Spring training has not been very kind to Justin Upton this year. The Detroit Tigers' newest big-money acquisition left Wednesday's game against the Washington Nationals after rolling his ankle while tracking a fly ball. Upton nearly collided with center fielder Anthony Gose, but did not appear to hit his head. Reporters noted that Upton walked off the field under his own power, though his gait was deliberate. The severity of Upton's injury has yet to be determined.
Upton has gotten off to a rough start offensively this spring, collecting one hit in his first 11 at-bats entering Wednesday's game. Upton has eight strikeouts in those 11 at-bats, but drove in a run with his only hit. He drew a walk in his only appearance against Washington's Gio Gonzalez on Wednesday.
Upton is entering the first season of a six-year, $132.75 million contract. When healthy, it appears he will hit second in the Tigers' everyday lineup, just ahead of two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera. Upton sports a career 10.3 percent walk rate, but also has plenty of power, including 26 home runs in 150 games played last season. He has remained relatively healthy over the entirety of his career, and has played in at least 149 games in each of the past five seasons.
On a happier note, it appears Anibal Sanchez is closer to returning to action. He threw a 50-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, his second since a setback in late February. He is slated to throw a third bullpen on Friday, and if all goes well, could face live hitters early next week.
Assuming Sanchez has no more setbacks, his early soreness may not hinder his readiness for the start of the season. If Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmermann start the Tigers' first two games in Miami, Sanchez would not pitch in a regular season game until April 8, the team's home opener against the New York Yankees. Thanks to an early off day, the Tigers do not need a fifth starter until April 12 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Tigers have sidelined relievers Jeff Ferrell and Alex Wilson, both of whom are dealing with shoulder soreness, for the next couple days. Wilson still has yet to appear in a game this spring, but has downplayed the severity of his arm soreness thus far. After posting a 2.19 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 70 innings last season, Wilson will be expected to help bolster a bullpen that was among the worst in baseball last year.
Ferrell, a 26th round pick by the Tigers in 2010, last pitched on Saturday against the Nationals. He made his major league debut last season after bullrushing his way through the upper minors, but allowed a 6.35 ERA in 11 1/3 innings. His timetable for return this spring has not been determined.