Eric Chavez suffered his injury during the first game of yesterday's contest against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, on the first pitch of his at-bat. Though he stayed in the game, the second pitch proved too much, and immediately walked off the field and went into the visitors' dugout. Manager Kirk Gibson said, "He did something on the first swing and said he was OK, but on the second swing, there was something going on there." The team announced shortly afterward that Chavez had suffered a strained right oblique, and Gibson said the infielder was heading back to Phoenix for an MRI to determine the scope of the damage.
Chavez had been one of the engines driving our offense, hitting .325/.368/.588, with seven HR and 25 RBI - second in both categories only to Paul Goldschmidt - in 126 plate-appearances. The injury to Aaron Hill pressed Chavez into playing third-base more frequently than had been expected. As noted in yesterday's preview, it was already his 27th start at third, almost half the tally (56 non-DH starts) all last year with the Yankees. Was that perhaps a factor in his injury? Hard to say, but the last time Chavez had more than the 16 starts he reached this month with the D-backs, was April 2010 - and those were mostly as DH. You're looking at June 2008 for that many starts at third.
Willie Bloomquist strained his oblique near the end of spring training, and wasn't able to break camp with the team. After some rest, he gradually worked his way back through extended spring training, and started a rehab assignment with the Reno Aces on May 24th. He had been tearing it up there, reaching base safely twice in each of the four games played there, going 7-for-15 with eight runs driven in, and a walk and a strikeout. However, he would probably have been left down there a little while longer, if not for the sudden need forced upon the team by the loss of Bloomquist.
Quite how the team will shape up in Chavez's absence remains to be seen. Bloomquist was playing mostly at 2B for Reno, so he could take over there and let Martin Prado return to third-base, the role for which the D-backs originally signed him. Bloomquist could play 3B - he made 11 starts there last season for Arizona - but it's definitely not his natural position, with those being almost all his work there since 2007. Gibson wouldn't be drawn: "He could play anywhere. Where do we need him? Who's hurt? Who's not hurt? Who needs a day off? I just want him to have the opportunity to be able to move around, play short, second or left field." Left-field? Yeah. About that...
Willie is not in the lineup for today's game against the Cubs. According to Steve Gilbert, Willie's plane was supposed to arrive at 10:00 last night in Chicago, but instead landed at 4 AM. Air travel, someone should do stand-up routines about it!
All told, it seems reasonable to see this as a moderate blow to the Diamondbacks: Bloomquist certainly won't be able to match the kind of offense Chavez provided, and Eric showed flashes he was the six-time Gold Glover at the position as well. He provided a power-threat against right-handed pitching which neither Miguel Montero nor Jason Kubel have been able to follow of late, so he'll be missed. Hopefully, the return of Aaron Hill - recently cleared to begin some hitting activities - won't be all that far off.