Goal number one for each team during the spring may be to survive the month and a half of preparation for the 162-game grind to come as healthy as possible.
While the focus for the Indians throughout this spring training camp has been on the statuses of former All-Stars Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis as they each get ready for the 2017 season, Cleveland was dealt a loss from an area of depth when pitcher Cody Anderson was lost for the season with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, in addition to a mild right flexor strain. Anderson, who shared that his arm had not felt right for a year, has opted to have the injury corrected through reconstructive Tommy John surgery, which will shelve him for all of the 2017 season.
After an impressive 7-3 record with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP in 15 starts to begin his Major League career in 2015, Anderson did not appear to be the same pitcher on the mound for the Indians last season. He was slotted into the number four spot in the starting rotation to start the year, but ultimately lost his place on the staff and spent time shuffling back and forth between Cleveland and Triple-A Columbus. He eventually found himself in the bullpen and would make more appearances in that role for the Indians (10) than he would make starts (9) over the course of the season.
He finished his season with a 2-5 record, a 6.68 ERA, and a 1.62 WHIP in 19 total appearances for Cleveland. He was 0-2 in 13 games at Columbus (including six starts) with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP across 32 1/3 innings.
Anderson missed time during the season with right elbow tightness, an injury that landed him on the 7-day disabled list at Triple-A in June and kept him out of action for nearly three weeks. Following the Indians stint in the playoffs, he had an arthroscopic debridement performed on the right elbow to clean up bone chips. At the time of the surgery, it was believed that Anderson would be able to start his offseason throwing program in early January and would have been primed to go at the start of the season. That process was slowed in Goodyear as Anderson dealt with discomfort in his pitching arm.
This past Friday, the 26-year-old right-hander met again with the same surgeon who performed his November surgery in Dallas. The second opinion conducted by Dr. Keith Meister confirmed the presence of the sprained UCL in Anderson’s pitching arm.
Anderson had not participated in any spring game action for the Tribe while working his way back from the procedure in the fall, which quickly eliminated him from latching on to the one perceived opening in the Cleveland bullpen for the coming season. With two years of experience at the Major League level, Anderson was presumed to be one of the top arms to call upon in Columbus in the event of an injury to a member of the Indians’ starting rotation or if the club was in need of a spot starter for a makeup date.
Now, the depth starting rotation options at Columbus would look to include Mike Clevinger, Ryan Merritt, Adam Plutko, and Shawn Morimando, all of whom appeared for the Indians over the course of the 2016 season.
The latter three were optioned to Columbus on Monday when the Indians announced a slew of roster moves affecting players in spring camp. Pitchers Travis Banwart, Steve Delabar, Josh Martin, Chris Narveson, and James Russell, catcher Guillermo Quiroz, infielders Ronny Rodriguez and Eric Stamets, and outfielder Greg Allen were also reassigned to minor league camp, leaving the Indians’ current spring training roster at 43 players (including ten non-roster spring invitees).
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