Spring Training hinges on Red Sox arms and knees conditions
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox have known issues with arms and knees, but just what awaits with the unknown? Spring training is often the precursor to further injuries.
This spring will not be planes, trains, and automobiles in Florida for the Boston Red Sox, but arms and knees will present the subtext for the next several weeks. Much of the season will depend upon how these skeletal hinges perform. Each spring special note is the first category and that is arms the delicate conditions they reflect. Just who will suddenly strut around the ballyard with an appendage hanging like a wet noodle?
Last spring it was lefty Drew Pomeranz who went lame with a flexor muscle, but things just deteriorated for Pomeranz after that visit to the disabled list. Next, up way tendonitis and by then, Pomeranz was well on the pathway to disappointment. For the free agent to be it was a costly and lost 2018.
Also last spring it was the now almost predictable annual event of Eduardo Rodriguez‘s balky knee. The first knee issue arose in spring training circa 2016 with a dislocated knee cap. The knee issue continued into 2017 (6-7, 4.19) and last season (13-7, 3.82), but this is a new beginning for the long-touted lefty.
Steven Wright has been consigned to the bullpen for the upcoming season but is already experiencing some issues with his knee. The 34-year-old knuckleball pitcher is certainly questionable based on his previous history. A wait and see on Wright, but the prognosis exists that Wright could be inactive for extended stretches of the season.
The most notable knee, of course, is Dustin Pedroia with whom the Red Sox are hoping is about to return to a reasonable facsimile of better seasons. Wishful thinking? That will be answered as the spring progresses in both the preliminary game and the real games. Pedroia deteriorates then it becomes open season for a replacement at second base.
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The last arm issue is a shoulder issue and that is a free agent to be Chris Sale. Sale is the potential Big Kahuna in free agency and his testy shoulder will be watched diligently by all things Red Sox, but then comes the unknown and that will be just how the years of wear and tear in addition to accumulated innings have impacted Sale. Hope for the best but never exclude the worst.
Each spring it happens in camp and that goes across all of baseball with big names, little names, and no names. Already Clayton Kershaw has been shut down. Not a promising note for the Dodgers. And with Kershaw, the money impact and rotation impact is crushing.
Sonny Gray just had an elbow issue that has led to a temporary shutdown. Jed Lowrie signed a nice two-year and $20MM contract and already has had the joy of an MRI on his knee. These are but three and the list will grow.
The Red Sox will face an injury issue that is undoubtedly unexpected. That was what happened with Rodriguez and it can strike when least expected. The core players will be cautiously used and attended to like Faberge Eggs since the investment is extensive.
Players are far more likely in the game today to shut it down with even a minor injury since the possible future outcome can be career threatening and a fiscal nightmare. Players on a longer-term contract certainly have little incentive to play through the pain. Xander Bogaerts made that mistake a few years ago. Better to seek rest and rehabilitation unless job security is paramount to playing. Unlikely with the bulk of the roster.