March is a yearly reminder not only for the beginning of spring but it also signals the return of Major League Baseball and Spring Training. The Los Angeles Dodgers once again prepare for a potential trip to reach the World Series, and have a focused mindset after falling short in the 2016 National League Championship Series.
The Dodgers to this point have largely avoided the rash of injuries they endured last spring, but multiple players have dealt with some malaise. Included in that group is relief pitcher Pedro Baez.
He recently took a comebacker off his right thumb that during a live batting practice session. When the results came back negative, Baez was given a few precautionary days off, involving treatment and time for the injury to heal.
However, suffering from lingering pain, Baez has again been shut down and will be further examined, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez’s right hand injury is worse than originally believed, and he has again been shut down from throwing, with further tests scheduled.
The hard-throwing reliever has yet to appear in a Spring Training game and may very well miss the remainder of Cactus League. That in turn could lead to Baez not being included on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster.
However, considering relief pitchers do not require the same stretching-out process as starting pitchers, the 28-year-old could be available for the start of the regular season if he makes a relatively quick return during spring.
Last season, Baez proved to be a crucial piece of the ever-changing bullpen. Although he was unable to lockdown the role as a setup man, Baez provided clutch outings in varying scenarios. He posted a 3.04 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 128 ERA+ and 1.00 WHIP in 74.0 innings pitched.
Baez often drew the ire of the fan base for his deliberate pace, which at averaging 30.2 seconds between pitches led the Majors. It was an issue Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and the coaching staff discussed with Baez on multiple occasions.