The Red Sox were hoping to activate David Ortiz for Friday's series opener against the Royals, but it's increasingly unlikely that he'll be ready by then.
After Ortiz had to be scratched from Sunday's rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket due to illness, he was unable to play Monday because of mild soreness in his left heel. The 37-year-old slugger was limited to five games after the All-Star break last year due to a right Achilles injury, but he has dealt with inflammation in both of his heels since the early part of spring training.
We should know more regarding Ortiz's timeline after he is re-evaluated on Tuesday, but remember that he was originally expected to get somewhere around 20-30 at-bats during his rehab assignment. Meanwhile, he has only logged seven at-bats over two games thus far.
Ortiz has some financial incentive to return as soon as possible, as his 2014 salary drops from $15 million to $13 million if he spends more than 20 days on the disabled list this season, but the hit in the wallet might be unavoidable at this point.
Lawrie, Headley Nearing Returns
While Ortiz's rehab stint is on hold for the moment, two high-profile fantasy third basemen are gearing up for their respective returns.
We'll start with Toronto's Brett Lawrie, who is set to be activated from the disabled list Tuesday following a brief two-game rehab assignment with High-A Dunedin.
Interestingly, Lawrie played second base in both games, though Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Monday that the 23-year-old will be the regular third baseman upon his return. Still, Anthopoulos hasn't ruled out the possibility that Lawrie could play second base once per week as the club attempts to get by in their infield while Jose Reyes is sidelined with a severe sprain of his left ankle.
Lawrie has never played second base in the majors and wasn't considered a strong defender there during his time in the minors. Prior to the past two days, he hadn't played the position since 2010 in Double-A. Still, the added position-eligibility would come in handy in fantasy leagues. Same goes for Jose Bautista if he got some additional looks at third base.
As for Headley, he played in his third rehab game with High-A Lake Elsinore on Monday and could be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday or Wednesday.
You may remember that when Headley suffered the small fracture on the tip of his left thumb last month, the early expectation was that he would miss the entire month of April. Fortunately for the Padres, he appears on track to return well ahead of schedule.
In a way, I think that Headley's thumb injury was a blessing in disguise for some fantasy owners, as he was being overdrafted based on his 2012 production. His speed gives his value a nice cushion, but I'm skeptical whether he can maintain his lofty home run-to-fly ball rate from last season, even with the cozier dimensions at PETCO Park. But if you got him on an injury discount, things have a chance to work out pretty well here.
Mujica as Cards' Closer?
Drew talked about the uncertainty of the Cardinals' closer job in yesterday's Daily Dose, but there may be some clarity on the horizon. For now, anyway. While the struggling Mitchell Boggs recorded the final three outs in Monday's 10-6 victory over the Pirates, he did so with Edward Mujica warming up in the bullpen.
Perhaps the job hasn't officially changed hands, but Cardinals manager Mike Matheny doesn't appear to have a ton of faith in Boggs at the moment. And it's hard to blame him. While Boggs didn't need to get bailed out Monday, he needed a total of 22 pitches to get through the frame and gave up a hit and a walk. It's unlikely he'll be trusted with the next save chance.
Assuming Jason Motte eventually needs season-ending Tommy John surgery, I wouldn't be surprised to see hard-throwing rookie Trevor Rosenthal emerge with the job at some point, as he possesses the swing-and-miss stuff managers usually look for in a closer. But don't overlook Mujica. The 28-year-old right-hander may not have a huge strikeout rate, but he limits walks and owns a 3.17 ERA in 201 appearances since the start of 2010. And while he has been known as a fly ball pitcher in the past, he has become more adept at inducing grounders over the past two seasons. He should be owned in all formats.
NL Quick Hits: Giancarlo Stanton (shoulder) missed his fifth straight game Monday, but will attempt to take batting practice Tuesday … Ryan Zimmerman is currently dealing with a hamstring cramp, but it didn't stop him from hitting his first home run of the season Monday … Jordan Zimmermann gave up three runs in a complete-game win over the Marlins on Monday … Carl Crawford had three hits in Monday's loss to the Padres and is hitting .396 through 13 games … Aaron Hill underwent an MRI on his left wrist Monday and could require a trip to the disabled list … Neil Walker smacked his first home run of the season in Monday's loss to the Cardinals … Danny Espinosa (wrist) hopes to return to the lineup Wednesday … Contrary to previous reports, Shaun Marcum is scheduled to throw 3-4 innings in extended spring training on Thursday and will not be ready to join the Mets this weekend … Bronson Arroyo yielded two runs in eight innings Monday in a win over the Phillies … Ted Lilly has had a change of heart and will continue his minor league rehab assignment Tuesday with Triple-A Albuquerque … Darwin Barney (knee) had four hits in a rehab game Monday and is expected to be activated from the disabled list Tuesday … Brian McCann (shoulder) will begin catching in extended spring training games later this week … Frank Francisco (elbow) will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday with High-A St. Lucie … Kyle McPherson received an injection in his right elbow Monday and will be shut down for the next two weeks …
AL Quick Hits: Jose Bautista was scratched from Monday's lineup due to back spasms, but he's expected to return Tuesday … While Jose Reyes will not require surgery on his left ankle, he is still expected to miss three months … Joe Mauer went 4-for-5 with a home run, a double and three RBI in Monday's win over the Angels … Coco Crisp (groin) doubled, walked twice and scored a run in his return to action Monday against the Astros … Jeremy Hellickson was handed a no-decision Monday after yielding two runs in seven innings against the Red Sox … Tommy Milone improved to 3-0 on the season by allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings Monday against the Astros … Ryan Dempster tossed seven innings of one-run ball Monday in a no-decision against the Rays … The Angels won't make a decision on whether to place Alberto Callaspo (calf) on the disabled list until later this week … Andrew Bailey blew a save Monday while filling in for Joel Hanrahan, but ended up with the victory after Mike Napoli delivered a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth … Mark Buehrle notched his first win of the season Monday after limiting the White Sox to two runs in 6 1/3 innings … Sergio Santos was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a triceps strain ... Jose Valverde struck out four batters over two innings Monday in an extended spring training game and should soon join Triple-A Toledo … Joe Blanton was touched up for four runs in 4 2/3 innings in Monday's loss to the Twins and now has an 8.59 ERA and six home runs allowed in his first three starts … John Lackey (biceps) is scheduled to resume throwing Tuesday … Stephen Pryor was placed on the disabled list Monday with a torn right lat muscle … The Blue Jays designated Casper Wells for assignment less than one week after claiming him off waivers from the Mariners …