Injuries Galore: Greinke, Reyes, and Bryant each suffer serious injuries

Posted: 04/13/2013 by levcohen in Baseball, Basketball

In the last 48 hours, three players with a combined 20 all-star game appearances, two MVP’s-Cy Young’s, and 11 top five finishes in those awards in two different sports.

The first guy to go down, pitcher Zack Greinke, got hurt in bizarre circumstances. After hitting Carlos Quentin (this was the third time he had hit Quentin, but Quentin does lead the MLB  in hit-by-pitches over the past few years), Quentin charged the mound and a fight ensued. Greinke took the brunt of the fight and ended up breaking his left (non-throwing) collarbone. The Dodgers feel that Greinke did not mean to hit Quentin, and Major League Baseball agrees; Quentin was suspended for eight games. Greinke is expected to be out for at least a month, but probably closer to two. This is a big blow to both Dodgers fans and Greinke fantasy owners. Starting for the next few months in his place will be either Ted Lilly or Chris Capuano. Those two guys are pretty good options, as both (especially Lilly) have had long and productive careers, and would both be good #5 starters on most teams. For the Dodgers, they are the #6 and #7, so at least LA has some depth behind Greinke. Lilly and/or Capuano will probably be able to perform adequately.

The next night, another contending team took a huge blow, as Jose Reyes severely sprained his left ankle and is expected to be out for three months. Reyes is a huge blow to the Toronto Blue Jays, and is probably their most irreplaceable player, if only because he is a great leadoff hitter who can get on base and is also a great defensive shortstop. Reyes is hitting about .400 on the season. Still, the Blue Jays do have options behind Reyes. When third baseman Brett Lawrie returns from an injury, which should be in the next week or two, Emilio Bonifacio will probably play shortstop with Maicer Izturis taking over second base. Neither of those guys are Jose Reyes, but both are good replacements. They’ve combined for 201 career stolen bases, so they should replace Reyes’ steals nicely. Neither guy has much power, but neither does Reyes. These guys don’t have great on base skills, as both get on at about a 33% clip, but they should be fine replacements for Reyes. Neither of them are gold glove infielders, but both are at least average. Assuming Lawrie gets back without incident, the Blue Jays should be ok.

Now we shift to basketball, where Kobe Bryant, of all people, ruptured his achillies. Over the past 15 years, Bryant has been perhaps the most durable player in the NBA. With just three games left in the season, this is a huge blow to a Lakers team clinging to a one game lead of 8th place over the Utah Jazz. Even if the Lakers do make the playoffs, one would think that their run will be very short. Still, the Lakers do have the talent on paper to still make some noise in the playoffs. Bryant had been acting as their de-facto point guard. Now Steve Nash can play PG and run the pick and roll with Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard. Maybe now the Lakers will play to their immense potential, but if nothing else they will get a peek at the post-Kobe years. This injury could have an impact on Bryant and the Lakers beyond this year, because this is a serious injury. Not only will Bryant miss the season, he will miss 6-9 months. Even if it is six months, he won’t be healthy until October and probably won’t be back at full strength until at least December. Bryant has said that he will retire after next year, but one would think that he’ll want to go out with a bang. This injury might compromise his ability for all of next year, and he might want to sign a one year contract so he can end his career at full strength. As for Laker management, LA does have the option to use the amnesty clause on Bryant after this season. If that were to happen, the Lakers would have to pay Bryant the 30 million he is owed, but it would not count against the salary cap. Assuming that Bryant will miss or be compromised in at least half the season, that would probably be the smart business move, but it isn’t one the Lakers are likely to make. Bryant is just too beloved by Laker fans. Still, no matter what the Lakers say now, I wouldn’t count out the amnesty, because it would save the Lakers 80 million dollars in luxury tax. That is a lot of money.

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