Today’s spring training game with the Giants was cancelled today due to inclement weather. The articles I planned to write and publish last night were cancelled due to the outbreak of a poker game. To top it all off three members of the Royals organization have had their 2010 development cancelled or delayed thanks to injury.
For the record I won my poker game but the recent news is not so rosy for the Kansas City Royals. Sure they’ve won two in a row behind excellent pitching from Zack Greinke, Gil Meche, and Aaron Crow, among others, but now Alex Gordon has been lost for 3-4 weeks thanks to a broken thumb. It seems like the long-awaited breakout season will have to wait a while longer as Alex will likely open the 2010 season on the DL.
Jeff Parker (Royally Speaking) published a post today which references Gordon’s injury history. Some guys simply can’t stay healthy. If Alex isn’t already in that group he is getting awfully close to the dreaded label of being injury prone. It’s pretty tough to break out and live up to expectations when you can’t stay on the field. That said, Jeff is absolutely spot on that the Royals should give Alex ample time to heal before putting him back into the lineup.
The Royals can survive for a while without Gordon thanks to the presence of Josh Fields and Alberto Callaspo. The news is far more dire on the prospect front as another promising player with a history of injuries has been lost for the year. Since he was drafted in 2005, SS-Jeff Bianchi has fought through groin and back injuries as well as shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. Now he will undergo reconstructive elbow surgery and miss the 2010 season. Instead of playing in Omaha with a shot at making his major league debut later this summer, Bianchi is facing another surgery and has a long road of rehab. This is a huge blow to the organization and it muddies the 2011 SS picture significantly. It was a picture which figured to be focused, at least in part, on Bianchi making the opening day roster.
LHP-Danny Duffy is also dealing with an injury of his own. In his case it is elbow stiffness. According to the Star’s Bob Dutton, Duffy “isn’t likely to pitch this spring in any big league games.” By my estimation, Duffy had less than a 1% chance to make the opening day roster as a reliever, but the experience of pitching in spring training games against major league, or borderline major league, would have been extremely valuable for his development.
Losing a year of Bianchi’s development is clearly the biggest blow to the organization, but Danny Duffy’s injury bears watching. Elbow stiffness has unique way of turning into elbow surgery seemingly overnight. If that worst case scenario turns into reality, the Royals could lose seasons from two of their top-12 prospects before we even reach opening day. Gordon’s broken thumb could also prove to have a much bigger impact on his development than people anticipate. Hand and wrist injuries have a way of ruining entire seasons and the effects of such injuries tend to linger long after a player returns to the field.
Jeff Bianchi is lost for the year, but with a little luck Danny Duffy will be fine and Alex Gordon will return shortly after opening day, start crushing the ball, and stay healthy the rest of the season. After enduring the last ten seasons don’t we, as Royals fans, deserve a little luck?