Every Major League Baseball team tiptoes through Spring Training hoping, above all else, to avoid injuries to key contributors. And with Opening Day less than a week away, just about everyone not named the Mets seemed to have accomplished that ever-important goal, until…
Madison Bumgarner broke his hand on a line drive back up the box Friday, Chris Sale got drilled in the hip on a similar play Saturday and Greg Bird was scratched from the Yankees lineup Saturday with soreness in the same foot that gave him problems for much of last season. Within 24 hours, three teams watched notable players go down.
Now, it’s ultimately misleading to lump those three injuries together. Bumgarner will reportedly miss six-to-eight weeks, while Sale hopes to be ready for his Opening-Day start and Bird’s issue remains a mystery. And Bird is obviously not as integral a player as Bumgarner or Sale. The Giants would happily trade places with the Red Sox or Yankees.
— Andrew Tashian (@Tashville401) March 24, 2018
But what these injuries have in common is that they remind us just how quickly things can change for teams that enter the season with high expectations. The Giants know this as well as anyone, having fallen to last place in 2017 thanks in part to a Bumgarner injury. San Francisco probably needed just about everything to go right to make the playoffs this coming season, and already something has gone very wrong. The Red Sox and their fans, meanwhile, spent several hours Saturday fretting that a serious injury to Sale would cost them ground in what promises to be a tight race with the Yankees. And although losing Bird isn’t quite crippling to the Yankees, it will test their vaunted depth right away. Even the best young teams can be undone with a few bad breaks.
Spring Training games will wrap up in just a few days, at which point healthy teams will breathe a sigh of release. From then on, at least any injuries will come in games that count.