Bouchard faces potential season-ending surgery

Rockies outfielder's MRI exam reveals left biceps tear; Márquez executes pitching plan

March 9th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder  will need surgery to repair a left distal biceps muscle tear, the team confirmed on Thursday morning.

The injury, which occurred on a swing during the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the Angels, comes at an inopportune time with Bouchard, 26, having a chance to earn starts and playing time -- based on his .297/.454/.500 slash line in a 27-game Major League debut last season.

The emergence of Bouchard, a ninth-round pick by the Rockies in the 2017 MLB Draft out of UCLA, allowed Colorado to trade utility man Connor Joe to the Pirates for a pitcher they want to develop in right-hander Nick Garcia. The right-handed-hitting Bouchard was competing for starts and playing time in the corner outfield spots. The injury is not to his throwing arm, but the muscle is key to his swing.

“As a professional athlete, pretty much any part of your body is important,” Bouchard said early Thursday, when he was hoping for a better diagnosis from the MRI exam. “Good news is, it’s not the throwing arm, but there’s the ability to stay through pitches and follow through [with the swing].”

Bouchard’s is the third season-threatening or ending injury this spring. Second baseman Brendan Rodgers sustained a left shoulder injury that could cost him the season, and left-hander Lucas Gilbreath will undergo Tommy John surgery next week. The outfield took a hit before camp, when Randal Grichuk underwent bilateral sports hernia surgery. Grichuk is seven to 10 days from game action and he is expected to start the year on the 10-day injured list.

“That was a tough one for us, too, coming off the heels of Brendan’s injury,” manager Bud Black said following the team's 11-1 loss to Team Mexico in a World Baseball Classic exhibition on Thursday.

"That’s a blow. [Bouchard] is a guy that we felt will help our offense with his at-bats and what he showed in a brief stint last year.”

Even before the injury, the Rockies were known to be pursing free agent infielder-outfielder Jurickson Profar, a switch-hitter who is coming off a .111 OPS+ season (100 is MLB average) with the Padres last year. Profar is playing in the World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands -- a team managed by Colorado hitting coach Hensley Meulens.

In the outfield, Kris Bryant has moved from left to right to allow for other options. Yonathan Daza can play all three spots, but he is likely to be in center, and non-roster utility man Harold Castro, a lefty hitter, looks to be playing his way into a prominent role based on his .467 Cactus League average.

Castro plays in the outfield and infield, and he started at first base against Team Mexico. Switch-hitting Cole Tucker, another non-roster player with infield and outfield experience, is batting .273 in Cactus League play.

Michael Toglia, ranked as the Rockies' No. 12 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is a first baseman by trade, No. 16 prospect Brenton Doyle and No. 17 prospect Nolan Jones, who played third for most of his time in the Guardians’ system but broke in with the team last season in the outfield, also are competing.

All about the info

Rockies starter  gave up two runs on five hits and one walk in three innings against Team Mexico, and felt he gained valuable information by testing specific pitches against a tough lineup.

“My plan was to go inside, both sides -- against righties and lefties -- and I think I got pretty good,” said Márquez, who yielded a leadoff double in each inning, but gave up runs only in the third.

Márquez did not join Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic because of a left hamstring injury he sustained early in camp, but hopes he is added should his country advance.