Injury Notes: Mahle, Meadows, Walker, Johnson

The Twins are surely breathing a sigh of relief, announcing to reporters Thursday that an MRI revealed right-hander Tyler Mahle’s shoulder to be structurally sound. Mahle, acquired from the Reds in exchange for three prospects earlier this month, exited yesterday’s start after just 2 1/3 innings due to shoulder fatigue. That was of particular concern, given that he also missed time in July with what was termed by the Reds as a “minor’” shoulder strain. For the time being, there are no plans to place Mahle on the 15-day injured list, though it’s not yet clear whether his next start will be pushed back at all.

Mahle’s Wednesday start saw his fastball clocking in around four miles per hour shy of his typical 93.4 mph average, so there’s still some obvious concern, but the absence of a tear or any structural issues is about the best news for which the Twins could have hoped. In 14 1/3 innings as a Twin, Mahle has pitched to a 2.51 ERA with a 23.1% strikeout rate and a 7.7% walk rate. Mahle, Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy are in line to make the majority of the Twins’ starts down the stretch, though they’re expecting right-hander Bailey Ober back in September and just this week promoted prospect Simeon Woods Richardson from Double-A to Triple-A.

Some more injury scenarios of note from around the league…

  • As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Tigers, manager A.J. Hinch announced this week that outfielder Austin Meadows has once again been pulled from a rehab assignment (link via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News). Meadows first hit the injured list back in mid-May due to vertigo-like symptoms and returned a bit less than a month later. That return lasted only eight games, however, before he was placed on the Covid-related injured list. Just as Meadows was getting ready to head out on a rehab assignment, he was transferred to the 10-day injured list owing to the bizarre diagnosis of an Achilles strain in both legs. This now marks the second time that Meadows has had a rehab assignment for this injury halted. Hinch’s only update was that Meadows was headed to Detroit for reevaluation and that the Tigers still have hope he can return in 2022. It’s been a nightmare of a season for Meadows, who has been limited to just 147 plate appearances and seen his power disappear: .250/.347/.328.
  • Mets righty Taijuan Walker left his most recent start due to back spasms, with an MRI revealing a slight disc bulge in his lower back, reports Anthony DiComo of However, it’s possible he could make his next scheduled start on Sunday. Walker tells DiComo that he is “shocked” to be feeling so good so soon after experiencing “the worst pain I ever felt.” Although he’s feeling better, he still won’t take the mound on Sunday unless he’s feeling 100 percent, per DiComo. If he is indeed recovered, it would be a tremendous gift for the Mets, given the current pressures on their rotation. With Carlos Carrasco recently landing on the IL and the Mets having a doubleheader on Saturday, having to make it through Sunday without Walker would certainly be a challenge. How his back responds over the next few days will determine if the club can avoid that tricky scenario.
  • Padres reliever Pierce Johnson is heading out on a rehab assignment, tweets Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Johnson had an excellent season for San Diego a year ago, throwing 58 2/3 innings with a 3.22 ERA and 31.6% strikeout rate. The Friars held a $3MM club option over Johnson’s services for this year, which they exercised based on that strong showing last season. Unfortunately, Johnson landed on the IL in April due to elbow tendinitis. He’s yet to return, meaning he’s only been able to get into six games this year. After a layoff of about four months, it seems he’s healthy enough to get back into game shape. Once he’s ready to return to the big league club, he should give the bullpen a boost for the final few weeks of the season.

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