By February, you almost forget how frequently baseball players get injured. Since offseason injuries are rare, it’s several straight months of nobody getting dinged or getting surgery or missing seasons. Then, guys start ramping up, a few get hurt, and you remember how quickly the season can change.
For the Cubs, so far, the only injury to report was the unfortunate torn achilles for Logan Watkins. Elsewhere in the NL Central, though, there’s an injury to a hugely important player to report: Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy has a “mild strain” of his right hamstring, the team announced, and stands to miss four to six weeks.
That timetable would take Lucroy out for about the first half of Spring Training games, and possibly just about all of them. A veteran like Lucroy needs less time to get ready for the season, though I’m sure he would have liked to have a chance to work with all of the pitchers before the season kicks off.
As we’ve seen in recent years with hamstrings, though, even “mild” strains can keep a guy out longer than you might think, and they can easily recur. We saw it just last year with Jorge Soler, Ryan Sweeney, and Justin Ruggiano, a hamstring injury almost always takes more than a month to come back full strength, and if you come back too quickly, there’s a chance of reinjury.
Losing Lucroy for almost any amount of time – or if he plays at less than 100% – would be a serious blow to the Brewers, who rely not only on his exceptional defense and quality bat, but also his excellent receiving skills. There is an argument to be made that Lucroy has been among the five or so most valuable players in the game over the last few years when you consider everything he provides. The Brewers are on the cusp of respectability heading into 2015, so their ability to compete directly impacts the Cubs’ ability to add some extra wins, thanks to the unbalanced schedule.
This injury, then, is something to watch.