116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Let’s pick a random team in the High-A Central League.
Say the Lansing Lugnuts. They were just in town a couple of weeks ago to play the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
Looking at the Lugnuts roster, you see six players on the 10-day Injured List. They’re all pitchers.
Six seems like a high number, and it is. That they’re all pitchers also is unusual.
But that’s the way it has gone in the minor leagues this season: more injuries than normal, whether it’s pitchers or position players. You’d have to think at least part of the reason is that there was no 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Yeah, I do think there is a little uptick in injuries this year. Not only for our organization but for others as well,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “That’s just in talking to other teams and things. With the year off and not being able to replicate games, the intensity that you go through in a full season, I mean, some of those guys went almost 18 months without playing in an actual baseball game.”
You might not think that’s such a big deal. You might think time off from the five-month grind (six, counting spring training) actually might be an injury preventer.
But that hasn’t been the case.
“I thought at first it would be good for guys to have a year off for rest,” said Kernels catcher-first baseman Alex Isola. “But you think about how much the body gets used to that routine of playing every day. So I think that’s 100 percent a big deal. Especially with pitchers, I would imagine. I think you try your best to be as ready as you can in the offseason, but there’s just nothing like the adrenaline of the game, the day to day, just how your body feels different every day.
“Having that year off was kind of tough, tough for guys’ bodies (now) getting used to it. It’s been an adjustment.”
The Kernels have dealt with their fair share of IL stints, and it has seemed to come from guys who are highly touted.
Pitcher Blayne Enlow got off to a great start to the season but injured his elbow and has had Tommy John surgery. He won’t pitch again until next season.
Pitcher Matt Canterino had heads turning in spring training with his improved stuff and carried over that impressiveness to the season. But he has been on the IL since late May with an arm injury.
Outfielder Matt Wallner arguably was the biggest position player prospect on this team coming into the season, but he broke a hamate bone in his hand in late May, had surgery to remove it and is working to get back to playing within the next couple of weeks.
Outfielder DaShawn Keirsey Jr. has returned recently after missing most of the season with hamstring problems. First baseman Gabe Snyder is currently on the IL, as are pitchers Andrew Cabezas, Jonathan Cheshire and Luis Rijo.
“To have that much time off with no actual game action, then to come back and play every day again now, I think that’s part of the reason why there are so many injuries piling up,” Dinkelman said. “Hopefully we get through that wave soon and guys come back healthy. As we go on with the season, hopefully we’ll get back to having an amount of injuries you’d have in a normal season.”
Or perhaps even fewer.
Around the horn
- Cedar Rapids Prairie graduate Scott Schebler was designated for assignment this week by the Los Angeles Angels, cleared waivers and was sent back to Triple-A Salt Lake. The outfielder played in 14 games in a couple of big-league stints this season, going 5-for-34 with 17 strikeouts. Being DFAed means Schebler has been taken off the Angels’ 40-man roster and would have to be re-added before getting back to the majors.
- Former Cedar Rapids Xavier prep Mitch Keller this week had his longest outing since the Pittsburgh Pirates sent him back to Triple-A Indianapolis. Keller went five innings at Columbus, gave up just two hits, no runs or walks and struck out four. Keller has a 1.84 earned run average in five appearances for Indianapolis, including three starts.
- Former Cedar Rapids Washington prep A.J. Puk hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last four relief outings for Triple-A Las Vegas, as he tries to get back to the major leagues with Oakland. Puk did give up five unearned runs in one of those appearances, however. His ERA is 8.51 in 17 games for Vegas.
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