If big league trainers and team doctors had to punch time cards like a lot of us do, they would be getting some serious overtime these days. The Cruz Roja should be on high alert. Less than 50 games into the major league season, I’ve never seen so many players on the disabled list. The numbers are particularly staggering for Latino athletes, and the clubs who employ them are scrambling for worthy replacements.
The New York Yankees pitching staff will be challenged throughout the season with the losses of Michael Pineda and Mariano Rivera. They already miss Mo, struggling with a “closer by committee” approach led by David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Boone Logan. None of the three have been a model of consistency, and Robertson himself is now on the DL due to a left oblique strain.
The situation is similar with the Kansas City Royals. Their star closer, Joakim Soria, went under the knife for his second Tommy John procedure fresh out of spring training. Burly Jonathan Broxton has done a decent job in the Mexicutioner’s absence, but the Royals lack of bullpen depth could be problematic. If anything happens to Broxton, and stranger things have happened, the only other guy with closer experience is lefty Jose Mijares. Another blow to the Kansas City pitching staff came when key starter Jonathan Sanchez went on the DL May 9 with biceps tendinitis. And the catching corps also took a hit when Salvador Perez, who recently inked a new deal, was pronounced out for the season with a torn meniscus.
The Washington Nationals have catching problems as well, with budding super star Wilson Ramos done for the season with a torn ACL. The injury occurred when the Venezuelan scampered to his right to retrieve a wild pitch and fell to the ground in a heap. Ramos, if you recall, was a kidnap-for-ransom victim near his mother’s home this past winter. He spent most of the off season recovering from the ordeal, and reported for camp a bit on the heavy side, in my opinion. Now the Nats must be wishing they had resigned Ivan Rodriguez before Pudge announced he would retire as a Texas Ranger.
The injury bug also keeps biting the Colorado Rockies and their predominately Hispanic pitching staff. Juan Nicasio has recovered nicely from last season’s scarey broken neck incident. But now, number-three starter Jhoulys Chacin is on the DL with right shoulder inflammation. That’s why Colorado hopes for the return of their ace, Jorge De La Rosa, sometime next month. The Mexican southpaw has been recovering for over a year now from a torn ulnar collateral ligament.
As of this posting, the San Diego Padres have an unlucky 13 players on the shelf, with the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies both reporting 10 guys each who are hurt and can’t work. Here are some of the other more prominent Hispanic players currently on the sidelines.
Arodys Vizcaino, pitcher
Elbow reconstruction surgery (out for season)
Geovany Soto, catcher
Torn meniscus, left knee (could return in July)
Victor Martinez, catcher, DH
Torn ACL (could return for playoffs)
Al Alburquerque, pitcher
Elbow surgery (could return by July)
Kansas City Royals
Yuniesky Betancourt, infielder
Right ankle sprain (could return next month)
Los Angeles Dodgers
Juan Rivera, outfielder
Ruptured left hamstring (could return in July)
Juan Uribe, infielder
Sore left wrist (could return next month)
Alex Gonzalez, shortstop
Torn ACL (out for season)
San Francisco Giants
Pablo Sandoval, infielder
Broken left hand (could return in July)
Franklin Gutierrez, outfielder
Bruised pectoral muscle, heel (could return late next month)
Even though baseball is not a contact sport, the daily competitive grind punishes the body. Still, to see all these superb athletes get injured so early seems odd to me. Is it just bad luck, as was the case with Rivera ? Or are these star players simply not taking spring training very seriously?
I don’t know all the answers. But without guaranteed contracts, I’m sure some of these players would work a bit harder to get into game-day shape.