Time is working against A.J. Pollock.
The All-Star outfielder has been dealing with right elbow soreness since March 8, and what started as a minor inconvenience could end up cutting into his season. Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale acknowledged Saturday that Pollock could start the year on the disabled list if he doesn't get up to speed before the close of camp.
"He has to get enough at-bats to feel ready," Hale said. "So if that’s not possible, then maybe the DL is an option."
Pollock had an MRI come back clean on March 10, and he has progressed to the point that he played in a minor league game on March 24. As recently as last week, Hale expressed confidence that Pollock would be ready for Opening Day.
Pollock hasn't hit any setbacks in his recovery, rather, it has just been a slow process to get back to full health. For his part, the 28-year-old said he's pleased with his progress.
"It’s good to get some at-bats," Pollock said. "There’s a couple of things I have to work on. But overall, just getting out there and being another step toward getting back with the squad is always a positive."
Even if he starts the season on the DL, it shouldn't be a long stay. Of course, we said that three weeks ago.
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Smith Down, Jeffress Up In Milwaukee
The Brewers' closer competition came to an unfortunate end Saturday.
Will Smith, who had been vying for the job with Jeremy Jeffress, was diagnosed with a torn LCL in his right knee, an injury that will sideline him for a "significant" amount of time, according to Brewers manager Craig Counsell.
"It's not good news," said Counsell. "He's got a pretty significant knee injury. He'll start the season on the DL (disabled list)."
Counsell had named the two relievers co-closers, so with Smith out, Jeffress will most likely be the team's closer by default. Corey Knebel and Michael Blazek could also take on larger late-inning roles in Smith's absence, and if Jeffress falters or Counsell wants more ninth-inning options, one could also pitch his way into save opportunities.
Jeffress winning the job, even if it's a hollow victory, is a best-case scenario for fantasy owners. The 28-year-old posted a 2.65 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 68 innings last year, and his mid-90s fastball and wicked curve most fit the traditional closer profile. The Brewers won't win a lot of games this year, but closers are finite in number and Jeffress should be one of the better options among the bottom tier.
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Grandal To Start On The DL?
The Dodgers have suffered a slew of injuries this spring, and at least one of the injured parties is resigned to starting the year on the DL.
“I think the main thing for them is they don’t want me to go out and [reinjure] it,” Grandal said. “So far, Barnes and A.J. have been doing a good job. Barnes has been swinging it real good. A.J.’s been catching real good. So I’m not worried about that.
“It kind of sucks, because I don’t want to start down [on the disabled list]. But we’ll see how it goes.”
Grandal has been sidelined since March 19 after feeling a twinge in his forearm. He said he hopes to resume hitting and throwing on Monday.
As he alluded to, catchers A.J. Ellis and Austin Barnes would fill in for any time missed by Grandal. Ellis is the personal catcher for Clayton Kershaw and would likely carry the load in Grandal's absence, while Barnes has four home runs and 10 RBI this spring.
Quick Hits: Buster Posey was scratched Sunday with right hip tightness, but it doesn't sound like a huge concern. The backstop is expected to be back in the Giants' lineup Monday ... The blister that forced Jake Arrieta from his Thursday start isn't a threat to his Opening Day gig, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. Pitching coach Chris Bosio called the blister "a complete non-issue" after a 46-pitch bullpen session Sunday ... Corey Seager (knee) played six innings in a minor league game Saturday. Assuming he gets through another six-inning appearance Monday, Seager will be cleared for Cactus League games in advance of an Opening Day start ... Seager's teammate Yasiel Puig (hamstring) is expected to return to spring games Monday. Puig was scratched Saturday due to left hamstring tightness, but he went through baseball activities Sunday with no issues and should be fine ... Lance McCullers (shoulder) threw another bullpen session Saturday and could throw live batting practice soon. The young righty has reported feeling great in recent days, giving hope that, while he'll still do some time on the DL to start the year, he could be back sometime in mid-to-late April ... Victor Martinez (hamstring) could return to Grapefruit League action Tuesday. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Martinez ran Saturday and "felt absolutely nothing," a good sign for V-Mart shoppers ... Pablo Sandoval (back) is expected to return to the Red Sox' lineup Monday or Tuesday. Back tightness has kept Sandoval on the sidelines in recent days, but assuming he can get back on the field before the team heads north he should be a go for Opening Day ... Michael Conforto (back) returned to the Mets' lineup Sunday, hitting his second home run of the spring in the contest. Conforto missed a few days with back stiffness but should be just fine ... The Mariners purchased the contract of first baseman Dae Ho Lee from Triple-A Tacoma, securing his spot on the Opening Day roster. He'll form the right-handed side of a platoon at first base and is worth a look in AL-only leagues ... In the "cause and effect" department, Lee's spot on the roster led the Mariners to designate Jesus Montero for assignment. It's the culmination of a long fall from grace for the former top prospect, who never found his footing in Seattle and will now try to catch on elsewhere ... David Murphy has opted out of his contract with the Red Sox, giving the club 48 hours to add him to the major league roster or grant him his outright release. If he's let go, Murphy should have a handful of interested suitors around the league ... The Indians released Will Venable. The move came after the team informed 2012 first-round pick Tyler Naquin that he'd made the Opening Day roster ... The Braves and Nationals swapped first basemen, with Tyler Moore heading to Atlanta and Nate Freiman going to the Nats.