McKenzie to rest for 2 weeks with shoulder strain

March 28th, 2023

PHOENIX -- The Guardians will have to start the year without in their rotation after an MRI revealed a strain in his right teres major muscle.

McKenzie will be shut down from throwing for two weeks, and may need up to eight weeks to return to play. He was scheduled to start the second game of the season in Seattle on Friday. Now, Cleveland has to figure out how to fill his void.

The easiest option would be moving starter -- who’s currently stretched out to 70 pitches -- from the bullpen to the rotation. That doesn’t mean he would start on Friday, but it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll be one of the team’s five starters to open the year. The Guardians could also choose to start , who’s currently scheduled to pitch a Minor League game on Wednesday before the start of the season, on Friday.

Assuming Gaddis moves to the rotation, the Guardians will then have a bullpen spot to fill. If they want to stick with someone already on the 40-man roster, Minor League starter would be the first option. The team could also try to clear a spot for righty , who was a non-roster invitee in camp.

The team was hoping to avoid this scenario when McKenzie was removed from his final Spring Training start on Sunday after just one inning. He said he started to feel discomfort -- tightness that felt like standard aches and pains -- in his triceps area and in the back of his right shoulder. When he went on the mound, he said he didn’t notice the tightness, but when he got to the dugout, he said he felt a weird sensation that forced him to talk to his coaching and medical staff.

“We were trying to be hopeful,” manager Terry Francona said after the Guardians' 7-6 loss to the D-backs on Monday. “There’s a reason he came out of the game. So, we’ll take care of him and get him back to 100%.”

Everyone agreed it was best to get McKenzie out of the game, though they hoped it was just precautionary measures. McKenzie even reported to camp on Monday after undergoing his MRI and said he was feeling better than the day before. But now he’s dealing with a significant bump in the road just as Opening Day approaches.

“Extremely [frustrating],” McKenzie said before learning the results of his scan. “But I think it’s part of the game and I think we’re trying to be proactive about it and get ahead of it. So, I mean, you can only take it as is.”

Francona, along with Monday’s starter , said McKenzie’s attitude will push him through this unexpected hurdle.

“I’ve known Triston for a while," Civale said. "I know how resilient he is, I know what he can battle through and he’s going to come back stronger.”

The Guardians have had a handful of players fall victim to teres major muscle strains. Last year, righty had to stay in Arizona as the team broke camp to deal with a mild teres major muscle strain in his throwing arm. Originally, he was told he’d be shut down from throwing for seven to 10 days. He didn’t end up beginning his rehab assignment until June 1.

Righty has dealt with this issue a few times, including this spring, which prevented him from making the Opening Day roster once again. Last year, he was placed on the 60-day IL coming out of Spring Training with the same injury and didn’t begin his rehab assignment until mid July. Prior to that, former Cleveland hurler Mike Clevinger was sidelined for two months with the same ailment during the 2019 season.