Freeland, who sustained a left shoulder strain in Spring Training, has thrown some simulated games. In Saturday’s game, Freeland will be limited to 60-70 pitches. Such an outing indicates that he is close to a return.
Rodgers, whose right hamstring strain sidelined him during Spring Training, has been getting at-bats at extended spring training this week. Black said he would have the details on Rodgers’ rehab after consulting with head athletic trainer Keith Dugger.
Both absences have been major.
After his breakout 2018 (17-7, 2.85 ERA), Freeland struggled with a groin injury and could not counter when hitters had adjusted to him. In 2019, the results were a 6.73 ERA and an option to Albuquerque.
But Freeland, who turns 28 on May 14, rebounded with a 4.33 ERA -- a bad final start inflated that number -- and led the Majors in double-play grounders induced (14 during a shortened season). Better planning and execution of his changeup made him a more complete pitcher, and he plans to build on that improvement in 2021.
Rodgers, 24, has struggled with injuries and sporadic playing time during brief stints the last two years, hitting .196 in 32 games. Both years, right shoulder injuries forced him off the field. Rodgers was working toward a return last year when a left hamstring strain occurred.
But the trade of third baseman Nolan Arenado to the Cardinals gave Rodgers his best shot yet at regular playing time, with the possibility of him playing second and Ryan McMahon moving from second to third. Through 10 Cactus League games before the injury, Rodgers was hitting .348 with two home runs and five RBIs.
Keeping missed action to a minimum
Black said “it’s going to be real close but we’re cautiously optimistic” whether first baseman C.J. Cron, placed on the 10-day injured list on Monday with a lower back strain, will be ready to return when he is eligible for the May 17 game at San Diego. Cron is batting .290 with five home runs. Connor Joe, Matt Adams and Josh Fuentes will share first base duties while Cron is unavailable.