Musgrove 'feeling much better' after setback in rehab

April 10th, 2023

NEW YORK -- The Padres are back at Citi Field this week, back at the site of their National League Wild Card Series triumph over the Mets, back where a shiny-eared held New York to one hit over seven innings in a winner-take-all playoff game on Oct. 9, a 6-0 San Diego victory in Game 3.

Musgrove, however, remained conspicuously absent. And the veteran right-hander might be absent longer than he and the Padres had hoped.

Musgrove injured his right shoulder during a rehab start with Triple-A El Paso on Thursday, manager Bob Melvin said. The injury occurred when Musgrove tried to barehand a comebacker, then threw off-balance to first base and landed awkwardly. An MRI on Musgrove’s shoulder came back clean, Melvin added, but Musgrove received a cortisone injection and was shut down for a couple of days.

“He’s feeling much better,” Melvin said. “It’s all about when he starts to play catch and how he feels, and that could be as early as tomorrow.”

Musgrove opened the season on the injured list after he fractured his left big toe when he dropped a kettlebell on it in late February. The Padres had been optimistic that he’d be able to return by mid-April -- perhaps even Tuesday night in New York, the earliest Musgrove is eligible to be activated.

San Diego backed off that plan recently, preferring that Musgrove get a couple of starts with El Paso, which could have lined him up to pitch at Petco Park this weekend. Now, Musgrove’s return has been bumped back further.

The Padres don’t seem too concerned with the recent developments. Musgrove kept pitching through the injury, working 4 1/3 innings while allowing three runs (two earned) against the Giants’ Triple-A Sacramento affiliate. It wasn’t until the following day that Musgrove began to notice the effects of the injury, Melvin said.

With no structural damage visible in Musgrove’s imaging, the team hopes he will be back in his progression in relatively short order. But if the Padres were planning for Musgrove’s next rehab start to be his last one, that may no longer be the case.

“First it’s catch, then it’s a bullpen [session], then we’ll see if we need another start on top of the one we originally envisioned being his last start,” Melvin said. “... So he’s behind a little bit of what we originally anticipated.”

If that’s the case, Musgrove seems doubtful for the team’s next homestand, which begins Thursday against the Brewers. If he needs two rehab starts, he might not return until late April, potentially against either the Cubs in Chicago (April 25-27) or the Giants in Mexico City (April 29-30).

Left-hander Ryan Weathers took Musgrove’s spot in the rotation and pitched five impressive innings in his debut against the D-backs on April 3, showcasing a new and improved arsenal that featured a higher-velocity fastball and a sweeper. Weathers would presumably continue to pitch in Musgrove’s place, as the Padres intend to use a six-man rotation at least through late April.

All things considered, the setback doesn’t seem too severe. Musgrove might end up missing another week or two, but the Padres are hopeful it’ll be nothing more. As such, Melvin was able to joke with Musgrove via phone the other day.

“You couldn’t let that [grounder] go?” Melvin asked the ultra-competitive right-hander, already knowing the answer.