O captain! My captain!
Derek Jeter may not have suffered the same fate as the subject of Walt Whitman's famous poem, but it came out Thursday that Jeter will be out until after the All-Star break due to a small crack in his surgically-repaired left ankle. Another surgery won't be required, but the injury means the shortstop will have already turned 39 before he plays his first game in 2013.
It's certainly not good news for anyone involved. It's yet another setback for a Yankees team ravaged by injuries this year. For Jeter, the injury all-but-guarantees he will play fewer than 100 games in a season for the first time since his debut year in 1995. And for fantasy owners who grabbed Jeter hoping for a short absence, they will now be forced to look for a more permanent solution.
The other bad news for fantasy owners is the massive black hole currently occupying shortstop at Yankee Stadium in Jeter's absence. Eduardo Nunez, Jeter's primary replacement, is hitting .240/.323/.280 in 10 games, and there's no sign of an upgrade on the way. Even when Jeter does return, there's no guarantee that an aging player coming off an ankle injury will return to his former level of production.
Like many positions in the Bronx this year, it's best to avoid the Yankees shortstop -- whoever it is -- for the foreseeable future.
While the Yankees received some bad news, their AL East rivals received a positive report from one of their stars.
David Ortiz told reporters that he is ready to return to the Red Sox lineup on Friday. Ortiz has missed the first 19 games with inflammation in both of his heels, but he's been playing in rehab games the past few days and declared himself ready to go. Jackie Bradley Jr. was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Ortiz.
The ailment has primarily affected Papi's ability to run, something he does poorly even without two bad wheels, so his power should still be present upon his return. He hit a home run in his final rehab game on Thursday, proving that if he's not completely up to game speed, he's close. While nothing has been said regarding where he'll hit in the Boston lineup, he would slide nicely between Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli as the No. 3 hitter.
After last year was the Year of the Rookie Hitter, it has been just the opposite in the early part of 2013.
On the heels of strong showings from young pitchers like Jose Fernandez and Shelby Miller to begin the season, Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani made his first major league start on Thursday and lived up to his billing. Baseball America's No. 82 prospect coming into the season, Cingrani struck out eight Marlins over five innings to pick up his first major league win. His only blemish was a solo home run allowed to Justin Ruggiano.
Cingrani's best pitch is his fastball, and he used it early and often to get Marlins batters swinging. The matchup was as soft as it gets these days, so Cingrani shouldn't be regarded as the next coming of Aroldis Chapman, but a date with the Cubs is next on the agenda. Feel comfortable riding Cingrani while the schedule smiles on him.
National League Quick Hits: Freddie Freeman (oblique) will begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Gwinnett. There's a chance he's activated as early as Monday ... Justin Upton hit his league-leading ninth home run of the season. He had just 17 all of 2012 ... Edward Mujica picked up a four-out save for the Cardinals. Expect the next save opportunity to be his as well ... Francisco Liriano (arm) is expected to make three more rehab starts. That puts him on track for a return to the Pirates rotation in early May ... Carlos Villanueva turned in another strong start, holding the Rangers to two runs through seven innings. Villanueva has a 1.29 ERA and 0.81 WHIP through three starts ... John Lannan (quadriceps) could miss 6-to-8 weeks, according to manager Charlie Manuel. Tyler Cloyd will likely take his place in the rotation ... Adam Wainwright picked up his third win of the year, allowing three runs over seven innings to the Phillies. Wainwright hasn't walked a batter while recording 28 strikeouts in 29 innings this season ... Johnny Cueto (strained lat) still has no timetable to begin throwing. Tony Cingrani started in his place on Thursday ... Welington Castillo went 4-for-4 Thursday, raising his average to .425 in the process. He's a sneaky good play in deeper mixed leagues ... Dexter Fowler hit his seventh home run of the season. The outfielder may finally be ready for his close-up.
American League Quick Hits: Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he expects R.A. Dickey to make his next start. Dickey kept the White Sox scoreless through six innings Thursday but exited with back and neck tightness ... Jon Lester won his third-straight decision, limiting the Indians to two runs over seven innings. He now owns a 1.73 ERA through four starts ... Dayan Viciedo suffered a strained left oblique while swinging Thursday. He will be re-evaluated on Friday, but a DL stint is likely in his future ... Hisashi Iwakuma blanked the Tigers for six innings Thursday before exiting with a blister on his pitching hand. He now has a 1.69 ERA and 0.52 WHIP through 26 2/3 innings ... John Lackey (biceps) will likely make a minor league start at Double-A Portland on Monday. If all goes well, he could be back with the big club in short order ... Brian Roberts (knee) jogged on a treadmill in a pool Thursday. There's still no timetable for his return ... Jason Kipnis (elbow) will likely return to the Indians lineup on Friday. He hasn't played in a week due to left elbow soreness ... Brett Wallace was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Wallace is hitting just .042 in 26 plate appearances this season ... Sergio Santos was diagnosed with a strain of the flexor pronator muscle in his right elbow. He will be shut down a week before being re-evaluated.
O captain! My captain!