A trio of NL pennant hopefuls are dealing with injuries to some pretty important players.
St. Louis Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright (groin) and Atlanta Braves closer Raisel Iglesias (inflamed shoulder) will begin the season on the injured list.
And there might be more cause for concern with Philadelphia first baseman Rhys Hoskins, who hurt his left knee Thursday in a spring training game while fielding a grounder. He was carted off and will undergo further evaluation.
Hoskins, who turned 30 last week, hit six homers in Philadelphia’s playoff run last season. The Phillies lost to the Houston Astros in the World Series.
Philadelphia is already without DH and two-time NL MVP Bryce Harper for at least two months as he recovers from offseason elbow surgery.
Wainwright was in line for his seventh opening day start in what's slated to be his final season. Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol told reporters Thursday before St. Louis' spring training game against the New York Yankees that Wainwright could miss several weeks.
The 41-year-old apparently strained his groin in a workout before Team USA lost to Japan 3-2 in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday. Wainwright went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA over eight innings to help the U.S. reach the final.
"We’ll continue to evaluate over the next few days but no timetable at the moment,” Marmol said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There is a spot in the rotation now open, and we’re going to have to sit down and make sure that we’re not missing anything that goes into that.”
With Iglesias, the Braves said an MRI showed the right-hander has “low-grade” inflammation and will not throw for seven days. Iglesias was expected to move into the closer’s role after Kenley Jansen signed with the Boston Red Sox. Iglesias, 33, had a combined 17 saves last season for the Los Angeles Angels and Atlanta.
WECOME BACK, PART I
The Cardinals welcomed back to camp Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, who played for Team USA, along with Lars Nootbaar, an outfielder for Team Japan. The Cardinals posted a picture of them stretching with the caption: “What do you think they are talking about!?”
Goldschmidt and Nootbaar were in the starting lineup Thursday.
WELCOME BACK, PART II
Yu Darvish returned to the San Diego Padres after helping Team Japan to a WBC title. The right-hander was in Japan for the early stages of the tournament and then in Florida for the final rounds.
Darvish started one game and came out of the bullpen twice in the WBC. He also was part of the 2009 squad that won the championship.
He said he was “very appreciative” of the Padres letting him spend his preparation time with the Japanese team.
“They trusted me going there,” he said through an interpreter Thursday in Peoria, Arizona. ”(It was) a bit tough going there but the beautiful thing about that was that you get to spend time with those young up-and-coming pitchers back in Japan who are very talented and get to know them and get to be friends with them, too. It was a very meaningful time.”
Next step, stretching out his arm. He’s not used to coming out of the bullpen: Of his 242 major league appearances on the mound, all have been starts.
“Team Japan was trying to win the whole thing. I wasn’t able to build up as I would in a regular spring training,” Darvish said. “I can’t overthink this. We’ll see how I feel as we move along. Try to get back to what I usually do.”
Darvish said he would talk with manager Bob Melvin about when he would be pitching. Darvish is looking to go “about four innings” in any tune-up appearance ahead of the regular season, which begins March 30 when the Padres host Colorado.
Bryan Cranston (you know, Walter White, from “Breaking Bad”) wants to “get that shift … outta here!”
The actor appeared in an ad for Major League Baseball in which he watched baseball clips and touted how the game has evolved with the new rule changes.
“This is the game we all want to see,” Cranston said in the commercial.
The pitch clock has sped things up, with spring training games averaging 26 minutes less than last spring. It’s sped things up on the base paths, too, with stolen base attempts going from 1.6 per game in spring training games last season to 2.4 this spring.
AP Sports Writer Charles Odum and AP Freelance Writer Jack Thompson contributed to this report. ___
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