MLB injury report: Saturday, June 3
Chris Sale (shoulder), Boston Red Sox — To no one’s surprise, Sale has indeed landed on the IL after leaving Thursday night’s start against the Cincinnati Reds. The news, however, seems to be far from the worst-case scenario: The lefty is still being run through a battery of tests, but right now it seems like surgery is off the table — it’s “just” inflammation, rather than anything structural, and it could be a matter of weeks rather than months until he’s back on the mound. Of course, this is all very preliminary, and even that best-case scenario likely involves being shut down for a couple of weeks. But hey, considering how well Sale had been throwing the ball recently, we’ll take it.
Justin Steele (forearm)/Cody Bellinger (knee), Chicago Cubs — Some good injury news for a Cubs team that really, really needed it. The results of Steele’s MRI are in, and it seems like the forearm tightness that drove him from his start against the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this week was relatively minor — he hasn’t even been shut down from throwing yet.
Justin Steele described MRI results as good news. The plan is to have him play catch on Saturday, see how things feel and go from there. So, TBD if he will miss a start.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 2, 2023
It’s probably wise to plan on Steele missing at least one start, but the fact that he could avoid the IL entirely is pretty spectacular news.
Bellinger, meanwhile, took a big step in his rehab on Friday, running the bases ahead of Chicago’s game against the San Diego Padres. He’s already been taking batting practice, so this would seem to be among the final hurdles to clear before the center fielder heads out on a rehab assignment — or returns straight to the Majors.
Joey Votto (shoulder), Cincinnati Reds — If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again:
That’s Joey Votto driving the bus to Triple-A Louisville, where he’ll begin a new rehab assignment starting on Saturday. Votto was forced to abort his previous Minor League stint due to renewed soreness in his surgically repaired shoulder, but here’s hoping things fare a little better this time for the 39-year-old.
Lars Nootbaar (back)/Tyler O’Neill (back), St. Louis Cardinals — Make that three center fielders down for St. Louis, as Nootbaar was placed on the IL on Friday with a lower back contusion he suffered while tracking down a fly ball on Monday. Luckily it’s not expected to be too serious, and manager Oli Marmol is already talking as if Nootbaar could miss just the minimum 10 days.
#STLCards manager Oli Marmol on Lars Nootbaar: “He wasn’t going to be playable for this series & the Texas series would have been questionable. At that point, it made sense to get Walker up here, put him on the IL & allow him to get the work to be ready when the 10 days are up.”— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) June 2, 2023
That would be a relief for the Cardinals, because it doesn’t sound like O’Neill will be back any time soon. The 27-year-old’s rehab from his own back ailment has hit another snag, as he’s been shut down from all baseball activities for the next 10 days. Further evaluation hasn’t shed any new light on what’s ailing O’Neill, but right now it’s anyone’s guess when he could be back on the field.
Carlos Rodon (back), New York Yankees — Rodon finally appears to be building real momentum toward a return, firing a 30-pitch bullpen in Los Angeles on Friday that appears to have gone off without a hitch. The lefty’s fastball reportedly sat 90-93 (not bad considering he hasn’t been fully built up) and at this point he should be just about ready to start facing live hitters — first in BP, then in a Minor League game.
Joey Gallo (hamstring)/Carlos Correa (foot)/Byron Buxton (ribs), Minnesota Twins — The Twins injury wheel continues to spin, this time landing on Gallo, who sat out Friday’s win over the Cleveland Guardians with hamstring tightness. The slugger has been dealing with it for weeks now, but it seems like things flared up recently, and he could need some time on the IL to get right.
Sounds like Joey Gallo could be going on the injured list with his lingering hamstring injury.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) June 3, 2023
Matt Wallner would seemingly be the most likely call-up, but nothing official from the #MNTwins tonight.
Speaking of potentially needing time to get right: Correa sat out as well on Friday after being pulled from Thursday’s game due to soreness related to his plantar fasciitis. Manager Rocco Baldelli is still talking about it like a day-to-day thing, but given the star shortstop’s struggles at the plate — and how much the foot is clearly bothering him on a daily basis — you’d have to think the team would consider some extended rest at some point.
Buxton missed Friday night’s affair as well after taking a pitch off the ribs on Thursday, and while he too is considered day-to-day for now, he sounds like he’s in some pretty serious pain:
X-rays showed no fracture for Byron Buxton. He did have to sleep in a chair instead of bed last night, though. Has the ribs wrapped up pretty tight today.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) June 2, 2023
Rocco says the hope is that Carlos Correa will start tomorrow. Still described it as a day to day concern.
X-rays were negative, so hopefully the pain subsides soon.
Thairo Estrada (wrist)/Joc Pederson (hand)/Michael Conforto (heel), San Francisco Giants — Good news on three important cogs for a suddenly surging Giants team:
The Giants are hopeful Michael Conforto can be available off the bench tonight. Joc Pederson will play a rehab game in San Jose tomorrow. Thairo Estrada is going through a hitting progression and getting close to a return.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 2, 2023
Conforto has been out for the last few days with a heel bruise he suffered recently, and it’s a relief that he’s trending toward a return rather than a trip to the IL. Pederson’s hand contusion has kept him out longer than expected, but he shouldn’t need much time down in the Minors before he’s back in San Fran’s lineup. Estrada, meanwhile, has been arguably the team’s best player this year and thankfully seems to be getting over the wrist sprain he suffered last week quickly.
Marco Gonzales (forearm), Seattle Mariners — Seattle has already lost Robbie Ray for the season, and now Gonzales will have to fly back to the Pacific Northwest to have tests done on his sore forearm. The team won’t know more until the results of those tests come in, but obviously arm trouble never bodes well. Gonzales isn’t flashy, but he’s a Major League-caliber innings eater, and that’s a very valuable thing over the course of a long season — especially when the alternative is an unproven option. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Gonzales’ replacement in the rotation on Saturday, Bryan Woo, has been sensational in Double-A so far this year, with a 2.05 ERA and 59 strikeouts in just 44 innings. (Hopefully he can have as much success as the last Mariners arm to jump straight from Double-A to the Show.)
Zach Neto (foot), Los Angeles Angels — One of the most bizarre subplots to this season so far is Neto’s penchant for getting hit by pitches. The rookie is up to 11 over his first 45 MLB games, and the latest one forced him to leave his team’s game against the Houston Astros on Friday night. Thankfully X-rays on Neto’s foot were negative and he’s only expected to miss a day or two, if that.
Josh Fleming (elbow), Tampa Bay Rays — Tampa has to be wondering what minor pitching deity they crossed, because this is getting ridiculous. Already down Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen (and without Tyler Glasnow for the season’s first two months), the team will now also have to do without Fleming, who was put on the IL on Friday after experiencing elbow soreness while playing catch during the week. The lefty sinkerballer had been filling a bulk role for the Rays this year and doing it pretty well, sporting a 3.59 ERA before getting lit up by the Los Angeles Dodgers last weekend. Yonny Chirinos is likely to be recalled from Triple-A to pitch against the Red Sox at some point over the next couple of days.
Trevor Rogers (biceps)/AJ Puk (elbow), Miami Marlins — After bullying some poor Low-A hitters in his first rehab start earlier this week, Rogers is set to make a second appearance at Triple-A on Sunday. He’s expected to work five innings in that outing, pitch count allowing, and could very well need just one more start before he’s ready to return to the Marlins rotation. Also returning very soon: Puk, who pitched on Friday night and will do so again on Saturday, at which point he’s likely to be activated off the IL early next week.
Tarik Skubal (elbow), Detroit Tigers — Welcome back to organized ball, Tarik Skubal.
Tarik Skubal will start a rehab assignment with @wmwhitecaps on Sunday, according to Tigers medical report.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) June 2, 2023
Detroit’s young lefty will make his first rehab start at High-A on Sunday, just less than a year after undergoing season-ending elbow surgery. The Tigers will understandably want to give Skubal as much time to ramp up as he needs — he’s basically been going through a delayed spring training — which likely means at least three or four Minor League outings. Still, he should be back at some point in July, looking to build on a solid 2022 in which he posted a 3.52 ERA while striking out a batter per inning.
Nelson Cruz (hamstring), San Diego Padres — The 42-year-old DH has been placed on the 10-day IL with a hammy strain, retroactive to June 1. He’s been a disappointment in his first year with San Diego, even given his age, posting a .238/.270/.381 slash line with just three homers in 36 games.