Cleveland Guardians right-handed starter Triston McKenzie has been diagnosed with a strained right teres major muscle in his back and could be sidelined for up to two months, the club announced on Monday evening. He'll be shut down from throwing for at least two weeks and then re-evaluated.
McKenzie exited his Cactus League start against the Reds on Sunday after only one inning with what was described at the time as right arm tightness. An MRI on Monday confirmed the muscle strain in McKenzie's back and ensured that he'd open the 2023 season on the injured list.
The 25-year-old McKenzie is an important part of the rotation for the reigning American League Central champs. Last season, he pitched to a 2.96 ERA and 4.32 K/BB ratio with 190 strikeouts in 191 1/3 innings for Cleveland. For his career, the former first-rounder has an ERA+ of 110 across parts of three MLB seasons. Rotation depth was already a bit of a concern for Terry Francona's squad after you get past Shane Bieber and McKenzie at the front end, and now they'll be without their No. 2 starter for perhaps eight weeks. Hunter Gaddis and Konnor Pilkington would seem to be candidates to slide into the fifth starter's role while McKenzie is sidelined.
The Guardians open the 2023 regular season on Thursday against the Mariners in Seattle.