Baseball just got a lot less fun.
The final few weeks of the 2019 season did, at least, as it was announced Sunday that another of the game's best players -- or rather, the game's best player -- will miss the remainder of the year due to injury. Less than a week after Christian Yelich was lost due to a fractured kneecap, the Angels said Sunday that Mike Trout is set to undergo season-ending surgery on his right foot to address Morton's neuroma.
“I’ve been dealing with it for like the last month, and it progressively got worse,” Trout said Sunday. “That’s what I said when they made the decision to just get it out. I was just tired of having to deal with it, having to come in and worry about my foot.”
Trout hadn't played since September 7 due to the injury, but the hope had been that he could return soon with management of the issue. With time running out and Trout still feeling pain during on-field activities, the decision was made to shut him down.
The move makes sense for all parties. For Trout, there's no need to play through pain and risk further injury, or risk delaying the procedure and having it affect his 2020 season in any way. For the Angels, they've been officially eliminated from postseason contention, so having their best player struggle through the season's final few weeks would be a moot point.
It's still a disappointing development given how good Trout has been this year. He finishes the year with 45 homers, 104 RBI, 110 runs scored and 11 steals to go with a .291/.438/.645 line in 134 games. Even with missing most of the final month he still set a personal best with his 45 homers and was likely going to achieve a new career-best RBI total as well.
The good news is that by treating it now it's not likely to be something that drags on into his offseason preparation for next year. Recovery is expected to take a month at most, meaning Trout will be able to have something close to a normal offseason heading into 2020.
For the Angels, the blow came just days after Shohei Ohtani underwent season-ending knee surgery on Friday. The team has also lost Justin Upton for the year, and Tommy La Stella has missed the entire second half with a fractured right tibia. On Sunday, Brian Goodwin manned center field with Kole Calhoun in right and Michael Hermosillo in left.
Rizzo Set For MRI on Ankle
The Cubs won big on Sunday, but it was one big loss that has them worried heading into Monday.
In the third inning of a 16-6 beatdown of the Pirates, Anthony Rizzo had to be helped off the field after spraining his right ankle while trying to field a bunt. Rizzo rolled the ankle while running in from his first base position to pick up the Trevor Williams bunt, getting a throw off toward first while falling to the ground in pain.
Although they won the game, Kris Bryant said nobody could escape the feeling of loss, too.
“The fans were upset. We were upset. It was like a light switch," Bryant said after the game. "That’s kind of the effect Anthony has here.”
The team was able to rule out a fracture with X-rays, but Rizzo will undergo an MRI on Monday to try to better gauge the extent of the injury. Given Rizzo's reaction on the field, it doesn't seem like an injury that he'll bounce back from with much speed.
“He was in some pretty good pain and you knew he was coming out of the game,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Just an awkward way he twisted and fell.”
Replacing Rizzo internally will be a tall order. The 30-year-old is hitting .289/.404/.516 with 26 homers, 93 RBI, 88 runs scored and five steals in 140 games this year and has hit all over the upper half of the Cubs lineup -- including some leadoff, where he was batting Sunday, as they've searched for a viable top-of-the-order hitter -- this season.
It will be especially difficult given that the team is already without star shortstop Javier Baez. Baez was diagnosed with a hairline fracture on his left thumb and is expected to miss at least the rest of September.
Ian Happ took over at first base after Rizzo's departure Sunday, and he, along with Daniel Descalso and David Bote, will likely be asked to fill in, if not at first base, around the infield as Maddon shuffles pieces to patch his leaking infield.
We'll know more Monday.
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Betts To See Team Doctor For Ailing Foot
As though all that wasn't enough, the weekend wasn't done threatening to take all our favorite players from us.
Mookie Betts is set to have his left foot examined by the Red Sox team doctor Monday after he sat out for the second straight day Sunday. Betts has been experiencing soreness in the foot, an ailment he believes stemmed from playing on the Rogers Centre turf last week.
“It will be all right,” Betts said. “It’s just one of those things where when you’re coming off the turf, it’s kind of tough.”
“He’s still sore,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “But we don’t feel like it’s something that’s going to take him a while. Hopefully, he’ll be back in the lineup for the Giants and finish the season strong.”
As with Trout, there are factors at play here that complicate the situation. The Sox, like the Angels, are not in playoff contention, so neither the team nor the player have incentive to push the issue.
And like Trout, Betts is having another fantastic year at the plate. The 26-year-old is hitting .293/.391/.527 with 28 homers, 78 RBI, a league-leading 131 runs scored and 15 steals in 144 games. The 131 runs scored is already a career high for Betts, and he also has a chance to top his personal-best 32 homers from 2018 with a strong close to the year.
Whether he's allowed to pursue those goals is a question we'll have answered Monday.
National League Quick Hits: Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday that it wouldn't be surprising if Josh Bell (groin) is sidelined for "a handful of days at least." Bell tweaked his left groin on Friday and it sounds like it will probably be at least next weekend before we see him again. ... Chris Archer (shoulder) will be shut down for the remainder of the season. Archer has been throwing as he works his way back from inflammation in his pitching shoulder, but the Pirates see no reason to push him to return at this point. The right-hander will finish the season with a disappointing 5.19 ERA, although he did finish strong in August. ... Eugenio Suarez hit a pair of solo home runs, tying him for the National League lead, to help the Reds top the Diamondbacks 3-1 on Sunday. Suarez crushed a solo homer to dead center field in the fourth inning and walloped another solo shot to left-center in the sixth for an encore. The homers were number 46 and 47 this year for the 28-year-old, tying him with Mets rookie Pete Alonso for the league lead. Suarez also reached the 100-RBI plateau for the second consecutive year, and he's got 85 runs scored to go with a .271/.350/.580 line in 147 games. ... Kris Bryant went 3-for-5 with two homers and four RBI to help the Cubs complete a three-game series sweep against the Pirates with a 16-6 blowout victory on Sunday. The 27-year-old third baseman has quietly compiled an incredible offensive campaign, hitting .288/.386/.538 with 105 runs scored, 31 home runs, 77 RBI and four stolen bases across 606 plate appearances. He’s eclipsed the 30-homer plateau for the second time in his career and has a realistic shot at recording a .300 batting average and a .400 on-base percentage with a strong two-week stretch to close out the year. ... Zack Wheeler was outstanding in a tough-luck no-decision against the Dodgers on Sunday night, racking up nine strikeouts over seven innings of one-run baseball. He'll carry a 4.09 ERA and 1.29 WHIP into Saturday's start against the Reds in Cincinnati. ... Ryan McMahon went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs, three runs scored and four RBI in Sunday's 10-5 win over the Padres. The multi-homer game was his fourth this year, giving him 22 homers, 80 RBI and 67 runs scored in 130 games. The 24-year-old has hit .257/.336/.461 while playing all over the infield for the Rockies. ... Trevor Bauer struck out nine and allowed one run over eight innings Sunday, earning the win over the Diamondbacks. The 28-year-old has been mercurial this year in what's generally been a disappointing follow-up to a Cy Young-worthy campaign in 2018, but he's still very capable of shutting down even the best offenses on a given day. Bauer will carry a 4.41 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 245/82 K/BB ratio into Saturday's matchup with the Mets.
American League Quick Hits: Yankees activated RHP Dellin Betances from the 60-day injured list. Betances admitted Sunday that his arm strength still isn't where it needs to be, but he said "I like where I’m at" and feels it will be there by the end of the month. Nobody took issue with where he was at Sunday, when he struck out both batters he faced during his season debut against the Blue Jays. ... Jason Kipnis exited Sunday's game versus the Twins due to right wrist discomfort. Kipnis missed a little time a few weeks ago with the same injury. Kipnis had a double and a run scored in three plate appearances before being lifted. He'll undergo an MRI on the wrist Monday. ... Kyle Lewis went 3-for-6 with a three-run home run and two runs scored as the Mariners outlasted the White Sox 11-10 on Sunday. With Sunday's three-hit game, Lewis is batting .360/.370/.920 in his six games with the Mariners, including a pair of three-hit performances. Few in the league are hotter at the moment. ... Eddie Rosario went 3-for-5 and belted a pair of solo home runs in a loss to the Indians on Sunday. Rosario is blowing away his career highs this year for a Twins team that is scoring a lot more runs than in prior seasons. He has a .275 batting average with 31 home runs, 99 RBI and 85 runs scored in 126 games. His previous career high for RBI was 78 yet he is primed to cruise past the century mark this week. Rosario is the fourth Twin to reach 30 homers this year, which ties a major league record. ... Randal Grichuk clubbed two dingers and drove in four runs in a 6-4 triumph over the Yankees on Sunday. Grichuk has plenty of pop (now with 28 home runs) to help his fantasy owners, but the power comes at the price of a low batting average. He is slashing .235/.284/.455 with 71 RBI and two stolen bases in 140 games. ... Christian Vazquez powered his club to a 6-3 win over the Phillies by cracking a grand slam and a solo homer on Sunday. He had a total of 10 home runs in his four-year career prior to 2019 but now has 21 bombs this year alone. He has a .273 batting average with 65 RBI and 59 runs scored in 482 plate appearances. Vazquez is the Red Sox' primary catcher but has also played some first base, second base and third base this year. ... Welington Castillo hit a grand slam and finished with five RBI in Sunday's loss to the Mariners. Castillo has struggled overall this year and has slipped behind All-Star James McCann in the pecking order post-dish in Chicago, hitting just .204/.267/.398 in 66 games. The 32-year-old will continue to spell McCann for the rest of the year before likely hitting the open market this winter.