In news that hardly qualified as a shocker, Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy acknowledged Wednesday morning that he will begin the season on the disabled list as he rehabs from October microfracture surgery on his right knee.
With the season just one week away, the prospect of Murphy suiting up on Opening Day has been unrealistic for quite a while, but an exact timetable remains uncertain as we move into late-March. According to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, Murphy has been limited to fielding balls hit directly at him and has yet to face live pitching. Still in the process of strengthening his knee, he hasn’t progressed beyond running on a treadmill.
Obviously Opening Day isn’t the be-all and end-all for a team with World Series aspirations, but Murphy’s season debut doesn’t sound imminent. It’s a tricky situation for fantasy owners. His ADP (average draft position) in Yahoo leagues sits at 60.4, which is a bit early given the uncertainty, not just for this type of procedure but also for someone going into his age-33 season. Jonathan Schoop, DJ LeMahieu, Whit Merrifield, Rougned Odor, and Javier Baez are among the second-base eligible players who are being drafted later in Yahoo.
Fortunately for the Nationals, Howie Kendrick is a capable fill-in option at second base. The 34-year-old was brought back this winter on a two-year, $7 million contract after batting .315/.368/.475 with nine homers, 41 RBI, and 12 steals over 91 games last season. He could be worth a look in some deeper mixed fantasy leagues.
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Brantley Homers in Cactus Debut
Michael Brantley announced his return with authority on Wednesday against the Royals, homering in his first at-bat in his Cactus League debut. He went 1-for-3 on the night and also played five innings in left field.
Brantley is coming off surgery in October to stabilize the ligaments in his right ankle. While the Indians eased him into running before clearing him for game action, he has been hitting without restrictions all spring. As a result, he’s still holding out hope to be ready for Opening Day, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he needed a little more time.
Rehabbing from surgery is nothing new for Brantley. The 30-year-old was limited to 11 games in 2016 following shoulder surgery and was in rehab mode from biceps surgery last spring. He ended up dealing with ankle issues for most of 2017 while batting .299/.357/.444 with nine homers, 52 RBI, and 11 steals over 90 games.
The injuries have understandably taken a toll on Brantley’s fantasy stock, as his ADP checks in at 238.8 on Yahoo, right in the same area as fellow veteran outfielders Curtis Granderson, Nick Markakis, and Josh Reddick. He’s a worthy flier given the minimal price tag.
Conforto Making Progress
The Mets have been targeting May 1 for Michael Conforto’s return from surgery to repair a torn posterior capsule in his left shoulder, but he’s doing his best to beat that timetable.
In his latest encouraging step forward, Conforto clubbed a pair of homers in 10 at-bats during a minor league scrimmage in Mets camp on Wednesday. The first was against 2017 Mets first-round pick David Peterson before he later took minor league left-hander Daniel Zamora deep.
Conforto said last week that he was confident that he would get into a Grapefruit League game before the end of spring training, but new Mets manager Mickey Callaway has ruled out that scenario. Still, he’s made enough progress to suggest that he could return at some point in April.
Conforto, 25, batted .279/.384/.555 with 27 homers and 68 RBI over 109 games last season prior to injuring his shoulder. It’s fair to wonder how his production could be impacted by the surgery, at least in the short-term, but those in mixed fantasy leagues should be willing to take a chance in the later rounds. He could turn out to be one of the better bargains for a second straight year.
Quick Hits: Carlos Carrasco exited his start on Wednesday after suffering a left foot contusion on a comebacker … Steven Souza left Wednesday’s Cactus League game after suffering an apparent arm injury while attempting a diving catch … Aaron Judge continued his dominance of the Orioles with a two-homer day on Wednesday … Mike Zunino slugged three home runs in Wednesday’s Cactus League game against the Brewers … Jose Abreu (hamstring) hopes to return to Cactus League action on Friday … Robinson Cano (hamstring) and Ichiro Suzuki (calf) returned to the Mariners’ lineup on Wednesday … Drew Pomeranz (forearm) is expected to begin the season on the disabled list … … Randal Grichuk (ribs) returned to the Blue Jays’ Grapefruit League lineup on Wednesday … Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes that Dan Straily (forearm) still has a chance to avoid the disabled list if he is cleared to throw by around Sunday … Athletics prospect left-hander A.J. Puk has been shut down with biceps soreness … Jharel Cotton (elbow) underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Wednesday … Carlos Rodon (shoulder) is scheduled to throw a side session on Thursday in White Sox camp … Wade Miley left Wednesday’s Cactus League game with an apparent groin injury … Mariners reliever David Phelps suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow and will require Tommy John surgery … Twins manager Paul Molitor said Wednesday that Eduardo Escobar will be the primary fill-in at shortstop during Jorge Polanco’s PED suspension … Erasmo Ramirez will throw a bullpen session Saturday for the first time since suffering his lat strain … Johan Camargo (side, back) will begin the season on the disabled list, with Rio Ruiz likely to pick up most of the starts at third base … White Sox manager Rick Renteria indicated Wednesday that Carson Fulmer is likely to begin the season as the team’s fifth starter … The Phillies released left-handed reliever Fernando Abad … Joaquin Benoit will miss the start of the season with a forearm strain …