Adam Wainwright has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in baseball over the last five years, save for a down year in 2012, but reasons for worry continue to persist heading into 2015. Not only did Wainwright have surgery in October to trim a tendon in his pitching elbow (ouch), but the right-hander also left the team's spring training site in Jupiter, Fla., on Wednesday, to head back to St. Louis for a consultation with doctors regarding abdominal pain he has been dealing with since Monday.
While the rhetoric from Wainwright and the Cardinals organization makes the move seem precautionary (teams downplaying spring training injuries is almost as much a right of spring training passage as the 10 million "best shape of his life" stories we'll hear between now and the end of March) it's still worth keeping an eye on.
A healthy Wainwright is a top-10 starting pitcher, but between the elbow injury, and this new abdominal pain, there's more reason than ever to worry about him heading into 2015 (a.k.a. Wainwright is NOT healthy). Add in a drop in strikeout rate and groundball rate last season, and it may make sense to drop Wainwright down your draft boards a bit, at the very least, until we have more clarity on this new injury.
Wainwright is currently the consensus 12th pitcher off the board in NFBC drafts (NFBC ADP: 52.58), ahead of pitchers with no injury issues like Jon Lester, Cole Hamels and Jordan Zimmermann. Wainwright's upside certainly justifies this ADP; however, the injuries, coupled with the heavy workload he has seen over the past five seasons (he's averaged just over 226 innings per season), are a definite cause for concern (major concern?), and may lead to pitchers with fewer question marks (e.g., the three aforementioned strapping young [ish] lads), jumping ahead of him in early drafts.
To be honest, I think the abdominal injury is probably nothing to worry about; however, the offseason elbow surgery and the high mileage on his arm are reason enough for me to drop him down into the mid-teens among starters.
Brandon Moss continues to make progress in his recovery from offseason hip surgery, as the new Indian was able to participate in batting practice for the first time this season.
Denard Span has been declared a "full go" by manager Matt Williams. Span, who is recovering from offseason sports hernia surgery, will likely take it slow at the outset of spring training, but seems to be on schedule to be fully healthy by the start of the regular season.
Everth Cabrera has signed a one-year deal with Baltimore. Cabrera will have the opportunity to compete for a starting spot in either the infield or the outfield.
Cody Asche will most likely be the Phillies' Opening Day third baseman, and will be given the chance to prove his worth.
Shawn Marcum, who missed all of last season, is finally back to full health and hopes to compete for a spot in the Cleveland rotation.
Homer Bailey will miss the beginning of the regular season, as he continues to recover from offseason forearm surgery. Bailey expects to be ready to rejoin the rotation by mid-April.
Josh Hamilton is meeting with MLB officials in New York about a disciplinary issue. While the details of the meeting have not been made public, Hamilton, who is already missing time with a shoulder injury, could be facing a potential suspension.
Hyun-Jin Ryu is suffering from "mid-back tightness" that caused the left-hander to miss workouts on Wednesday.
Michael Brantley was unable to participate in conditioning drills on Tuesday due to a lower-back issue.
Maikel Franco will most likely start the season in the minors.
Andrew McCutchen may get more days off this season according the Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle. This could be a blessing in disguise if it helps keep McCutchen fresh and healthy for the entirety of the season.
Desmond Jennings will most likely not hit leadoff for the Rays at the outset of the season. While this is not a surprise based on Jennings' low OBP the last three seasons, it is still frustrating considering his speed and potential.
Nick Markakis will not participate in the early portion of Atlanta's spring training schedule, as he continues to recover from offseason neck surgery. Markakis has been cleared to increase his workout regimen, and is expected to be ready by Opening Day.