Earlier this week, Grant Brisbee of Baseball Nation reacted to various injuries on the Texas Rangers by checking out which teams were the most snakebitten in the 2014 Spring Training campaign. While the Rangers and Atlanta Braves are struggling with major injuries, the Miami Marlins have been able to miss the injury situation almost entirely.
Since publishing, the Marlins do have one injury involving an expected starter. Rafael Furcal will miss Opening Day and at least the first five games of the regular season with a hamstring injury. But other than his contributions, the Fish have been among the most healthy teams this Spring Training. It is worth reviewing some of the players on the roster and how their early success avoiding injury bodes for them going forward.
This seems like the first in a likely long line of injuries for Furcal, who is expected to miss around 200 plate appearances as he usually does per season. The hamstring injury was never considered severe, but Furcal was unable to work through it and the team eventually erred on the side of caution. The problem is that these sorts of nagging injuries are likely to cost Furcal significant time on the field and the Marlins significant money. The Fish knew his checkered injury history heading into the season, but the clubs still guaranteed him $3.5 million and agreed to playing time incentives on top of that.
Lucas would have been one of the benefactors of Furcal's injury, except that he too was hurt in yesterday's game versus the St. Louis Cardinals. Lucas was hit by a pitch on the hand and suffered a non-displaced hand fracture that should put him on the disabled list right next to Furcal.
The benefit trickles down to the next two second basemen / middle infielders in the Marlins' system, anointed starter Derek Dietrich and Donovan Solano, who was just demoted to Triple-A despite having played well in Spring Training this season. Both guys will return to the majors and stick, as they did last season, as a result of these injuries. This actually fulfills what the Marlins should have done at second base to begin with, as neither Dietrich nor Solano are significantly better or worse than Furcal and come much cheaper.
The news with Stanton is that he did not get hurt, which is important for a player trying to fight against the "injury-prone" label. The last few years, Stanton has come out of Spring Training nursing some minor aches and pains that may or may not have held him back in April. This time around he played through all of Spring Training and had a healthy and successful month full of monstrous home runs.
This is only a good sign for the Fish, who need Stanton to build up value in order to eventually trade him for good return. Health is one of the two things that Stanton needs to prove in 2014, and this start is encouraging.
Fernandez is in the same health boat as Stanton despite the fact that he has yet to suffer a significant injury during his professional career. Last year, the team was very careful and capped his workload early and at the end of the season in order to avoid the sort of career-threatening injuries that so commonly afflict pitchers. So far, Fernandez has not shown any ailments on the field.
The difference between Stanton and Fernandez is that, if Stanton strings together a healthy season, he is likely to be at less risk for further injury next season. On the other hand, the fragility of pitchers is always a concern, even years into a player's career. The Marlins will monitor how Fernandez responds to stretching out to 200 innings, with the hopes that nothing bad happens to his golden elbow and shoulder. A successful Spring Training still leaves everyone in a cautious state when it comes to young ace pitching.
Nathan Eovaldi / Henderson Alvarez
Both had decent Spring Trainings and remained healthy, and that is a plus after both missed around half the season with shoulder injuries. As promising as Eovaldi appeared last year, and as good as Alvarez was in his second half stint, the hope is that Miami has more to look forward to because these two will have healthy campaigns.