SportsPulse: Now that Bryce Harper and Manny Machado have signed we can finally look ahead to actual baseball. Here are the storylines that will define the MLB in 2019.
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., widely viewed as one of MLB’s top prospects, suffered a left oblique strain Friday and is expected to require three weeks of rehab time.
The injury likely means Guerrero Jr. won’t be ready for opening day and removes all doubt from the controversy surrounding his eventual call-up to the majors.
“In his last at-bat he felt a sharp pain in his side, which for the first time for any young player is a frightening feeling, and fortunately it is just a Grade 1 and it’s something we’ll be able to manage,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told reporters.
Guerrero Jr., a frontrunner to win the AL Rookie of the Year, is widely considered to be ready for the major leagues now. But the Blue Jays, like many teams in their situation, were likely to delay his promotion in order to gain another year of control on his contract.
Atkins said at the beginning of spring training that he didn’t think Guerrero Jr. was ready for the majors yet as a 19-year-old.
According to MLB’s service-time rules, the Blue Jays would gain the extra year of control if Guerrero Jr. spends at least 15 days in the minors before being called up to the 25-man roster.
The 19-year-old has torched minor league pitching in parts of three seasons with the Blue Jays organization. In 276 games played spanning from Class A to Class AAA, he has accumulated a slash line of .331/.414/.529 (batting average, on-base percentage, on-base plus slugging percentage) with 41 home runs, 200 RBI, 69 doubles and 26 steals.
In 19 plate appearances this spring, Guerrero Jr. has hit .211 with two doubles and an RBI.