Any hopes the San Diego Padres had for getting through the 2014 season without a significant injury have already been crushed. Outfielder Cameron Maybin will miss two to three months with a ruptured biceps tendon in his left arm, suffered while making a diving catch on Sunday. A MRI exam conducted on Monday revealed the injury. Whether or not Maybin needs surgery to repair the injury will affect his recovery timetable.
If there's good news for the Padres, it's that Maybin didn't sustain a major shoulder injury. The MRI exam revealed no damage to the shoulder capsule or rotator cuff. Had that been the case, Maybin could very well have missed the entire 2014 season. (In 2010, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.) The center fielder could return as early as May. But if surgery is necessary or Maybin is slow to heal, he could be out until June or later.
As the San Diego Union-Tribune's Dennis Lin points out, Maybin's injury isn't one typically seen in baseball players. In 1997, Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway suffered a ruptured biceps tendon in his throwing arm, but opted against surgery. He was able to return in three weeks and led the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory. Based on initial reports, it sounds as if Maybin's injury is much more serious.
Maybin appeared in only 14 games last season for San Diego due to a posterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee and an impingement in his right wrist. The wrist injury eventually required surgery that ended Maybin's season in early September.
The Padres have the outfield depth to cover Maybin's absence, likely insuring themselves against his injury history. Will Venable established himself as the team's center fielder last season, hitting .268 with a .796 OPS, 22 home runs, 53 RBI and 22 stolen bases. Additionally, San Diego traded for Seth Smith to at least start against right-handed pitching. Chris Denorfia could be Smith's platoon partner in right field, but can fill in at all three outfield positions.
But had Maybin been able to stay healthy and hit consistently, his speed and defense in the lineup would likely have made the Padres a better team.
At 26 years old (he'll turn 27 in April), Maybin is still young enough to make a future impact for San Diego. Had he followed a typical timeline for development and not been rushed to the majors by the Tigers as a 20-year-old, we could be talking about a young player about to enter his prime years. But this latest injury is obviously a setback for Maybin and only increases concern that he may never become the star he was projected as when he was the No. 10 overall selection in the 2005 draft. (Consider that Maybin was picked one slot ahead of 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen.)
Maybin is signed for the next three seasons at a combined cost of $20 million. The Padres hold a club option for 2017 at $9 million, but can buy him out for $1 million. Maybin has three years to show San Diego he can still be a meaningful part of its team and make the front office want to pick up that option.