After seeing players drop like flies at the beginning of Spring Training, Miami Marlins fans, coaches and staff were relieved to see key stars return to the field this week. Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich saw regular action, and A.J. Ramos made his debut Wednesday.
The return of Ramos will certainly be a lift for the bullpen, especially after the loss of Carter Capps to season ending Tommy John surgery. Despite losing Capps, Don Mattingly expressed confidence in the bullpen during an interview with The Sun Sentinel:
"I think it is an opportunity for guys. We want to make sure we've got a number of guys we feel have a chance... to be quality back end guys. They may be guys two years from now that everybody looks at as the best in the game. Right now, [people] may not quite know their names. But we got some guys with power arms."
Marlins fans will hope Mattingly is right, as a strong bullpen will be key to regular season success.
Below are a few injury updates:
Ramos made his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday against the Washington Nationals after missing the beginning of Spring Training with a minor right calf strain. Apparently, he has wanted to get back on the field for some time - so much so that the staff had to separate Ramos from the rest of the team to protect him from re-aggravating his right calf injury. Here is a quote from Ramos as he describes his competitive nature and desire to get back on the field courtesy of Craig Davis from The Sun Sentinel:
"I find myself racing people when they're eating. I'm trying to finish my food before they finish. And when I got to run with some of the guys, I was trying to catch them and beat them. That's why at first they had me run separately, because I'm always trying to compete."
It is hard not to love the competitive attitude, but it is important the Marlins medical staff reigns Ramos in to avoid re-injury. Running all out on a recently injured calf could cause him to suffer a significant setback. Luckily, he appears healthy and pitched a perfect ninth inning on Wednesday.
For what it is worth, Ramos also gave his thoughts on Capps' injury:
"We've got some guys who are going to make up for Carter. Obviously, it's a lot easier to have someone like that in the bullpen. But we've got guys that can do the job, and I feel confident."
Yelich has returned to play in four of six contests over the past week after sitting out a couple of days with minor back pain. While his recurrent back issues remain a concern, it appears Yelich is fine barring an unforeseen setback.
Stanton returned to the lineup Sunday after missing significant time with right knee soreness. This is concerning, as he had arthroscopic surgery on the same knee to remove bone and cartilage fragments in 2012. Furthermore, in an interview with ESPN, Stanton gave a less than convincing report on his health:
"I felt relatively good. I was just getting in the swing of things again. Any time you can get in there and work on that is good."
Stanton saying he feels "relatively good" is not what I would call "inspiring." However, the good news is that he played in right field for five innings on Sunday despite originally being scheduled to DH.
Mattingly shared optimism on Stanton's situation:
"The fact that he was able to do everything, he looked like he was running pretty good. If he can keep going, there's no question he'll be ready to go [Opening Day]."
Stanton's significant playing time during the beginning of this week would suggest he is definitely feeling "relatively good." Let's hope his knee soreness was only a minor bump in the road.
Not bad. As we have discussed, minor injuries are not necessarily a concern during Spring Training. Often, players are held out from injuries they would normally play through in the regular season. The return of Ramos, Yelich and Stanton is excellent news.
The only eyebrow raising report this week was Ramos' apparent disregard for his own safety. While the medical staff is key to keeping a team healthy, individual players must also put in an effort to facilitate their own recovery. There will be plenty of time for Ramos to run "all out" in the future. The smart thing for him to do now is to take it slow. Being competitive is a good thing, but disregarding your own health is not.