CLEVELAND -- All Aaron Civale wanted to do this season was enjoy being healthy again, but after just two starts, he’s heading back to the injured list.
The Guardians announced Monday afternoon that Civale sustained a left oblique strain that landed him on the 15-day injured list. The team selected the contract of righty Peyton Battenfield to take his place on the active roster. To make room on the 40-man, the Guardians moved Triston McKenzie to the 60-day IL.
There are a lot of moving parts to this move, so let’s break them down:
Civale to the IL
There was no indication after his start against the Mariners in Cleveland’s home opener on Friday that Civale was not feeling right -- at least to the public. Civale informed his coaching staff that he felt some discomfort, but because of how cold the conditions were, the team was assuming (and hoping) it was just a cramp.
He reported to the ballpark on Saturday to do his usual long toss, but he wasn’t able to do that as planned due to lingering soreness. So, the Guardians decided to get him scanned. Since Sunday was a holiday, the tests couldn’t be run until Monday morning.
In 2021, Civale got off to a strong start before he was sidelined for more than two months with a sprained middle finger. Last year, he made three separate trips to the IL with left glute soreness, a right wrist sprain and right forearm inflammation.
Guardians manager Terry Francona continued to say that the team knows how effective Civale can be if he can stay healthy. Now, they have to figure out how to fill yet another vacancy in this rotation.
Battenfield to start … possibly
The Guardians called on Battenfield to fill the opening on the active roster. On Monday, he’ll be added into the bullpen mix to help bring some additional depth after Sunday’s 12-inning marathon against the Mariners. But Cleveland isn’t itching to get him into a game before Wednesday.
The plan will be to keep Battenfield as a relief option for Monday and Tuesday. If he’s needed, the Guardians will call on him. But if he’s not, it’s likely that he’ll take Civale’s place to start against the Yankees in the series finale on Wednesday.
Other starting options would include Xzavion Curry or deploying an opener, assuming the club doesn’t exhaust the bullpen over the next two games.
McKenzie down until the end of May
Yes, McKenzie was moved to the 60-day IL to make room for Battenfield, but that doesn’t mean he’s experiencing setbacks with his recovery from a strain in his right shoulder’s teres major muscle.
McKenzie underwent a positive check up on Sunday. He was asymptomatic during all the tests and he was cleared to begin throwing weighted balls. By the end of the week, he should begin a throwing program.
But as we’ve seen a handful of times over the last few years, teres major muscle strains take time and when the Guardians were mapping out the best case scenario of his recovery, they realized he wouldn’t be back until at least May 26. If he moved to the 60-day IL, the first day he could be reinstated would be May 29. So, the decision was easy to clear a 40-man spot.
“He’s doing really well,” Francona said of McKenzie. “We sat and talked to him about timeline and things like that because we want to include him in that decision. … We’d love to have him back last week. But he’s doing well.”