Injury updates

Posted by Jason Wojciechowski on September 6, 2016 at 9:55 PM

I've got ... well, no, Susan Slusser's got good news and bad news for you. The good news is that the A's don't have anything to play for in 2016, so every additional "he won't play again in 2016" piece of information that comes out neither adds nor subtracts anything from this year's bottom line. The bad news is that the players are playing for 2017 (and beyond) roster spots and salaries, and that being injured is shitty, and that for someone who wants to play baseball for a living, it's probably cold comfort that you get paid even if you're hurt because, well, you want to play baseball for a living. Plus, like I said: 2017.

So the latest 50-foot pile of garbage: Andrew Triggs and Henderson Alvarez are done for 2016.

This is particularly heartbreaking for Alvarez, who's spent all year trying to work his way back to build on the promise he showed in his All-Star 2014 season. Instead of that, even for a partial season, he may be facing more surgery, and he's definitely facing more rehab. The injuries hit for Alvarez before he reached free agency (and right as he hit arbitration eligibility), so he doesn't even have the comfort of having cashed in before it all went to hell. He's made just shy of $10 million in his career, so who knows, maybe even after taxes and agent fees, he could decide that another year of the pain and suffering of rehab isn't worth it, and he'll just retire to a life of careful leisure -- no big purchases, no wild investments, live off the interest, you know. But as I said at the top: baseball player! Not so many players get this far without some combination of love for the game and intense competitive instincts. Twenty-six leaves an awful lot of empty space, and there are only so many prestige TV dramas to catch up on. I try not to think about Mark Prior's desperate end, so instead I'll just root for Alvarez as hard as I can from here on out, regardless of where he signs for next season.

Triggs is hopefully a different story, in that he's having a back problem that, as Slusser says, was previously fixed in 2014 with a cortisone injection, and it's really just a timing issue that means that the same treatment doesn't make sense here on September 6. Triggs had himself a mini-breakout this year, pitching non-disastrously enough out of the bullpen that he was called to join the starting rotation on August 11. (He also made a three-inning start on June 18.) Over his four starts, not counting the final, abbreviated go that he left after one inning with the back issue that has now shut him down, he managed a 2.91 ERA, with 20 strikeouts and just one walk (plus one HBP) in almost 22 innings. The superficial signs of regression are there (.228 BABIP; just one homer allowed on 50 balls in the air), and while it's tempting to say that anyone can succeed in 20 big-league innings, that's not really true: any big-leaguer can succeed in 20 big-league innings, and some Quad-A players can too, but there's a suggestion here that the 19th-round pick might actually belong, if not as the next Justin Masterson exactly (and that's not faint praise; sure, he was only really good in 2011 and 2013, but he also made 184 big-league starts and 30 million big-league dollars), then not definitively as not the next Justin Masterson either. Here's hoping Triggs makes it back in 2017, because "who knows what he might be" is a damn sight better fate for a ballplayer than "we know exactly what he might be, and that's a Triple-A reliever."