It happens every year. Teams that start the year as preseason favorites become pretenders almost overnight. There are various reasons that this phenomenon occurs, but the most prevalent one is injuries. This year’s MLB season is hardly a weed old and the injury bug is showing up early to bite some contenders where it hurts.
The New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Dodgers all suffered significant losses to various injuries on Monday alone. Whether these losses affect the playoff hopes of any of these contenders is yet to be seen, but starting the season shorthanded is not the traditional way that most teams push towards the postseason.
The Yankees thought that they had their hands full when they were tasked with the job of replacing long time closer Mariano Rivera. New York had inserted David Robertson into the future MLB Hall of Famer’s former role and the results were actually quite impressive. In three appearances this season, Robertson has not allowed an earned run while surrendering just one hit and one walk. The right hander out of Alabama has converted both save chances that he pitched in this season. Unfortunately for Yankees’ fans, when Robertson recorded his second save on Sunday in Toronto, he partially strained his groin. After receiving an MRI, the closer was diagnosed with a grade-1 strain of his left groin and placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Another MLB team from the A.L East that has sustained an early injury bug bite this season is the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays prized left-handed starter, Matt Moore, left Monday night’s 4-2 loss against the Royals in the fifth inning because of pain in his throwing elbow. Moore was sidelined for 31 games with an elbow injury last season, but trainers are hopeful that this incident is not as serious. The All-Star pitcher, who went 17-4 last season despite the elbow injury, had x-rays taken on Monday that showed no structural damage to the elbow. On Tuesday the Rays plan to run some tests and have Moore undergo an MRI for a more conclusive prognosis. After the MRI, the Rays will decide whether or not Moore needs some time on the disabled list.
In the same game that Moore was injured, Kansas City infielder Omar Infante was hurt when he was beaned by Ray’s pitcher Heath Bell. The beaning occurred in the seventh inning as Bell was relieving the injured Moore. Infante took a wayward fastball in the face, knocking him down and leaving him bruised and bloodied. Infante was quick to return to his feet, but was visibly shaken following the episode and taken out of the game. He was treated and examined at the University of Kansas Medical Center where he received six stitches and was diagnosed with a sprained jaw. The news is actually much better than what some Kansas City fans feared. It was rumored that Infante received a concussion from the wild pitch along with a broken jaw. The Royals will perform some more tests on the 32-year-old former All-Star before allowing him to return to action. Kansas City management is optimistic that Infante will not have to spend any time on the DL.
The news for the Los Angeles Dodgers is not so promising. After already being bitten by the injury bug an MLB leading five times in this extremely early portion of the season, the Dodgers suffered another blow when catcher A.J. Ellis tore cartilage in his left knee. The club was already without the service of Clayton Kershaw, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Brian Wilson and Yasiel Puig heading into this week. Ellis injured his knee on Saturday as he was rounding third base. The catcher was scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday, and if the damage was not too severe, the Dodgers are hopeful that he can return to the line up in about four weeks.
Commentary by Jeremy Mika