Big League Stew

Spring Headlines: Bryce Harper feels Stephen Strasburg’s pain; Pablo Sandoval’s elbow not improving

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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A matching pair of sore left thumbs. (AP)

One day after Stephen Strasburg was struck on the left thumb by a screaming Prince Fielder line drive, teammate Bryce Harper was unable to play in Saturday’s Grapefruit League game against the New York Mets after experiencing swelling in his own left thumb.

Talk about irony… or maybe superstar teammates really can feel each other’s pain.

In all seriousness, Harper’s problem actually stems from being jammed by a pitch during an at-bat in Friday’s game and the thumb ended up swelling overnight. He was rested for precautionary reasons — manager's decision, not his — on Saturday but should return to their lineup on Sunday.

Here’s manager Davey Johnson with more on the troublesome courtesy of MLB.com’s Joey Nowak:

"I took him out after two at-bats, though I couldn't believe that ball jammed him. It was a bullet to right," Johnson said. "But he's been getting a lot of reps, a lot of ABs. I was gonna bring him today because I like to watch him play. When I took him out yesterday, it was on my mind not to have him come here. I didn't re-adjust that after I took him out. The trainers didn't talk to me about it, and I forgot about it. But when I saw [his thumb] this morning, I said, 'You're not going.' I scratched him."

The last time I can recall a manager admitting he forgot something was that infamous incident where former White Sox skipper Terry Bevington got confused during a fair or foul argument and basically ended up arguing against himself.

Anyway, nothing to see here. Harper will be fine. Strasburg will be fine. We think Davey Johnson will be, too.

Mat Latos survives line drive scare: Is it just me or have the number of scary line drives that connect with pitchers really jumped significantly in the past 12 months? The one that struck Mat Latos in his left foot/shin area on Saturday wasn’t nearly as dangerous or scary as some wer've seen, but it could have been a huge problem for the Reds had it been hit slightly harder or struck a different spot. Thankfully, it did not, and now several Reds writers are reporting that postgame x-rays were negative and Latos should be able bounce back quickly.

Latos is currently scheduled to start Cincinnati’s second game of the season which will be an interleague matchup against the Los Angeles Angels.

Time to worry about the Panda?:

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Sleeping on the elbow doesn't help. (USA Today)

Unable to participate in light tossing on Saturday as he attempts to overcome elbow soreness, Pablo Sandoval’s return may to the San Francisco Giant’s lineup may still be a ways off. In fact, manager Bruce Bochy admitted on Saturday that the next 24 hours will be critical in determining whether or not the Kung Fu Panda will be available for opening day.

From MLB.com’s Chris Haft:

Bochy said that he wasn't yet ready to declare that Sandoval should begin the season on the disabled list. But the next 24 hours could be critical.

"If he's not showing improvement tomorrow, I'll probably be worried," Bochy said Saturday.

Bochy said in response to a question that surgery "has not been discussed at all" for the 26-year-old Sandoval, whose injury history includes fractured hamate bones in both hands and left foot, left hamstring and right shoulder maladies.

Bochy was planning on penciling Sandoval in his line up every day at third base and hitting third, so he‘ll be forced to do some shuffling to make up for the potential loss.

Jason Motte has mild elbow strain: This injury news is a little more certain in St. Louis, though that doesn’t mean it’s good. According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, closer Jason Motte is not likely to be available for manager Mike Matheny when the season begins after being diagnosed with a mild elbow strain.

General manager John Mozeliak said Motte will "likely" start the season on the disabled list with the flexor muscle strain, which is considered a slight tear of the tendon. A magnetic resonance imaging scan take of the join showed no damage to the ligament, an official confirmed.

"Right now it's going to slow him down," Mozeliak said. "We're certainly going to be aggressive with the rehab. The DL is likely going to happen."

With Motte down, Matheny will turn to Mitchell Boggs in the ninth inning initially. Trevor Rosenthal will also be in the mix in the eighth and ninth as the Cards attempt to piece their bullpen picture together in April.

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