It’s been a long year for Jimmy Nelson as he tried to work his way back from a freak shoulder injury he suffered while diving back to first base while running the bases against the Chicago Cubs in September 2017.
While it originally seemed like he may have been able to make it back into a competitive game at some point in the 2018 season, his progress plateaued in the middle of the year, and he ended the year without getting into game action — although he was able to get back on the mound to throw live batting practice and bullpen sessions.
Nelson called into MLB Network today to chat with Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds to give an update on how he’s feeling heading into the offseason and looking ahead to the spring.
“It’s been a long process but I’m definitely excited. I ended the rehab process in Arizona in September with live BPs and extended bullpens and everything, and the ball was coming out well. I was very, very pleased with my movement, my command and everything, so now it’s just a matter of ramping it up this offseason and going into spring and being a real person again in Spring Training.”
Yesterday, David Stearns said on WSSP that all health restrictions on Nelson have been lifted, meaning he’ll be able to prepare for the spring like he would any other year, and he’ll be treated like any other pitcher on the roster once he arrives in Maryvale in February.
Nelson is one of the players that needs to be tendered a contract by 7 p.m. today, but considering his salary likely won’t go up since he spent the entire year on the disabled list, he seems like a good bet to be retained (even before Stearns talked about him as though he’ll without question be in camp).
Even if the chains are off for Nelson, it’ll be important to temper expectations. Some amount of rust is to be expected, and that’s before we even get to whether he was due some regression from his 2017 performance (like Chase Anderson saw in 2018) without the injury concerns. It may be best to not count on Nelson before he actually gets on a mound and shows what he can do.