Following up: Lat injury may limit Norge Vera’s innings for him

(Photo by Nick Panico)

Norge Vera’s stateside debut had a chance of being the White Sox farm system’s biggest story of April.

Now it might have to settle for May, as Chris Getz said on Tuesday that Vera is dealing with a mild right lat strain. Oscar Colás’ stateside debut can now rest easy.

If the White Sox were going to program rest in Vera’s schedule, then this injury could leave him no worse for the wear when it comes to accomplishing a build-up. I’m just a little bit wary of dismissing lat strains as minor, because ever since that particular muscle came into great prominence among White Sox when Jake Peavy’s rolled up on him like a shrink-wrapped Costacos Bros. poster, it seems like even lesser cases can linger a while.

Lucas Giolito had one that ended his breakout 2019 season, but it occurred in the second half of September, so it only covered the span of a minimal stint on the injured list as far as actual days missed. He showed up to 2020 spring training in fine shape before the pandemic haltered everything.

However, when it comes to pitchers who had ample time to return, the processes all seemed to require extra weeks. James Shields and Jake Petricka both dealt with multi-month rehab processes after suffering lat strains in April of 2017, and there aren’t any normal stories on the farm, either. Tyler Johnson and Zack Burdi both had their ascent interrupted by lat strains (among other issues), and Jonathan Stiever’s rocky 2021 season ended with lat surgery.

Basically, I can’t find a White Sox pitcher whose strained lat resembled a strained groin, which isn’t to say that hasn’t happened. Minor league injury knowledge is incomplete by nature, so there’s a chance that numerous pitchers have come back from such an injury with minimal drama. Given the history, though, I’m inclined to temper expectations for Vera’s immediate future until he is actually able to return to the mound with a purpose.

Speaking of concerns, I mentioned on Tuesday morning that the White Sox and Jared Kelley seem like they’re feeling around for a path forward, at least based on what we’d heard from Chris Getz and Everett Teaford.

Scott Merkin gave Kelley’s situation more room to breathe in a story on Tuesday, including quotes from Kelley, who didn’t really find anything to like about his 2021. Looking ahead, Kelley and Chris Getz are emphasizing his improved conditioning:

“He’s worked hard on his core strength, his shoulder strength and really just learning the ins and outs of what it takes to be a starting pitcher in the professional game He’s on a normal progression right now. We’re happy with where Jared’s at. I know that he’s really confident and he should be, because of the work he put in this offseason,” [Getz said]. […]

“This year … I kind of know what a full season looks like. I know what I need to do to prepare, get my body right, get my arm in shape to last the entire season,” Kelley said. “I know what kind of pitcher I am. I know what my ability is. It’s not like this year I’m going into it scared or anything like that. Now I know what I need to do and how I need to pitch. I take last season more as a learning curve than anything.”

There’s an urge to write it off as classic Best Shape of His Life grist for the spring training content mill. The context offers a counterpoint, in that coming off a shortened senior season and no minor league baseball, maybe you can’t blame a small-school, multi-sport player for having greater difficulties than usual in preparing for the grind of pro ball. Hell, for all that Carson Fulmer achieved during his storied Vanderbilt career, he and the White Sox rushed him before he could establish any kind of professional foundation, and he’s still working through the consequences seven years later.

If you want a counter-counterpoint, Daryl Van Schouwen noted that Kelley’s offseason throwing program was interrupted by a bout with COVID-19, which is not what you want.

By wearing the No. 65, coming out of the middle of the draft’s second day and throwing a fastball like one would a javelin, Codi Heuer naturally invited comparisons to Nate Jones.

Unfortunately, Heuer can add another likeness to the list, as it looks like he’s going to miss all of the 2022 season due to Tommy John surgery. Heuer implied it on Instagram, and because teams won’t comment on 40-man players until the lockout ends, confirmation is coming from back channels.

Heuer posted better run-prevention numbers with the Cubs after a disappointing half-season with the White Sox, but the peripherals didn’t suggest anything sustainable …

White Sox4038.245510395.123.69

… and the fastball velocity tumbled over six months as well.

Craig Kimbrel also dealt with diminishing power over the course of the season, so the two Chicago teams might’ve swapped dented cans before the deadline. The deal just can’t be summed up that neatly because 1) Kimbrel is still on the books, and 2) Nick Madrigal was also involved, and he’ll ultimately have the most to say about how history judges the deal.

As for Madrigal, the Cubs won’t issue an official update on his recovery from hamstring surgery until the lockout ends. That timetable might be sooner than expected, because the league finally appears to be making offers that can’t be laughed out of the room.

Because MLB often likes to offer something resembling compromise only after attaching something players hate, there are some strings attached (international draft, fast-tracking rule changes this time). Still, with a higher start to the CBT threshold, a greater increase to minimum salaries over the duration of the proposal, and only a 12-team postseason, this actually has the framework for something agreeable. That’s why this post is up now, rather than Wednesday morning.

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It looks like the owners may be finally starting to find common ground on the numbers for CBT and minimum salaries. It remains questionable as to what strings are attached, but they look to be getting closer to finding a middle ground which could lead to an agreement. Let’s hope this momentum continues in the next few days.

As Cirensica

The perspective to actually start losing money might be a good motivator, and in that newly minted Apple deal, surely there is a clause that reads something like “no baseball, no moolah”


I commend the players for their resolve this time. Setting money aside for the last several years to help the younger guys out has paid off. I think the owners are sensing that the players are serious about holding together this time. Hopefully we’ll see a deal this week. If they do, I think they’ll do everything they can to play 162 games. Which will mean teams will need at least 6-7 starters to get through.


What do the different minimum salaries represent? The salary going up over time or is it different salaries depending on how many years of service time you have?


Those are the minimum salaries for the 5 years of the agreement 2022-26.




I am kind of surprised the Players don’t try harder to tie all these numbers to league revenue like other leagues do with salary caps.


In the other leagues the revenue split goes hand-in-hand with a salary cap. MLBPA apparently doesn’t want that, although as revenues expand my view is that it would have more benefit than detriment to them.


I have admittedly not been paying that much attention, but if the MLBPA doesn’t want an NBA-like agreement (calculate basketball-related revenue, split between owners and players, have a salary cap with some tax and incentive structure AND a salary floor) then it would seem to be that the superstars in MLB are more powerful (or more greedy) than the superstars in the NBA.

It’s pretty commonly acknowledged that MVP-caliber and star rookie-contract NBA players are “underpaid” compared to their value to the team, and that mid-level journeymen are the beneficiaries by getting mid-level contracts when they should probably be playing for the league minimum. But that’s the deal that they struck to make sure everyone in the union has a shot at generational wealth rather than a dozen guys or so getting nine digit contracts and everyone else filling out rosters for the league minimum.

I get that MLB is a different sport – one or two superstars can’t carry a team the way they can in the NBA (just ask the Angels) – but I’m surprised that the MLBPA hasn’t pushed their own membership for a CBA structure that would contribute to internal equity rather than just trying to get more from the owners. (Not that they don’t deserve more from the owners as well – but within the pie they negotiate there’s still going to be a very disproportionate distribution if they don’t agree to some kind of salary cap structure.)

Joliet Orange Sox

I can’t imagine the MLBPA would even consider an NBA-like agreement unless the owners provided minimal transparency about their revenue. There are occasional skirmishes in the NBA about BRI and revenue-sharing and such but I think there’s some belief that the financial info shared by NBA teams has some basis in reality. That is not the case with the financial info MLB owners share.