Papi's Progress

Patrick Daugherty
Patrick Daugherty checks in on David Ortiz's progress while breaking down Matt Adams' hot start in Thursday's Dose

Although Joel Hanrahan is struggling and Jackie Bradley is looking a little green around the gills, the Red Sox are off to a good start, all things considered. As a reward, they may soon get their captain back.

After making his way through extended spring training, David Ortiz (heels) is slated to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday, and could rejoin the Sawx as early as next Friday. That’s assuming he doesn’t suffer any setbacks — something he’s grown increasingly prone to — but the finish line is finally in sight for a player who came to the plate just 21 times after the All-Star break last season.   

The Red Sox haven’t had any problem getting on base this season — they boasted an MLB leading .361 OBP coming into play on Wednesday — but have been in the middle of the pack when it comes to clearing them. Their nine dingers before the start of yesterday’s games were just 14th in the league.

Ortiz should provide his usual bop in the middle of the order, and spare the Red Sox from doing things like starting Daniel Nava at DH. Although he’s another year older and ever more injury prone, Big Papi needs to be 100 percent owned in fantasy leagues.  

Saunders Suffers Shoulder Injury

The bad news? The Mariners got decked by the Astros for the second straight night on Wednesday. The even worse news? They lost Michael Saunders in the process.

One moment, Saunders was careening into the outfield wall. The next, he was trudging off the field with his right shoulder dangling at his side. Although the Mariners have thus far only allowed that Saunders will miss “some time,” a DL stint — potentially a lengthy one — is looking like a strong possibility.

Saunders is off to a strong start (.286/.333/.500) after his promising 2012. A prolonged absence would be good news for Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez, but bad news for everyone else, including fantasy owners.

Big City

His teammates call him “Big City.” Others call him “Big Mayo." Whatever you want to call him, there’s no disputing that Matt Adams is off to a scorching start, yanking two home runs and driving in seven runs in just 15 plate appearances. He’s batting .643/.667/1.214.

It’s quite possible Adams’ hot start isn’t a fluke. A 23rd round pick in 2009, Adams started bashing his first day on the farm, and never stopped. He posted a .318/.365/.565 slash across 1,569 plate appearances, homering 82 times while ripping 102 doubles.    

The kid can flat hit. The problem? So can a lot of other players in St. Louis. Although the Cardinals are making a concerted effort to get their veterans more days off this season, Adams is going to need someone to get hurt to crack the lineup on an everyday basis. That very well could happen, but until it does, Adams is a dubious proposition in 12-14 team mixed leagues.

There Are Slow Starts, and Then There’s...

Barry Zito has more hits (three) than Jason Heyward (two) so far this season. This is not a joke. It’s also no reason to panic. Heyward has drawn five walks in 34 plate appearances, and...well that’s sort of it. But seriously, you’re already worried? The 23-year-old .258/.351/.443 career hitter should come around soon enough.      

There might be slightly more reason to worry with Brett Wallace. That is, unless a 26 year old who entered 2013 with a career .250/.323/.377 slash through 792 plate appearances starting off the year 1-for-21 with 17 strikeouts doesn’t bother you. Even though Wallace is on a team with the lowest expectations in the league, he needs to start hitting, and soon. He was already on what felt like a last chance entering the season.

Then there’s Wallace’s teammate Rick Ankiel. The good news? He’s homered twice in 18 plate appearances. The bad news? He’s struck out 14 times in 18 plate appearances. The Astros will likely move on to a younger option if Ankiel hasn’t shown more consistent signs of life by the end of the month.

Game Notes: Shin-Soo Choo through nine games (44 plate appearances) as a Cincinnati Red: .371/.511/.686. Welcome to the Senior Circuit, Mr. Choo. ... Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Drew Stubbs through 29 plate appearances as an Indian: .207/.207/.276. ... Barry Zito has thrown more scoreless innings than you. ... Jake Westbrook’s shutout of the Reds was just the second complete game of the year in MLB. ... Joel Hanrahan’s ERA soared to 11.57 after he allowed five runs and two HRs against the Orioles. ... Brandon Moss drove in five more runs, bringing his season total to 10. ... Mike Trout stole his first base. ... Brandon Belt finally had a multi-hit afternoon. ... Giancarlo Stanton remained stuck on zero home runs and zero RBI. ... Chad Billingsley (elbow) won his 2013 debut. ... Carl Crawford hit just his 15th home run since leaving the Rays.  

American League Short Hops: Kelvin Herrera recorded his second save of the season, striking out the side in Kansas City’s 3-0 win over the Twins. Although a struggling Greg Holland is still the Royals’ official closer, Herrera is very much worth a flier if you’re already scrounging for saves. ... Scott Sizemore is done for the year after re-tearing his left ACL. The 28 year old’s latest injury means the A’s will be forced to turn to light-hitting Eric Sogard at second base. The Sogard experiment may not last long if Jemile Weeks stays hot for Triple-A Sacramento. ... Josh Reddick (wrist) could return as early as this evening. ... Erick Aybar’s heel injury “doesn’t look good.” A DL stint is looming. ... The same is true for Gordon Beckham (wrist).    

National League Short Hops: Chase Headley (thumb) took BP from both sides of the plate Wednesday. If San Diego’s ascendant third baseman continues to progress on schedule, he’ll be back before the end of the month. ... Shaun Marcum (neck) could return “relatively quickly.” He’ll pitch in a simulated game this weekend. He’s worth stashing if you have an available DL spot. ... Rafael Soriano has a “tweak” in his leg. A DL stint appears unlikely, but owners need to stash Drew Storen for the time being. ... Wandy Rodriguez (hamstring) is expected to miss his scheduled Sunday start. ... Sean Marshall (shoulder) finally landed on the disabled list. He’ll likely miss at least the rest of April.

Cubs Short Hops: Jorge Soler did his best Happy Gilmore on Wednesday. ... A severed goat’s head was delivered to Wrigley Field. It’s unclear if it was meant to reverse the curse or reinforce it.