Special to Yahoo Sports
Cleveland Indians second baseman, Jason Kipnis – by Virginia Zakas
Kipnis hasn’t been able to shake the right rotator cuff strain that has sidelined him for much of the spring. Early in spring training he was dealing with inflammation in his throwing shoulder and made just two Cactus League appearances. When the shoulder pain wasn’t letting up in March, he went for a second opinion. He was told to take 4-5 weeks off to allow time for his shoulder to heal.
Kipnis is making progress but is still a few weeks away from his projected timeline. The Indians placed him on the 10-day DL, although he says he has recently “turned the corner” in his recovery. Even so, Kipnis could miss all of April as he still needs time to ramp up his workouts then report to a minor league team for a rehab assignment. Because he wasn’t able to hit much this spring, it will likely be more than just a few games as he works to get his timing back at the plate.
As Kipnis’ shoulder continues to heal, he remains at an Elevated Injury Risk. While he’s close to full health, a setback at any point wouldn’t be surprising. Shoulders can be tricky as a player starts to throw a lot more and take more swings in the cage. His Batter Power is also “Weak,” but that should improve over the next few weeks if he avoids a setback.
The Indians will play it safe with their second baseman with an eye on a deep run in the playoffs. Kipnis missing a few extra games now won’t hurt them, but re-injuring his shoulder would be a significant loss late in the year.
For now Yandy Diaz will take over at third while Jose Ramirez slides to second. Ramirez was great during Cactus League play and has a homer with 4 RBI on the young season. Diaz has earned his role as an everyday player while Kipnis is out and should remain a valuable bench piece even when he returns.
White Sox pitcher, Carlos Rodon – by Andrew Board
Rodon is currently suffering from biceps bursitis in his throwing arm, which has caused him to open the season on the 10-Day DL. Rodon could reportedly start throwing off the mound by April 10th, which puts his preliminary time frame for a return to the majors around 5-6 weeks.
According to Inside Injuries, the former number 3 overall pick is an high injury risk with a below average Health Performance Factor, so that 5-6 week time frame sounds about right. With an Optimal Recovery Time of 4 weeks (meaning that’s when his arm will be healthy again), it makes sense that it would then take a few more weeks to build up his strength and stamina. The White Sox will likely be cautious with their young left-hander given the tendency for these types of injuries to linger, but it shouldn’t a long-term issue since there is no structural damage.
Rodon was a breakout candidate going into his third season after two mediocre seasons to start his career. He posted a disappointing 4.04 ERA last season after a somewhat promising rookie campaign in 2015, but some of the peripheral stats have been there. Rodon has posted solid strikeout totals in his brief career so far, sitting right around 9 Ks per 9 innings pitched. Fantasy wise, he isn’t a great option in shallow leagues at the moment, but owners should keep him on their radar when he does return.
New York Mets pitcher, Steven Matz – by Ryan Nelson
Just days into the new season, the injury bug has already found its way into the Mets’ pitching staff. Young lefty Steven Matz revealed Monday morning that he had been diagnosed with a strained flexor tendon.
Matz has said that he will avoid surgery if possible. His current plan is to rest his arm through April and pick up throwing again at the end of the month. But he will not immediately return, as a throwing program and potential rehab starts in the minors would come first.
The Mets will certainly miss Matz, as he is probably the third or fourth starter (depending on your views of the also oft-injured Matt Harvey). Luckily for the Mets, they still have one of the better rotations in baseball even without Matz, the big three being Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, and Harvey. They have other young pitchers impressing early on as well, including Zack Wheeler and Robert Gsellman, who was masterful in his brief stint last year.