Between injuries and suspensions, the last week of Major League Baseball action has been an interesting one. Though the honeymoon period of the first two weeks of the season has come and gone, teams are still dealing with slumping players, roster shuffling, injuries, and the other odds and ends of baseball that come with the daily grind of a 162-game season.
Here's a round-up of the week that was.
Yankees' right-hander Ivan Nova has decided to undergo Tommy John surgery to fix a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow...Nova's decision is similar to that of Matt Moore, the Rays starter who decided to undergo Tommy John surgery now instead of waiting until after the season. Nova and Moore are the newest members of a large group of pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery since spring training, joining Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Jarrod Parker, Bobby Parnell, Patrick Corbin, and Jameson Taillon.
Johnson, who joined the Padres as a free agent this winter, suffered a strained flexor muscle in Spring Training that has prevented him from pitching this season. As part of the deal Johnson signed with San Diego in November, the Padres now hold a $4 million club option for 2015 due to a clause that would be triggered were Johnson to start fewer than seven games (he has zero) in 2014.
Sale is a notable example of pitchers that employ the "inverted W" during pitch delivery. The motion, that describes the pitcher's elbows rising in unison, is not in and of itself the cause of injury. According to Chris O'Leary's extensive research on the issue, the inverted W causes a timing problem that adds stress to the player's shoulder and elbow.
This will be Sale's first trip to the disabled list, but it might not be his last. Elbow injuries tend to lead to Tommy John surgery, yet sometimes a pitcher is able to pitch through the early stages of a UCL tear. Their effectiveness often begins to diminish, and the end result is an operation and a year of recovery and rehabilitation.
The Pirates didn't escape the long, ineffectual arm of the MLB head office either; Travis Snider, for his part in the altercation, was suspended for a pair of games, and Bucs catcher Russell Martin was suspended for one.
In an attempt to prove just how ineffectual they really are, Major League Baseball's Ministry of Justice has also handed down a fine for Maldonado's vain attempts at pugilism.
Hundley, 30, has hit .333 with 1 HR and 1 RBI while only appearing in ten games and seeing 21 plate appearances. He could be an interesting option for teams looking for catching help like the Yankees or Nationals, and is likely to be moved to a team that sees him as a primary backup, not a third catcher.
Abreu will attempt to add to his lofty career totals. He's 63 hits away from 2,500 for his career, an accomplishment only 96 players in league history have managed. With one more stolen base, he'll become one of just 74 players to steal 400 bases in a career. He's also 13 homers short of joining Bobby and Barry Bonds, Andre Dawson, Willie Mays, Reggie Sanders, Steve Finley, Carlos Beltran, and Alex Rodriguez in the 300-300 club -- only Bobby and Barry Bonds have 300 home runs and 400 stolen bases.
This incident comes just two weeks after Pineda appeared to have pine tar all over his wrist during a start against Boston at Yankee Stadium, during which the Sox appeared to take notice after the right-hander had removed the substance. Farrell vowed to be more vigilant about Pineda's use of pine tar in the future, ultimately leading to the ejection on Wednesday.
Fellow SB Nation writer and all-around macho hombre Jeff Zimmerman has collected quite the extensive catalog of research, studies, and articles over at his website Baseball Heat Maps. The data is focused exclusively on injuries and, more directly, how they relate to the possibility of measuring whether or not a pitcher may be prone to injury, or prone to becoming injured.
In retrospect, the move looks especially smart when considering the harsh reality of today's MLB market. For example, Homer Bailey is a $100 million man, and the prospect of Jon Lester receiving $80 million over four years is considered an "insult," despite the Sox left-hander posting a 4.28 ERA between 2012 and 2013.
The move wasn't entirely shocking, given Abreu's success and Brown's struggles this season. Abreu posted a .395/.489/.579 slash line at Triple-A prior to his call-up, along with nine RBI and five extra base hits in 38 at-bats, while Brown had a .567 OPS with the big league club. Then, when you add Abreu's April 30 opt-out clause to the equation, the move became essentially a no-brainer.
Yet there are plenty of red flags when it comes to Abreu, who hasn't played in the majors since 2012, a year in which he played in only 100 games. He also hasn't hit above .255 since 2009, and he managed just three homers in 219 at-bats in 2012.
Michael Pineda was tossed from a major league baseball game last night for reasons of tactlessness. He is also likely going to be given a suspension commensurate with the offense of blatantly cheating in a baseball game (typically a missed start). The debate that has followed has not so much centered around the fact that what Pineda did was, in fact, in violation of the written rules of baseball, but has centered more around the soft sticky underbelly of baseball etiquette.
Machado, 2013's American League Gold Glove winner at third base, had surgery on his left knee after an in-game injury last season.
He will be reassessed by the club's medical staff after three games in High-A, Friday through Sunday. The team can keep Machado on assignment for 20 days, but Encina reports that the "Orioles won't likely utilize that entire time."
The Dodgers are being "extra cautious," as Witrado reports, and with good reason. A protracted recovery period is highly preferable to a long-term injury -- especially after Los Angeles handed Kershaw the biggest contract a pitcher has ever received this offseason.
Kershaw pitched the team's opener in Australia nearly a month ago. He struck out seven and got the win in 6⅔ innings.