With Opening Day just around the corner, fans hope the Miami Marlins will enter the 2016 season healthy. Due to a lack of depth, the Fish must keep key players on the field if they hope to succeed. Aside from the loss of Carter Capps to season ending UCL reconstruction, the Marlins have avoided other major injuries. However, gloom may be on the horizon as top prospect Tyler Kolek has been experiencing soreness in his right elbow.
Below are updates on specific players' injury situations:
Kolek's future remains in question. After experiencing continued discomfort in his right elbow, the hard throwing righty underwent an MRI on Friday. The results were inconclusive, however, and Kolek will seek a third opinion at a time to be determined. This is concerning news for the Marlins' top prospect, as his search for multiple medical opinions indicates the injury may be serious or complex.
If the injury is serious, this is a disappointing setback for a player who was gaining confidence going into 2016. In a recent interview with MLBPipeline.com's Jonathan Mayo, Kolek showed optimism for the upcoming year due to his work with Jim Benedict and the new development personnel:
"They have helped me 100 percent. Right now, I feel way better this time than last year.... I can throw longer and harder. At first, it was a little difficult, not knowing how hard you're throwing. I'm throwing it easy, and it feels good, but I don't know what it's going to be. I know the big thing is velocity doesn't matter, but I want to know how hard I'm throwing. After my first outing, I realized it really is easier to do this. I'm all bought in now."
Research has shown that hard-throwing MLB pitchers are more susceptible to UCL damage. Teaching Kolek to "throw the ball easy" is most likely an attempt to improve his mechanics, as he has lacked control in the past. However, this may also improve Kolek's health outlook long-term. The Marlins hope to send Kolek to either Class A Advanced Jupiter or Class A Greensboro if he is healthy.
Joe Frisaro reported that Koehler had been struck below the right elbow by a come-backer on Monday:
The #Marlins updated Tom Koehler status. struck below right elbow, not hand, by comebacker. appear to be alright. good news— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) March 28, 2016
However, as stated in the tweet, Koehler is fine. He is set to be the number four starter in the Marlins rotation this season.
Marcell Ozuna had a small injury scare this past week:
Marcell Ozuna scratched due to sore right ankle. #Marlins he jammed ankle sliding into base Tuesday.— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) March 23, 2016
Ozuna returned to the lineup two days later on Thursday, so the injury does not appear to be serious. He is having an excellent spring batting 341/.391/.634. Ozuna is hoping to bounce back from a disappointing 2015 season.
Kolek's situation is one to keep an eye on. Having UCL reconstruction this early in his career could be a major setback. However, it is definitely not a death sentence (example: Jacob DeGrom). Hopefully with some rehab and careful monitoring Kolek will be able to continue to pitch this season.
The Marlins are set to begin the regular season fairly healthy. However, questions still linger. Earlier in Spring Training both Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton suffered from injuries they had in the past. Will these injuries resurface once both players are playing on the regular season schedule? Last season, the Marlins were decimated by injuries and struggled to get on track. They will need to be healthy this year if they hope to compete.