Although it’s not directly related to injury, among the biggest news of the week was a fluke illness which ran rampant through the Dodgers‘ clubhouse, affecting more than 25 players, coaches and trainers.
At one point, the team’s medical staff set up several air purifiers to reduce the spread of germs. and some players, including righty swing man Brock Stewart. were even seen wearing disposable surgical masks.
The origin was never pinpointed, but there were some players who managed to avoid the bug completely. Outfielder Andrew Toles was one of those players, and had this to say about the secret of staying healthy:
“Yeah, you got to live alone. Can’t be bunking with other dudes.”
Toles is believed to be fully on schedule with his recovery from an ACL tear he suffered early last season.
Apparently the worst is over, though, as skipper Dave Roberts has more players available to play with each passing day.
Perhaps the largest blow of spring camp thus far occurred on Friday when veteran righty Tom Koehler was forced to leave the contest against the White Sox with shoulder soreness. Shoulder problems are not new for Koehler, who spent four weeks on the disabled list last year with shoulder bursitis while he was a starter with the Marlins. Results of an MRI Friday evening revealed a mild anterior capsule strain, and at this point, trainers have no idea regarding a ballpark date for a return.
“Could be weeks, could be months,” Koehler said on Saturday morning.
Shortstop Corey Seager still isn’t quite ready to appear in the field, but Roberts still thinks he has enough time to be ready for the start of the season. Seager was progressing nicely through his rehabilitative program for his elbow, but the clubhouse bug brought that to a halt when he was on the shelf for a few days. Still, the Dodgers estimate that Seager will only need seven or eight Cactus League games in the field to be ready defensively for the start of the season. He resumed his throwing program on Friday.
Rookie righty pitcher Walker Buehler is being eased into throwing slowly, as he apparently tweaked his back while training in January. The issue isn’t thought to be anything overly serious, yet the Dodgers are playing it safe with the youngster. He threw a successful bullpen early in the week and is progressing nicely while pitching to live hitters. His Cactus League debut shouldn’t be too far away.
Austin Barnes has been in the lineup lately as the designated hitter as he recovers from elbow discomfort, but it sounds like he could get the nod behind the dish at some point in the coming days. Veteran Yasmani Grandal, who is expected to open the year on the strong side of a platoon, is 0-for-12 at the plate thus far in Cactus League play. Kyle Farmer got the nod as the starting catcher against the Diamondbacks on Saturday.
Aside from the aforementioned clubhouse illness, star closer Kenley Jansen says he’s fine; however, he’s still being eased into game action like a number of other Los Angeles relievers. The 30-year-old has been throwing minimal live batting practice, but is expected to make his first Cactus League appearance March 9 against the Royals.