Chase Headley, the 2012 National League RBI leader, may miss only the first two weeks of the season for the San Diego Padres with a broken thumb, but it's the latest setback -- if only a small one -- for a team that some believed had the potential to be one of the surprises in the National League.
Hard-throwing right-hander Andrew Cashner, expected to be in the team's rotation, had offseason thumb surgery after he lacerated a tendon when he was stabbed with a knife by a friend in a hunting accident.
Top pitching prospect Casey Kelly, also battling for a rotation spot, may have to undergo Tommy John surgery after injuring his elbow last week.
Outfielder Rymer Liriano, one of the team's top position prospects, hurt his elbow in February and had Tommy John surgery and will miss the season.
This on the heels of the Tommy John surgeries last season on Cory Luebke, who had developed into one of best young pitchers in the league, and Joe Wieland, who had looked promising in five major league starts.
Catcher Yasmani Grandal, who hit .297/.394/.469 in 60 games as a rookie, was suspended for the first 50 games for using testosterone. (OK, that's not bad luck as much as stupidity.)
Anyway, you get the idea. It's been a rough nine months for the Padres. A year ago, the Padres were looking at a potential 2013 rotation of Luebke, Kelly, Cashner, Wieland and Edinson Volquez. Now we'll see Jason Marquis, Eric Stults and maybe A's castoff Tyson Ross.
Meanwhile, the Padres traded away Mat Latos and Anthony Rizzo to acquire Grandal (and Yonder Alonso) and Cashner. Latos and Rizzo look like future All-Stars, guys you could build a playoff contender around. It's way too early to make a call on those trades, but so far those deals haven't gone San Diego's way.
There is still surprise potential here, especially if Luebke and Wieland can return at some point and contribute to what looks like a shaky rotation. After all, the Padres went 42-33 in the second half with a makeshift rotation. While the lineup is underrated and the bullpen pretty solid, I still have trouble seeing a team with a rotation fronted by Clayton Richard as a playoff contender.
But you never know. Hopefully Headley will miss just the first two weeks and come out hammering like he did in the second half and help make the Padres interesting.