Pitching Injuries Beginning to Pile Up in Dodgers Camp

After a relatively uneventful first month of camp, health-wise, all of a sudden there’s a variety of bumps and bruises hitting the pitching staff all at once. Going down the list…

** Zack Greinke‘s right elbow is giving him trouble.

This is obviously the biggest concern, and it might cause him to miss his scheduled start tomorrow against the Brewers. Ken Gurnick has more:

Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke is questionable for his scheduled start Monday because of continued elbow discomfort. Greinke missed a bullpen session nine days ago because of elbow stiffness, missed a start four days ago because of the flu, then threw an impressive bullpen session on Friday.

But the discomfort in the back of his elbow has persisted and — with seven other starters in the current rotation — club officials are considering holding him out for precautionary reasons. Doctors have ruled out serious injuries such as ligament damage. Greinke has told the club he’s dealt with similar elbow issues in the past that never kept him from missing a start.

For the moment, I think we’re all unsure what to make of this. Greinke’s always been a model of health, with his only trip to the disabled list for a physical problem coming as a result of his infamous basketball accident in 2011. The fact that his Friday bullpen session was “impressive” and that Greinke claims to have deal with this before seem to be encouraging, I suppose. At this point, it’s difficult to draw the line between an actual problem and the appropriate amount of spring caution, though it’s not great that the season starts in three weeks and Greinke’s pitched just twice.

** Chad Billingsley has a sore groin…

From the same Gurnick piece, Billingsley has a sore muscle on his right side, which is great if only in that we’re talking about Billingsley’s health in March and it’s not due to his ticking time bomb of an elbow. He’s expected to start on Wednesday (in a minor league game, since the Dodgers are off that day), and I don’t imagine this is anything all that serious.

92topps_javyguerra** ..and so does Javy Guerra.

The general thought is that this is why he pitched poorly in a minor league game against the Reds on Saturday. This is also not thought to be serious, but Guerra really, really can’t afford any missed time or poor performances, injury-related or not. As the days go on without any movement to resolve the starting pitching glut, it’s becoming more and more likely that the Dodgers will have to start the season with not one but two (at least) extra starters in the bullpen. If that’s the case, and considering that Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, Ronald Belisario, & J.P Howell are all but guaranteed to be there, that’s six bullpen spots spoken for already. For pitchers with options remaining like Guerra, Paco Rodriguez, & Shawn Tolleson, it might be even more difficult to win that last job than non-roster guys like Kevin Gregg, Mark Lowe, & Peter Moylan — even if they’re more deserving — because Ned Colletti might prefer to keep the optionable types on the farm rather than lose the NRIs to any opt-out ability.

** Matt Palmer doesn’t have such worries, because he’s going to miss 6-8 weeks due to knee surgery. 

Palmer apparently injured his left meniscus while simply walking, though Don Mattingly pointed out that if that was the case, it was likely to go on him at some point anyway. Palmer had no chance to make the team in the first place and looked awful in camp (despite a 3.60 ERA, because so many runs were unearned), so this doesn’t affect the big club that much. Where it might have an impact is in Albuquerque, where Palmer was expected to join Stephen Fife, Fabio Castro, and perhaps Matt Magill in the rotation. That was already an incredibly thin group, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Isotopes plan to staff that out until Palmer is ready in May.