Baseball’s biggest off-season spenders—the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the Toronto Blue Jays—are off to rocky starts this season as significant injuries have struck key players.
Entering the season with an all-time major league record $230 million payroll, the Dodgers (7-6) are fourth in the National League West. Now the team must find a way to compensate for losing its second best pitcher for two months.
Starter Zack Greinke underwent a 90-minute procedure to repair his broken left collarbone Saturday after he suffered the injury during a benches-clearing brawl in a game against the San Diego Padres Thursday night. Greinke hit the Padres’ Carlos Quentin on his left shoulder with a pitch, and after the two men exchanged a few harsh words, Quentin charged the mound and tackled Greinke to the ground.
Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young winner when he pitched for the Kansas City Royals, signed a six-year, $147 million contract with the Dodgers in December.
Quentin claimed Greinke has a history of hitting him with pitches and the “situation could have been avoided.” Greinke has hit Quentin three times in his career, but before Thursday, the last hit by pitch had occurred in 2009. His batting stance, leaning far over the plate, causes the slugger to be often struck by pitches. Quentin led the major leagues in hit by pitches with 23 in 2011 and 17 last year.
“I never hit him on purpose,” Greinke said. “I never thought about hitting him on purpose. He always seems to think that I’m hitting him on purpose, but that’s not the case.”
Quentin was suspended for eight games for charging the mound.
Greinke’s old team, the Angels, is off to a worse start than its L.A. rival. Despite a star-studded roster, the Angels (4-9) share the worst record in the American League through the first two weeks of the season.
The Angels signed slugger Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract in the off-season, but he has yet to pay dividends, batting a mere .186, with one home run and 15 strikeouts. Additionally, the Angels lost ace pitcher Jered Weaver for four weeks after he dropped to the ground trying to avoid being hit by a batted ball.
“It’s very disappointing, but I guess you’ve got to look on the bright side of things sometimes,” Weaver said. “It’s better earlier [in the season] than towards the end, but at the same time, it’s very frustrating and disappointing.”
Toronto has also stumbled out of the gate after overhauling its team with blockbuster trades and free agent signings this off-season. At 5-7, the Blue Jays are fourth in the American League East, and their pitching staff has allowed more runs than any other AL team. The news got worse this week when four-time All-Star Jose Reyes severely sprained his left ankle and will likely be sidelined for two months.