When Travis Jankowski was placed on the 10-day disabled list on April 23rd, the injury was listed as a bone bruise, presumably from fouling a ball off his foot. If the phrase “bone bruise” sounds familiar, it’s because that’s what Jon Jay was initially diagnosed with when he first hit the DL last year after being hit by a pitch. Jon Jay was later diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his radius, and there’s suspicion that Jankowski may have a hairline fracture in his foot.
Apparently these things can be tough to diagnose. The inflammation that occurs after the injury can obscure fine details like hairline fractures in X-rays and MRIs, so it’s understandable that the team is uncertain on the severity of the injury. He’s going to be in a boot for 7-10 days before being re-examined, and if the injury is resolved at that time there will still need to be some rehab time to get his mobility and strength back. If a fracture is there, Jankowski could be out much longer. A fleet-footed speedster needs fully healthy feet to be productive.
With Jankowski off the roster for the time being, the only player with any MLB experience in centerfield is now Manuel Margot. Allen Cordoba and Cory Spangenberg have seen limited time there, but it’s a key position where reps are needed. Franchy Cordero is the only other player on the 40-man roster with much experience there at any level, and while he looked good during spring training, he’s struggling to remain above the Mendoza line in AAA El Paso. Nick Buss, Rafel Ortega, and Colin Cowgill are all with Cordero in El Paso, and each of them has MLB experience in center and are off to good starts, but PCL stats need to be taken with a grain of salt.
Leftfield hasn’t been a position of strength either lately. Alex Dickerson has been on the 60-day DL since the end of March with back issues and has been cleared to begin cardio and light lifting, but he’s a long way from game shape. The Margot-Renfroe-Dickerson-Jankowski outfield we were all so excited about has been a mixed bag of success and disappointment. With half of those names on the shelf, we’re stuck with Jabari Blash and Allen Cordoba filling in. Blash is an adventure on defense and hasn’t proved to be a threat at the plate. Cordoba has been surprisingly good in the field wherever he’s placed, and he got hot at the plate, but now he’s in a 1-for-15 slump over the last six games. If Jankowski is out for more than a few weeks, the team may look to make a move to fortify a very thin situation in the outfield. Manuel Margot has been a stud, but it’s ambitious to expect a rookie to start every single game with little relief. Blash and Cordoba in LF isn’t a long-term situation.
Ortega, Cowgill, and Buss all represent potential fits as backup outfielders. All can play all three positions and any should be an upgrade in leftfield over Blash or Cordoba. Nick Schulz is quietly putting up a very nice season in San Antonio and could earn a promotion to see what the almost-26-year-old can do in leftfield under the bright lights. Regardless, any internal option won’t hold up to what we were hoping for from our talented outfield entering spring training.