Hello baseball friends and welcome to The Sunday Brief! In this feature, we’ll take you through important news you may have missed from the past week as well as what to look out for in the coming week. We may only have three full days of real baseball under our belts, but there’s still plenty to catch up on. Let’s get into it.
Another Year, Another COVID Postponement
Just a couple of hours prior to the first pitch of the 2021 season, it was announced that Opening Day between the Mets and Nationals would be postponed due to a number of positive COVID-19 test results from the Washington roster. The next day, it was decided the entire series would be postponed. In total, the Nationals had four positive cases and five additional people in quarantine for contact tracing/exposure purposes. While it’s not confirmed if they are the positive cases, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester, Alex Avila, and Josh Harrison are among those who will need to be held out if the team resumes play on Monday. It will be quite interesting to see how the league handles the rescheduling of games as both teams are set to begin a fresh series this week. With the grind of the season increased to the normal 162 games, a multitude of doubleheaders like we saw last season could have a negative impact on a roster’s stamina and flexibility. The 2021 Taxi Squad system will certainly be relied on early and often.
On the brighter side, the league has been much improved from last season, when outbreaks wreaked havoc on multiple teams – most notably the Marlins and Cardinals. Players have been testing negative at a very high rate, and it looks like a semblance of normalcy is returning to the game. Still though, it’s a tough break for these two teams to be hindered right out of the gate, and it is a stark reminder we are very much not out of the woods yet.
Ke’Bryan Hayes Injury Scare
On Saturday, Pirates’ third baseman exited the game against the Cubs after apparently jamming his left hand/wrist. It is unclear at this moment just how Hayes injured himself, but it was apparently bothering him enough that he had to be taken out of the game. Hayes is one of the more exciting and promising young bats in the league and any time missed for him would be a blow to both the Pirates and the league. Hand and wrist injuries are notorious for affecting grip and torque on a player’s swing, so hopefully Hayes just got a little jammed up and was removed from the game out of an abundance of caution. Luckily for the Pirates, Hayes’ X-rays came back negative, but they still can’t afford to play fast and loose with their next great player.
Update: Hayes was placed on the 10-day IL on Sunday with left wrist inflammation.
Arizona’s Surprising Promotion
With Nick Ahmed landing on the IL, the Diamondbacks promoted shortstop prospect Geraldo Perdomo to replace him. While this move certainly is not permanent for the 21-year-old who has never played above High-A, it’s still intriguing to see that the Snakes were willing to give Perdomo a chance – a sign that they really believe in his future on the team. Through his minor league career, Perdomo has shown excellent defense at short to go along with his .278/.411/.368 and 66 steals in 1034 PA. Ahmed’s injury isn’t terribly serious and isn’t expected to keep him sidelined long, so Perdomo’s promotion may end up being more of a cameo, but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on what kind of impression the young infielder can make.
Gallen on the Fast Track
Sticking with the Diamondbacks news, right-hander Zac Gallen is already throwing at a fairly high intensity after suffering a hairline fracture in his forearm. Gallen’s injury was revealed very late in Spring Training, and the initial outlook wasn’t incredibly positive. The 25-year old pitched in a simulated game on Saturday, throwing 60 pitches for the day. The return of Gallen, which now seems a bit closer, would be a huge boon for the Diamondbacks rotation that is already competing in an insanely talented NL West.
Andrew Vaughn Arrives
With the upsetting injury to Eloy Jiménez, the White Sox wasted no time in penciling in top prospect Andrew Vaughn to an expanded role. Typically a first baseman, Vaughn was expected to occupy the DH spot in the lineup with José Abreu entrenched at first. With Jiménez out for the majority of the season, however, the team has been experimenting with Vaughn in left field. Vaughn has been on the fast track to the majors since being selected third overall in 2019. That season across three different levels, Vaughn hit .278/.384/.449 in 55 total games. While the jury may still be out on his ability to stick in the field, Vaughn is worth watching for his power potential alone.
Two Relievers Taking A Step Away
Earlier this week, Angels reliever Ty Buttrey was placed on the restricted list after it was reported he was taking some time away from the game. Buttrey was sent down to the minors towards the end of Spring Training, but was still expected to pitch in the majors in some capacity this season. The following day, Buttrey reported on social media that he would be retiring from baseball for several reasons, mainly citing a lack of passion for the game. Oddly enough, the Rays also announced on Saturday that their reliever Ryan Sherriff would also be placed on the restricted list for personal reasons. It’s unknown at this time the details of Sherriff’s absence, but it will certainly be a blow to the Rays’ bullpen which is already without Nick Anderson. Sheriff was excellent last year in his brief Tampa Bay cameo – zero earned runs in 9.2 innings. In any case, I wish both Buttrey and Sherriff the best in their decisions and their futures.
Marlins Rotation Takes Another Hit
After it was revealed on Friday that Marlins starter Sixto Sánchez was suffering from shoulder inflammation, fellow SP Elieser Hernández left his start on Saturday after experiencing inflammation in his biceps. The right-hander’s velocity was noticeably down in the outing and he was lifted by manager Don Mattingly before the end of the 3rd inning. The Marlins still have plenty of weapons available in Sandy Alcántara, Pablo López, and Trevor Rogers, but any time missed for Hernández would be quite a detriment to the team. Hopefully, we will get an update on his injury early this week.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)