Memorial Day wasn’t too kind to some big-name outfielders around baseball, as three different starting center fielders — Cedric Mullins, Harrison Bader and Lars Nootbaar — were all forced to leave their teams’ games due to injury. We’ve got the latest on that trio and all the other news you need to know in today’s MLB injury report for Tuesday, May 30.
MLB injury report: Tuesday, May 30
Cedric Mullins (groin), Baltimore Orioles — Tough news on Memorial Day for the Orioles, who not only got blanked by the Cleveland Guardians but also may have lost their offensive catalyst for at least a little while:
Mullins was forced to leave the game early after pulling up lame while running to first. The team is calling it a groin strain, and while there’s not yet a timetable for the center fielder’s return, it’s hard to believe he’ll avoid at least a brief stint on the IL — and possibly more depending on the severity. The two most natural replacements for Mullins, Kyle Stowers and top prospect Colton Cowser, are both on the injured list themselves at the moment, so we’ll have to wait and see how the O’s will handle this.
Lars Nootbaar (back)/Tyler O’Neill (back)/Dylan Carlson (ankle), St. Louis Cardinals — Speaking of outfield issues: The Cardinals lost their center fielder to injury on Monday, as Nootbaar suffered a back spasm while colliding with the outfield wall during St. Louis’ loss to the Kansas City Royals. He’s officially considered day to day for now, although it’s looking like he’ll have to miss at least a little time:
#STLCards center fielder Lars Nootbaar, who suffered debilitating back spasms on a catch made in the second inning where his back slammed into the wall, was moving gingerly in the clubhouse after the game. It's highly unlikely he's able to play on Tuesday against the #Royals.— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) May 29, 2023
It’s particularly brutal timing considering the state of the Cardinals’ other center field options. Manager Oli Marmol told reporters before the game that Dylan Carlson will in fact need a rehab stint as he comes back from an ankle injury, pushing his return back by at least a few days (although Carlson is already taking live BP and running the bases). O’Neill, meanwhile, is apparently “at a standstill” in his rehab of his own back ailment, and it’s unclear when he might be able to resume baseball activities again. What started the season as quite possibly the deepest collection of outfielders in baseball is now being held together with duct tape.
Cody Bellinger (knee), Chicago Cubs — Yet another center fielder on the mend, Bellinger at least has some good news to report: The Cubs star has resumed baseball activities, including batting cage work, a couple of weeks after landing on the IL with a knee sprain. The most recent timeframe from the team was mid-June, and Bellinger has still yet to start running the bases. Still, it’s a positive sign for one of the team’s best players.
Harrison Bader (hamstring)/Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring), Carlos Rodon (back), New York Yankees — At this point we’re left to wonder whether the Yankees angered some sort of hamstring god over the offseason. The latest victim is Bader, who left Monday’s game against the Seattle Mariners after tweaking his hamstring while running to first.
Harrison Bader leaving the game after an apparent injury on this play.— Tyler | State of the Yanks (@StateoftheYanks) May 30, 2023
Hopefully Harry is alright and it’s just precautionary pic.twitter.com/Dwd7TTzafe
This is just the latest in a laundry list of ailments for the outfielder, who’s been dynamic whenever he’s on the field but hasn’t been able to do so nearly enough over the course of his career. The team will likely know more once he undergoes an MRI, but even the mildest hamstring pull will generally need at least a couple of weeks to heal.
At least there’s also some good news for New York. Stanton, who’s been on the IL for about a month with a hamstring strain of his own, is set to begin a rehab assignment at Double-A on Sunday, with an eye on returning in early June. Rodon, meanwhile, threw a 20-pitch bullpen session on Monday, and it sounds like he could begin ramping up in earnest soon:
Facing live hitters is the last step before the lefty would be able to head out on a rehab assignment, which could come at some point next month barring any setbacks.
Andres Munoz (shoulder), Seattle Mariners — Munoz made an appearance in the Seattle clubhouse ahead of the team’s game against the Yankees on Monday, and he came bearing good news: The pinch in his shoulder that’s been bothering him for weeks now is gone, and he’ll head out on a rehab assignment at Triple-A at some point this week. Paul Sewald has been great in Munoz’s absence, but the back end of the bullpen desperately misses him.
Pete Fairbanks (hip), Tampa Bay Rays — If there are two things that might derail the Rays on their march to the World Series, it’s health and the bullpen, and this certainly won’t help: The team has placed Fairbanks on the 10-day IL with inflammation in his left hip. The closer suffered the injury while warming up ahead of the ninth inning on Sunday. Injuries have been a common theme for Fairbanks in his career, from multiple Tommy John surgeries to shoulder and lat issues. Jason Adam will slide back into the ninth inning, just as he did the first time Fairbanks went on the IL earlier this month, while the team awaits MRI results before issuing any sort of timeframe for a return.
Lance McCullers Jr. (forearm), Houston Astros — McCullers’ rehab appears to have hit a snag, as he’s recently gone from bullpen sessions to only throwing off flat ground. Dusty Baker told reporters that the team “has to take it slow with Lance until we know that he’s 100 percent,” which certainly isn’t what you want to hear. McCullers likely won’t be back until August at this point.
AJ Puk (elbow), Miami Marlins — The lefty closer appears to be making steady progress in his recovery from nerve irritation in his pitching elbow, most recently throwing a 20-pitch bullpen over the weekend that manager Skip Schumaker dubbed “really good”. There’s not yet a timetable for Puk’s return, but it seems like some time in June is a real possibility.
Max Muncy (hamstring), Los Angeles Dodgers — Muncy was held out of the lineup on Monday, a day after suffering a hamstring cramp in a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, but it seems like the team has avoided the worst-case scenario. The infielder is fully expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday, per Dave Roberts.
Dave Roberts gives an update on Max Muncy’s hamstring and his take on the # Dodgers' recent play. pic.twitter.com/qDeHEwVElu— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) May 30, 2023
Anthony Rendon (groin), Los Angeles Angels — After a few days of baseball activities, Rendon has taken another step towards a return to action, fielding grounders on Monday for the first time since landing on the IL with a groin strain. The hope is still that the third baseman won’t require a rehab stint, and he could be back in the Angels lineup as early as late this week or early next.
Joc Pederson (hand), San Francisco Giants — Good news for Pederson on Monday, as the DH told reporters that he’s begun swinging a bat for the first time — a big step considering that he’d been shut down entirely for a couple of weeks. It’s still just a contusion, with X-rays showing no structural damage, so hopefully Pederson will be able to get the pain and swelling under control and come back soon.