Left-hander Adrian Morejon — a standout throughout Spring Training and one of the Padres’ most exciting young arms — exited his start against the Rangers at Globe Life Field on Sunday with a left elbow/forearm strain, the team announced.
Morejon recorded two outs before walking Joey Gallo in the bottom of the first inning. After his penultimate pitch to Gallo, Morejon grimaced on the mound and shook the fingers on his left hand. A batter later, he got a visit from manager Jayce Tingler and a team athletic trainer before he was removed from the game.
Morejon is in his third season with the Padres and his first as a starting pitcher. The team has built him up slowly toward that increased workload. He dealt with a handful of injuries in the past, including a shoulder impingement that cost him the final two months of the 2019 season.
The team has not yet provided a timetable for Morejon’s potential return, only to say that he would be re-evaluated on Monday. If he misses his next start, it would leave the Padres in a bit of a bind for their first series against the Dodgers next weekend. Morejon was in line to start the opener of that three-game set.
That could prompt the return of right-hander Dinelson Lamet, who has been building up slowly at the team’s alternate site this spring. He pitched into the fourth inning Friday, and manager Jayce Tingler indicated that Lamet could make his return this week – though the skipper cautioned that the Padres wouldn’t push Lamet.
Lefty MacKenzie Gore, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top overall pitching prospect, also could replace Morejon. Gore struggled during Spring Training, ultimately losing out on the fifth and final rotation spot in a battle with Morejon. Another option could see lefty Ryan Weathers, the team’s swingman, enter the rotation mix.
Of course, it’s not entirely necessary that the Padres use their replacement starter for that game against the Dodgers on Friday. They could insert another starter into the rotation on Wednesday, pushing Joe Musgrove and Chris Paddack back by a day. That move could help preserve Musgrove after he threw 112 pitches for his no-hitter on Friday. In that scenario, Paddack would start Game 1 vs. L.A.
On Sunday, right-handed reliever Craig Stammen replaced Morejon and worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings – matching his longest appearance with the Padres.