Here’s a preemptive apology, since this is going to read like you’ve been in a car driving in a circle in reverse against the grain of a spinning carousel. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani had an injury scare early in Spring Training, and we all got seriously worried. Then, he had things checked out, we found out there was nothing structurally wrong, and we all operated under the new assumption that he’d be ready to go shortly after the start of the regular season.
Then, the news did a complete 180, our emotions did more of a 540, and we ended up not seeing DeSclafani make a start until June 10th. Of course, that was this time last year, back when Disco was dealing with an oblique injury, one that originally had him on course to return to the Reds' rotation as early as April 10th before setback after setback, well, kept setting him back.
This year, his obliques appear to be in tip-top shape, but it's been elbow soreness that has kept Disco sidelined to date in Cactus League action. We found that out, we freaked, but after a meeting with team doctor Tim Kremcheck, Disco was cleared to resume throwing, easing our worries. We found out the time off would mean he'd likely not be able to start the Opening Day game, but that he was just behind - not injured - and could potentially even be available to start a game in the season's opening series.
Back to the apology and carousel comment I opened with. The Cincinnati beats reported together this morning that the soreness in Disco's elbow has returned, and it's now likely he'll start the season on the DL.
Anthony DeSclafani's elbow soreness came back. Will not start tomorrow. May start on DL, more tests being done— Zach Buchanan (@ZachENQ) March 12, 2017
If this all sounds somewhat familiar, it should. It should sound like Disco's 2016 travails, as well as the repeated setbacks that kicked Homer Bailey's 2016 debut two months down the road. It should probably remind you that Devin Mesoraco once spent 43 days on the active roster without making a start in 2015 before finally, finally being placed on the DL. It should remind you that each and every time you think an injury is minor - especially in the pitching side of the baseball world - it's probably better to assume things aren't going to be as clear-cut and rosy as the most optimistic minds would suggest.
Keep in mind that it wasn't just Disco's delay last year that turned their entire pitching staff into a dumpster fire through most of April and May. Bailey's setbacks factored in there, too, as did the forearm soreness from Michael Lorenzen and the shoulder fatigue felt by Raisel Iglesias. Those powers combined forced the Reds to take a flier on Dan Straily in the first place, as well as to sign Alfredo Simon to help be an actual human being with arms who could throw a ball at a catcher every fifth day.
So far this year, the injury bug has begun to creep up again, with Bailey already set to miss at least the first 60 days of the year with another elbow surgery and Disco now likely to start on the 10-day DL, too. That leaves Brandon Finnegan, Scott Feldman, Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, and Tim Adleman as the likely five when the season begins - assuming Adleman stops getting pummeled by comebackers up the middle between now and then. However, the idea of transitioning Lorenzen back to the rotation is at least fathomable, as Bryan Price mentioned to The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan in the wake of the Disco news this morning. Otherwise, it's conceivable that the team could look to pursue one of the scrap-heap starters out on the market again some 12 months removed from dipping twice into that market for the same reasons.
That all this news broke on the day that Bronson Arroyo and Mesoraco, of all folks, are set to make their 2016 spring debuts is not lost. Arroyo, presumably, will get the first crack at being a scrap-heap reclamation project, and today will be the first chance to see if he's still got at all what it takes to get big league hitters out. He'll be caught by Mesoraco, the human embodiment of 'physical setback' over the last two years, and perhaps its worth wishing that their hopeful healthy emergence from today's Cactus League tie is some sort of health omen for Disco and this godawful pattern the Reds keep seeing repeat.
Until then, it's probably worth putting your DeSclafani shirseys back in the drawer for awhile.