a huge red flag for a pitcher who’s suffered a laundry list of injuries in his career, but it apparently had nothing to do with Fairbanks’ arm:
The righty’s hip apparently “locked up on him” during his warm-up tosses, with manager Kevin Cash leaving open the possibility that Fairbanks could need another trip to the IL. With Jason Adam’s strong performance this year — he picked up a two-inning save against the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday — Fairbanks could find himself out of the closer’s role even if he returns to full health soon.
Max Muncy (leg), Los Angeles Dodgers — Speaking of concerning early exits: Muncy left Sunday’s game with what appeared to be some sort of knee issue — but which the team later clarified was a left hamstring cramp. It sounds like something that’s been bothering the slugger for a little while now, although it doesn’t seem likely to result in an IL stint.
Max Muncy said he cramped up in each of the last two games. He wanted to stay in the game, he said, but the #Dodgers decided to think long term instead of pushing through it and potentially making it worse.— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) May 28, 2023
Still, Muncy could be forced to miss a game or two as L.A. makes sure he’s back to full strength.
Buck Showalter shares the reasoning to why he decided to give Jeff McNeil a day off today: pic.twitter.com/3IoCHHqFeg— SNY (@SNYtv) May 28, 2023
New York has the benefit of an off day on Monday, and it doesn’t sounds like Buck Showalter is too concerned about McNeil missing extended time. Still, it’s worth monitoring in case it doesn’t get better as quickly as the team hopes.
Alec Bohm (hamstring), Philadelphia Phillies — The last of many late scratches on Sunday, Bohm was removed from Philly’s starting lineup due to hamstring tightness. Manager Rob Thomson added that the third baseman was available to hit off the bench if needed, though, and he expects Bohm to return to the lineup on Monday.
Owen Miller (forearm), Milwaukee Brewers — Miller’s been a revelation for a Brewers team desperate for any kind of offensive spark, slashing .330/.371/.513 with four homers and six steals so far this year, and all of Milwaukee was holding its breath when he was forced to leave Sunday’s win over the San Francisco Giants after being hit in the arm by a pitch. Luckily, though, it caught “all muscle”, according to manager Craig Counsell, and with X-rays coming back negative he doesn’t expect Miller to miss more than a game at the very most.
Triston McKenzie (shoulder)/Josh Naylor (ankle), Cleveland Guardians — It seems like McKenzie’s 2023 debut could be imminent, as the starter will be reassessed after making one final Triple-A start on Tuesday. He’s ticketed for around 85 pitches in that outing, which would seem to clear him to return to the Major League rotation on a relatively full workload next weekend if all goes well. Naylor, meanwhile, missed Sunday’s game with lingering foot soreness after fouling a ball off it on Saturday, but X-rays came back negative and Terry Francona doesn’t expect his DH to miss much if any time.