Injury Notes: Rangers, Tigers, Treinen, Martin

MLB Trade Rumors

Orthopedic surgeon and Rangers head physician Dr. Keith Meister recently spoke to Ken Rosenthal and Eno Sarris of The Athletic to discuss the increasing number of injuries around the game, which he suggests could be due to the prevalence of sweepers and hard changeups in today’s game. Meister suggested to Rosenthal and Sarris that “spin is worse” than even velocity in terms of its impact on pitcher health, as both of the aforementioned pitches put additional stress on the pitcher’s arm. Rosenthal and Sarris went on to note that Meister shared his findings on the matter with league executives for a study focused on injury prevention, with the league intending to create a task force on the matter once the study is complete.

It seems as though players remain skeptical of the idea that certain breaking balls are creating an injury problem in the league, with Chris McCosky of The Detroit News noting that several Tigers pitchers seemed to hold reservations regarding the concept. Southpaw Tarik Skubal told McCosky that he believes velocity to have “more of a correlation” with injury than specific pitches, while adding that he doesn’t believe “any one thing” has led to the increase in pitcher injuries in recent years. One of the game’s most promising young lefties, Skubal was limited to just 36 starts across the past two seasons by flexor-tendon surgery. For their part, Rosenthal and Sarris note in their own article that many pitchers in the big leagues view injuries as an “occupational hazard” and are unbothered by the spiking injury rates around the game.

Those hurlers aren’t alone in uncertainty regarding Meister’s assertion, with Rosenthal and Sarris pointing out that while Meister suggests that increased grip strength is being used to improve spin rates at the expense of pitcher health, one pitching coach noted that “research is divided” on the correlation between grip strength and spin rates. Regardless of its cause, there’s no doubt that pitchers have been facing more injuries in recent years. Rosenthal and Sarris note that, per Meister, he operated upon around 230 elbow ligaments in 2023 and that this year is “way ahead” of that same pace. Lucas Giolito, Kodai Senga, and Justin Verlander are among the pitchers who have dealt with elbow and shoulder issues this spring, while the likes of Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Shane McClanahan, Brandon Woodruff and Shohei Ohtani are among the many top pitchers who will be sidelined for at least the first half of the 2024 campaign (if not longer) after undergoing surgery last year.

More injury-related notes from around the league…

  • Dodgers right-hander Blake Treinen was struck by a comebacker during today’s spring training game against Texas, with The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya among those to note that the Dodgers diagnosed the issue as a right rib contusion following Treinen’s departure from the game. Treinen is set to undergo both x-rays and a CT scan in the wake of the incident, with manager Dave Roberts indicating to reporters (including Ardaya) that the club will have more information on the right-hander’s status tomorrow. Treinen, 36 in June, has long been among the most talented relievers in the game but has struggled to stay on the field in recent years, pitching just five innings since the end of the 2021 season. Should he remain healthy enough to stay on the mound, he figures to be a key piece of the relief mix in L.A. alongside the likes of Evan Phillips and Brusdar Graterol.
  • Red Sox righty Chris Martin was pulled from a live batting practice session earlier today after a pair of warm-up pitches, with Chris Cotillo of MassLive indicating that, per manager Alex Cora, Martin was suffering from groin tightness. Cora added that the issue had “nothing” to do with Martin’s arm and that the club figures to re-evaluate Martin in the coming days. The soon-to-be 37-year-old hurler is coming off a dominant season on the mound for Boston last year where he posted a 1.05 ERA in 55 appearances. Martin has found his name in the rumor mill this winter as a potential trade candidate, and while it’s possible that the veteran’s groin issue could be a cause of concern for potential suitors, he appears less likely to be moved following the deal that sent fellow set-up option John Schreiber to the Royals and instead seems likely to join fellow veteran trade candidate Kenley Jansen at the back of the Red Sox bullpen to open the year.

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