5 MLB Injury Storylines to Watch This Week

MLB injury storylines to follow this week, including Shohei Ohtani, Wander Franco and Bobby Witt Jr.
MLB injury storylines to follow this week, including Shohei Ohtani, Wander Franco and Bobby Witt Jr. / Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

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Will Shohei Ohtani Make His Next Start?

Shohei Ohtani was pulled in the ninth inning of Sunday’s win over the Chicago White Sox with right groin tightness. 

Ohtani said he is expecting to be back in the lineup as the designated hitter on Monday, but Joe Maddon said he’s unsure of when he will return or if he will make his next start, which will likely come on Wednesday.

Pitching right-handed with a right groin injury is difficult, our ProBaseballDocs say, and the injury appears to be more than simple tightness. 

If he was only a pitcher we would expect him to head to the 10-day IL. Because of his DH ability, he could hit through it as he is left-handed at the plate, although running would risk a more severe strain.

Mike Clevinger Returning Tuesday

San Diego Padres righty Mike Clevinger is scheduled to make his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery in late 2020 this Tuesday against the Guardians.

Clevinger, who only made four starts for the Padres before going under the knife, was shut down before the season after feeling right knee soreness during spring training. The 31-year-old has made three minor league starts in preparation for his return, posting a 2.08 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 8.2 IP.

Clevinger is one of the few starting pitchers to undergo two Tommy John procedures and was stellar between the two, notching a 3.19 ERA, 1.186 WHIP, and 603 strikeouts in 542.1 IP between 2016 and 2020.

Young Stars Out Sunday

Tampa Bay Rays 21-year-old shortstop Wander Franco was a late scratch Sunday with right hamstring soreness. Manager Kevin Cash said that it had to do somewhat with Franco’s adjustment to the rigors of MLB and the constant switching between turf and grass. Cash expects Franco back in the lineup Monday.

Kansas City Royals infielder Bobby Witt Jr. suffered a right wrist contusion when he was hit by a pitch Saturday night and was sidelined on Sunday. 

X-rays on his wrist came back negative, but he was still dealing with discomfort ahead of Sunday’s game against the New York Yankees that was preventing him from finishing his swing, according to manager Mike Matheney. He, like Franco, is expected to play on Monday, but Kansas City will likely be ultra-cautious with their 21-year-old. 

Ronald Acuña Jr. Back To The Braves

Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. made his much-awaited comeback from a torn ACL on Thursday. 

The 24-year-old unexpectedly played in right field in his first game back and moved to DH on Saturday and Sunday, collecting two hits, one RBI, and two stolen bases in 13 at-bats.

The two-time All-Star will likely continue to take scheduled rest days in between starts and swap between fielding and designated-hitting while he works his way back from the July 2021 ligament tear. 

The Braves, 10-13, will head to New York for a four-game series with the Mets that begins Monday.

Injury Bug Bites Giants

The San Francisco Giants continue to defy expectations, starting the season 14-8 behind an NL-high 109 runs despite missing a growing number of key players.

Recently outfielder Joc Pederson and starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani joined the list with a groin strain and ankle inflammation, respectively. 

They joined Evan Longoria, Steven Duggar, LaMonte Wade Jr., and Tommy La Stella. Wade is expected to return to the lineup this week, while Longoria and La Stella are likely to begin rehab assignments as they work back from spring training injuries. 

San Francisco is also taking a hit from COVID-19 positive tests, as outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, first baseman Brandon Belt, and relievers Dominic Leone and Zack Littell were all placed on the reserve list after testing positive last week. Each will need to post multiple negative PCR tests before returning to the team.

The Giants are set to take on the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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