Arizona Diamondbacks fans were greeted this morning by a wave of bad news. As if watching their team mired in a full season of losing was not enough the baseball Gods were piling onto their woes.
Right fielder Justin Upton left the team over the weekend to travel to Alabama to meet with noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews regarding his left shoulder problems.
Upton injured his shoulder during an at bat in early September while swinging at a ball out of the strike zone. The shoulder irritation has been bad enough that it has limited Upton to appearing in just four games this month.
The evaluation included an MRI on the shoulder to determine if surgery would be required. Early indications are that Upton’s shoulder is in no worse shape than it was in 2006 when the outfielder was last seen.
This is the good news as it means rest and strength conditioning may be enough to overcome the problems Upton is facing. Of course this means he is likely done for the remainder of this season.
Manager Kirk Gibson has expressed concerns over Upton’s health suggesting a new off-season training regime may be in order to ensure the outfielder is able to play in more games than he has so far in his young career.
Upton’s older brother BJ, an outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays, has had similar injury problems and underwent shoulder surgery last season on his non-throwing arm. This makes one wonder whether these injuries are genetic or a result in similar off-season strength programs the brothers use.
Losing your best hitter for the remainder of the season is bad enough but the Diamondbacks also announced they are shutting down starting pitcher Daniel Hudson for the season.
Hudson has been amazing since coming to the Diamondbacks at the July 31 trade deadline. He has gone 7-1 with an ERA of just 1.69 during that time.
In his last start against the Los Angeles Dodgers Hudson strained the middle finger on his right hand. Rather than allow him to aggravate the injury the Diamondbacks chose to shut down the right-hander.
Given his success since joining the Diamondbacks caution must be exercised to make sure Hudson is ready for next season. This decision opens a hole in the starting rotation.
Left-hander Zach Kroenke will make Hudson’s start on Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. It will be Kroenke’s first major league start and his third appearance since being called up earlier this month.
The Diamondbacks are also likely to rest third baseman Mark Reynolds for the final five games after he aggravated his injured thumb during the last home stand.
These injuries do have one benefit. It will allow the Diamondbacks and their new General Manager Kevin Towers to observe some of the younger players on the roster to determine how they may fit into the teams plans for next year and beyond.