Recent MLB Player News

Angels' Griffin Canning (elbow) diagnosed with UCL damage

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Griffin Canning has chronic changes to the UCL as well as acute joint irritation in his right elbow.

What It Means:

Canning will continue to be further evaluated over the next few days, but Tommy John surgery could be on the table. The 23-year-old right-hander apparently felt discomfort after making his Cactus League debut on Wednesday.

Canning posted a 4.58 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with 96 strikeouts and 30 walks over his first 90 1/3 major league innings in 2019.

Astros' Justin Verlander to play on Tuesday

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (groin) is on track to play on Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

What It Means:

Verlander only missed one start since aggravating his groin earlier this week. A start on Tuesday would be a strong indicator that he will be ready for the start of the 2020 season.

Verlander won the Cy Young award in 2019, throwing 300 strikeouts in 223 innings pitched during the season. If healthy, he'll be one of the top pitchers in the league again for 2020.

Astros' Lance McCullers (elbow) making spring debut this weekend

Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (elbow) is set to make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

What It Means:

McCullers missed the entire 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. The 26-year-old right-hander should be good to go for the start of the regular season.

McCullers recorded a 4.25 ERA in 2017 and a 3.86 ERA in 2018 after posting a 3.22 ERA in each of his first two major league seasons.

Braves' Mike Soroka (groin) making debut Friday

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka (groin) is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday against the New York Yankees.

What It Means:

Soroka missed a turn in the spring rotation after tweaking his groin in batting practice last week. The 22-year-old right-hander should be fine for the start of the regular season.

Soroka recorded a 2.68 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 174 2/3 innings last season. He went 13-4 in 29 starts.

Yankees' James Paxton (back) could throw next week

New York Yankees pitcher James Paxton (back) could resume throwing around March 5.

What It Means:

Paxton underwent surgery to remove a cyst from his spine on February 5. He's making progress and should be able to make his debut by the beginning of May.

Paxton went 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts last season.

Chris Sale (elbow, illness) starting season on Red Sox IL

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (elbow, illness) will open the 2020 season on the injured list, manager Ron Roenicke said Thursday morning.

What It Means:

Sale threw a successful bullpen session on Wednesday, but he's still behind schedule due to a case of pneumonia. The positive takeaway is that his elbow isn't a major concern. Sale should be ready by mid-April.

Sale recorded a 4.40 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 218 strikeouts and 37 walks across 147 1/3 innings last season. He went 6-11 in 25 starts.

Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton (calf) could miss start of season

New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is in danger of missing the beginning of the 2020 season, according to manager Aaron Boone.

What It Means:

"He will be down a bit," Boone said of Stanton. The 2017 National League MVP is coming off a 2019 in which he played just 18 regular season games, and while his Grade 1 calf strain doesn't seem to severe at the moment, it's still a worrisome sign nonetheless. If he is to miss time, Clint Frazier could be in line for more at-bats to start the year.

In 1,162 career games, Stanton has hit to a .268/.358/.547 slash line with 308 home runs and 785 RBI.

Astros' Justin Verlander (groin) scratched Thursday

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander has been scratched from his scheduled Grapefruit League start on Thursday due to groin discomfort.

What It Means:

Tigers manager Dusty Baker said Verlander will throw a simulated game on Thursday instead. The 2019 American League Cy Young Award should be fine for Opening Day.

Verlander recorded a 2.58 ERA and 0.80 WHIP with 300 strikeouts and 42 walks over 223 innings last season. He went 21-6 in 34 starts.

Paul Goldschmidt (elbow) on first Wednesday for Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals Paul Goldschmidt (elbow) is starting at first base in Wednesday's Grapefruit League game against the Miami Marlins.

What It Means:

Goldschmidt had been limited to DH duties due to some mild right elbow soreness. The 29-year-old's batting average dipped from .290 in 2017 to .260 last season.

Goldschmidt maintained solid power numbers, with 34 home runs and 97 RBI in 682 plate appearances.

Braves' Julio Teheran (hamstring) to debut by Monday

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (hamstring) is aiming to make his Cactus League debut on Sunday or Monday.

What It Means:

Teheran was scratched from his scheduled Cactus League start on Wednesday due to left hamstring tightness, but an MRI came back negative, per general manager Billy Eppler. The 29-year-old right-hander is expected to start for the Braves on Opening Day.

Teheran recorded a 3.81 ERA and 1.32 WHIP with 162 strikeouts and 83 walks across 174 2/3 innings last season. He went 10-11 in 33 starts last season.

Red Sox's Chris Sale (elbow, illness) throws BP session

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (elbow, illness) threw a successful bullpen session Wednesday.

What It Means:

Sale will go through live batting practice on Saturday and then play in a Grapefruit League game after that. He should be fine for the start of the season. The left-hander was shut down last August due to elbow issues and suffered from pneumonia to begin the spring.

Sale recorded a 4.40 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 218 strikeouts and 37 walks across 147 1/3 innings last season. He went 6-11 in 25 starts.

Royals' Salvador Perez (elbow) to play catcher Thursday

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (elbow) is expected to make his first Cactus League start at catcher on Thursday.

What It Means:

Perez is expected to be ready for Opening Day after missing all of 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. His batting average dipped from .268 in 2017 to .235 in 2018.

Despite the regression in batting average, Perez hit exactly 27 homers and 80 RBI in each of his last two seasons.

Mets' J.D. Davis' shoulder MRI negative

New York Mets outfielder J.D. Davis' MRI on his left shoulder showed "no new structural damage," per Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

What It Means:

Davis injured his shoulder after diving for a grounder on Tuesday in a Grapefruit League game. He should be fine for Opening Day.

Davis slashed .307/.369/.527 with 22 home runs, 57 RBI, and 65 runs scored in his first full season in the bigs last year.

Freddie Freeman (elbow) back for Braves next week

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (elbow) is expected to return to Grapefruit League action next week.

What It Means:

Freeman was scratched from Grapefruit League action on Tuesday due to inflammation in his surgically-repaired right elbow. He should be fine for Opening Day.

Freeman slashed .295/.389/.549 across 692 plate appearances last season. He set career-bests with 38 home runs, 121 RBI, and 113 runs scored.

Dodgers' Joc Pederson (hip, side) still unable to hit

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson (hip, side) has not yet been cleared to resume hitting.

What It Means:

Pederson is dealing with a strain in his right side that "has turned out to be more persistent than he originally thought," tweets MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. A.J. Pollock could see a boost to start the year if Pederson isn't ready for Opening Day.

Pederson set career-bests across the board last season with 36 home runs, 74 RBI, and 83 runs scored. His .249 batting average and .876 OPS also set personal-bests.

Cashman: Yankees recommend Tommy John surgery for Luis Severino (elbow)

New York Yankees pitcher Luis Severino (elbow) has been recommended for Tommy John surgery after experiencing soreness during bullpen sessions.

What It Means:

Severino's 2020 season is likely over after further tests revealed the 26-year old pitcher needs Tommy John surgery.

Jordan Montgomery should have an opportunity this spring training to replace Severino's spot in the Yankees' rotation.

Julio Urias will start 2020 season in Dodgers' rotation

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias will start the 2020 regular season in the rotation.

What It Means:

According to manager Dave Roberts, Urias will be a starting pitcher after recently shifting between bullpen and rotation duties. The talented left-hander should have a great opportunity to become a starter after the Dodgers lost three pitchers from their rotation in the offseason.

In 79.2 innings pitched last season, Urias produced a 2.49 ERA and 85 strikeouts.

Seattle's Mitch Haniger (back) out at least another month

Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger (back) remains sidelined after undergoing microdiscectomy surgery.

What It Means:

Haniger will not participate in lifting or other activities for a month after his surgery. According to Johns, the Seattle outfielder "fully expects to return this season" despite an unknown return timeline.

Expect Jake Fraley to see more playing time in the outfield while Haniger is out.

Source: Greg Johns

Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. likely to bat cleanup in 2020

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is expected to hit in the cleanup spot to start the 2020 regular season.

What It Means:

According to manager Charlie Montoyo, Guerrero is likely to bat fourth with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hitting in front of him because the Jays' third baseman "likes seeing how teams pitch Gurriel" and "thinks they attack him similarly". Expect a big season from the 20-year old after an overall promising rookie year.

In 464 at-bats last season, Guerrero Jr. produced a .272 average with 15 home runs and 69 RBI.

Source: Shi Davidi

Ross: Cubs 'committed' to Kris Bryant as leadoff hitter in 2020

Chicago Cubs third baseman / outfield Kris Bryant will bat in the leadoff spot in 2020.

What It Means:

According to manager David Ross, the Cubs are "committed" to Bryant being their leadoff man in 2020. A move up Chicago's batting order should boost Bryant's production after rebounding with a strong season in 2019.

In 543 at-bats last season, Bryant produced a .282 average with 31 home runs and 77 RBI.

Yankees' Aaron Judge (shoulder) 'dealing with crankiness and soreness'

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge (shoulder) has been experiencing soreness "for a couple weeks".

What It Means:

Judge will not hit or participate in batting practice after dealing with right shoulder soreness. Expect the Yankees to be cautious with their star slugger despite labeling his discomfort as "minor".

In 378 at-bats last season, Judge produced a .272 average with 27 home runs and 55 RBI.

Source: Bryan Hoch

Cardinals' Miles Mikolas (forearm) shut down 3-4 weeks

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas (forearm) has received a platelet-rich plasma injection.

What It Means:

Mikolas will be shut down for three-to-four weeks while tending to some soreness in his flexor tendon. The 31-year-old right-hander is highly unlikely to be ready for the start of the season. That could open up a spot for Kwang-Hyun Kim in the Cardinals' rotation. Daniel Ponce de Leon, John Gant, Ryan Helsley, and Alex Reyes are also in the mix for a starting spot.

Mikolas went 9-14 with a 4.16 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 32 starts for the Cardinals last season. He recorded 144 strikeouts and 32 walks over 184 innings.

Brewers reportedly agree to deal with Brock Holt on Monday

The Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly signed utility-man Brock Holt on Monday.

What It Means:

According to The Athletic, Holt will become a Brewer after seven seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Expect the 31-year old to see playing time as a utility-man this season.

In 259 at-bats in 2019, Holt produced a .297 average with 3 home runs and 31 RBI.

Houston's Francis Martes suspended 162 games for second drug policy violation

Houston Astros pitcher Francis Martes is suspended 162 games without pay after violating Major League Baseball's drug policy.

What It Means:

This suspension marks the second time Martes has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The 24-year old will need to sit out an entire year before possibly returning to Major League Baseball.

In 54.1 career innings pitched, Martes produced a 5.80 ERA and 69 strikeouts.

Milwaukee's Avisail Garcia and Ryan Braun to 'share time in right'

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Avisail Garcia will play in right field this season.

What It Means:

According to manager Craig Counsell, Garcia will split time in right field with Ryan Braun while Christian Yelich shifts to left.

Garcia should have a spot in the middle of Milwaukee's lineup after producing a career-high 20 home runs in 2019.

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