February 27, 2017
Down But Not Out
Hamilton to undergo third knee surgery
Everything seemed to align for Josh Hamilton’s big-league comeback in 2017, but another bout of knee pain has all but eradicated his chances of joining the Rangers in time for Opening Day.
The outfielder felt pain in his left knee during spring training workouts last week and left camp to see Dr. Walt Lowe in Houston. While no new structural damage was found, he elected to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection to reduce the irritation. After several days, no significant improvements were reported and by Sunday, his ongoing discomfort prompted another follow-up exam with Lowe.
Hamilton will likely undergo arthroscopic surgery on Monday, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The expected recovery period is 4-6 weeks, which will jeopardize his campaign to make the major-league roster by the Rangers’ season opener on April 3. No one on the club has ruled out Hamilton’s return to the majors in 2017 just yet, but it’s unlikely that the 35-year-old will take the slow path through the Rangers’ farm system as he rehabs his knee yet again. He signed a minor-league pact with the team in January that will allow for his release if he can’t recover in time to crack the 25-man roster by Opening Day.
Maddon wants Anderson, Montgomery to share spot
Rotation battles may be an integral part of most spring training camps, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon is rounding out his pitching staff using alternative methods this year. MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery, both viable long relief and spot start candidates, will share duties at the back end of the rotation rather than competing for the final spot.
At least, that’s the plan this spring. Maddon doesn’t know if it’ll hold throughout the 2017 season, but in the interests of preserving the rest of his starters’ arms down the stretch, he thinks it could bring out the best in both lefties. It helps that neither pitcher has lasted beyond 200 innings in a single season, though Anderson was held back from a full workload due to back injuries in 2016 rather than any imposed pitching limit.
Maddon added that the split role could also give the club another arm in the bullpen, presumably utilizing one of the two pitchers in long relief while the other one slots into the rotation. Alternatively, the Cubs could stretch their rotation to six full-time starters, an idea the skipper has floated at several points throughout the offseason. With Anderson returning from significant injury and Montgomery coming off of a promising, if abbreviated stint in the bullpen that makes him a PECOTA breakout pick, however, their best bet may be to stick with a hybrid approach.
Four teams still interested in Quintana
White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana is commanding strong interest from the Astros, Pirates, Yankees, and Cardinals this spring, though Bruce Levine of 670 The Score notes that no formal trade offers have been publicized just yet. The club is thought to be seeking multiple prospects in exchange for the 28-year-old, who has brought in a cumulative 16.9 WARP over his last five seasons in Chicago and will remain under team control through 2020.
Earlier this month, it was thought that the White Sox were encouraging rumors of the Rangers’ interest in order to boost the buzz around the left-hander (or, more plausibly, send a message to teams whose interest had already been confirmed). Now, the Rangers appear silent on the trade front and the Cardinals have jumped into the fray.
The rumor conflicts with an earlier report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, however, who points out that while the Cardinals have a hole to fill in their rotation after the loss of pitching prospect Alex Reyes, they’re more likely to examine internal options before turning to the free agent market. The White Sox are approaching a rebuild this season and are not believed to have budged on their asking price for Quintana, requiring a hefty bundle of top prospects in exchange for the ace’s consistent production rate and high value.