It’s hard to imagine the term “dropping like flies” being more fitting for a baseball club than it’s been this week for the RubberDucks.
The team has lost three starters from the lineup to injury in as many days. Making matters worse is the fact that the trio also happens to be the club’s top three players.
Wednesday, the Ducks lost starting shortstop - and the parent-club Indians No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America - when Francisco Lindor suffered a broken nose while fielding a ball that took a bad hop.
During Thursday’s game, the injury bug took a bite out of second baseman Joey Wendle. The Tribe’s No. 17th prospect suffered a broken hamate bone in his right wrist on his own foul tip.
Then for the third consecutive game, Ducks centerfielder Tyler Naquin went down in the eighth inning of Friday’s 4-3 loss to Harrisburg. The organization’s No. 4 prospect was hit with a pitch on the right hand and suffered a second metacarpal fracture.
“I don’t know what’s going on around here, but it’s kinda weird to have one guy after another getting hurt like this,” said Naquin, whose swollen right hand rested on a flat board and was heavily wrapped with an ace bandage. “As soon I got hit, I knew it was broke. (The trainer) came out and I said, ‘it’s broke, dude. Let’s go (to the hospital).’’’
Once the swelling subsides, Naquin is scheduled to undergo a surgery that will likely require a plate and screws to be inserted. Wendle is also facing surgery. However, Ducks manager Dave Wallace said, “the hamate is a more common injury” and thus, typically not as serious as Naquin’s and not as lengthy of a recovery.
“I really don’t think I have any more to prove at the Double-A level,” said a clearly frustrated Naquin, who hit .313 with 12 doubles, five triples, four home runs, 30 RBI and 54 runs scored. “I feel comfortable with what I’ve done. I’m just going to go rehab and get my hand ready for spring training next year.”
Lindor ought to be able to return to the lineup sometime next week. He’s slated to be fitted for a clear plastic mask Monday that will allow him to play with protection after missing about a week.
As for Naquin and Wendle, the pair will eventually head to the Indians year-round spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz., to begin their respective rehab processes.
In the meantime as the Ducks try to piece together a new lineup, infielder Erick Gonzalez was called up from high Class-A Carolina Thursday to fill in temporarily for Lindor. Saturday, outfielder Ollie Linton joined the Ducks from Carolina for Naquin and third baseman Adam Abraham came down from Triple-A Columbus to fill Wendle’s roster spot.