By Chris Ruddick
We are almost a month into spring training and just like last year, the prevailing story has been the rash of injuries, especially among big-time pitchers.
Texas ace Yu Darvish has a torn elbow ligament and will likely need season- ending surgery, while Philadelphia left-hander Cliff Lee has a torn flexor tendon in his elbow and will try everything he can to put off surgery, which he says could end his career.
Just as devastating as those two, but a little more under the radar is the elbow injury to Kansas City lefty Tim Collins, who was a vital part of the Royals’ vaunted bullpen a year ago that carried them to a American League pennant.
Like the Rangers and Phillies, the Royals are seeking out every option they can to avoid surgery, but, of course, are bracing themselves for the worst.
And there will sure to be more to come before the first pitch of the season is thrown by Jon Lester on Easter Sunday in Chicago.
The most disheartening injury, though, may have come Tuesday, as Toronto righty Marcus Stroman tore his ACL in his left knee while taking pitchers’ fielding practice on the back fields. He went to cover first base on a bunt, felt a pop in his knee and later underwent an MRI, which revealed the damage.
Although the Jays haven’t said how long he’ll be out, the belief is Stroman will miss the entire 2015 season.
“Beyond devastated. Not being able to compete with my brothers each and every day is extremely disappointing,” the 23-year-old Stroman wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “Still can’t believe it.”
Stroman was expected to be a key piece to Toronto’s starting rotation this season after a strong rookie campaign. He was 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA and 111 strikeouts over 130 2/3 innings in 26 games, including 20 starts, in 2014.
After struggling at the outset, though, the former first-round pick added a sinker to his arsenal and was a completely different pitcher from that point on.
If you were looking for a breakout star in the American League this season, Stroman certainly would have been on a short list.
Now the Blue Jays are left scrambling heading into a season they thought would end with their first postseason appearance since 1993. It seems as if we say this every year about the Blue Jays, but with the AL East as wide open as it’s been in recent memory, you certainly could have stated a case for them.
And you still may. Hear me out here.
Even before Stroman went down, the Blue Jays probably could have used another starting pitcher or two. The last time I checked, the New York Mets not only have an abundance of good, young arms, which, of course, is not a problem unless you have other holes.
And the Mets do, particularly at shortstop, preferably one who can leadoff.
Perhaps I am still out of my mind from the news that Darrelle Revis is coming back to New York, but why wouldn’t the Mets offer up one of those pitchers for Jose Reyes?
The sticking point for the Mets could be that Reyes is owed $22 million a season over the next three years. The Jays would move him, though. For Reyes’ own sake, he needs to get out of Toronto. That turf is taking a toll on those precious knees.
It’s probably a longshot, but these are two teams who have done business in the past. And given the flurry of activity in the NFL this past week, why not throw some crazy MLB trade proposals out there.
Let’s be honest, it’s still better than talking about spring training games.
Chris Ruddick is the MLB Editor at SportsNetwork.com.