Greinke, Longoria close to returning
April, 29, 2011
By Stephania Bell | ESPN.com
As we head into the weekend, it's a good time to take a look at who might be rejoining their team within the week. It turns out fantasy owners with a hole to fill could have some more options at the ready as May rolls around.
• On Monday, we talked about Milwaukee Brewers ace Zack Greinke nearing his season debut with his new team. According to the Brewers' website, Greinke is expected to make another rehab start for Triple-A Nashville on Friday, and if all goes well, will join the team afterward. He would then likely make his first major league start of the year Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves. It is worth monitoring how Greinke's Friday outing goes, as that could determine his ultimate return date. While his rib fracture has healed, he has been working on restoring strength in his throwing arm after missing all of spring training.
AP Photo/Morry GashZack Greinke is close to the end of his delayed spring training preparations to get his arm ready for the regular season.
• The Tampa Bay Rays and fantasy owners everywhere are salivating at the prospect of having slugger Evan Longoria back in the lineup. The star third baseman is expected to return Tuesday after missing nearly a month with a strained left oblique. Longoria began a rehab assignment with the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits on Thursday, going 1-for-4, with that one hit being a home run in the third inning. The pace at which Longoria has been brought along from his injury was designed with the goal of him coming back at full strength with minimal re-injury risk. Equally important to his successful return is Longoria's confidence in his body's recovery, so that he doesn't hold back or guard himself at the plate. Apparently that process is already working itself out. Longoria told the St. Petersburg Times after Thursday's game, "The more swings I took in that [third-inning] at-bat, the more confident I was it wouldn't bother me." If he keeps this up over the next few days, Longoria should be in good shape to face big league pitchers next week.
• Keep an eye on Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey. Bailey, who has been out since spring training with impingement (which literally translates to "pinching") in his throwing shoulder, had a nice rehab outing last Sunday at Triple-A Louisville. Bailey delivered 5 1/3 scoreless innings, but the Reds chose not to activate him just yet. According to the Reds' website, the team would like him to get to 85-90 pitches before activating him. Pitching coach Bryan Price noted that it's not just the total number of pitches, but also the total innings that matter. "Even if he gets his pitch count, the concern is how many times you get the arm hot, let it cool down and regenerate it the next inning," Price said. "We'd definitely like him to have six up and downs before we consider activation."
If all goes well during Bailey's next rehab outing, which is planned for Saturday, it's possible he could be activated in the coming week. While any pitcher with an impingement issue carries some risk going forward, especially since Bailey has a documented tear in his supraspinatus muscle (one of the four rotator cuff muscles) that was discovered when he missed time last season, Bailey has said all along that this episode felt different. He certainly has demonstrated improvement since the symptoms developed this spring, but only time will tell how well Bailey's shoulder will hold up.
• If it's speed you're looking for, you might be able to find it with Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Rajai Davis, who was slated to rejoin the lineup Friday when the team visits the New York Yankees. Davis injured his right ankle in the Blue Jays' home opener, then aggravated the injury days later, leading to the DL stint. Although he didn't steal any bases during his rehab games, it sounds as if his ankle hasn't limited him in any way. Maybe he's just saving up for his fantasy owners.