Posted on June 28, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The injury situation for the Los Angeles Angels only seems to be getting worse. The club announced Wednesday night that third baseman Zack Cozart will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The Angels didn’t give a timetable for his return. However, the usual timeframe for labrum surgery, even for a non-throwing shoulder, is at least six months. Thus, the surgery will effectively end Cozart’s 2018 season.
Cozart initially went to the DL on June 15 with what the team called “left shoulder subluxation.” He hurt his shoulder a couple dies prior to that while diving to field a ground ball. Cozart recently tried to resume taking batting and fielding practice but continued to feel discomfort. After getting a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, Cozart decided to undergo the surgery.
“I think this has been battling him on and off for a little bit, I mean in previous years,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after Wednesday’s loss to the Red Sox. “It got to the point where something needs to be done, and for Zack, it’s the best course of action, for our organization the best course of action, and he’ll be 100 percent for next year.”
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The Angels signed Cozart to a three-year, $38 million contract over the winter. However, he’s not had his best offensive season. Cozart will finish the year hitting just .219 with an OPS of .658. How much his left shoulder may have hampered him before he went to the DL earlier this month remains unclear.
However, Cozart’s defensive flexibility did prove valuable to the Angels. Cozart agreed to move to third base when he signed with the Angels after spending his entire career at shortstop. With both Andrelton Simmons and Ian Kinsler spending time on the DL this year, the Angels have been able to use Cozart at both shortstop and second base as needed.
With Cozart out for the season, Luis Valbuena and rookie David Fletcher will continue to share duties at third base. Valbuena has seen a decline in his power numbers this season. He’s also hitting just .216 with an OPS of .628. Fletcher, however, as shown some promise, going 7 for 23 in his first 11 big league games. He was hitting .350 with an OPS of .953 at triple-A before his promotion, albeit in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
Amidst all of their injuries, the Angels have lost five games in a row. They are just one game over .500 and have fallen behind the Oakland A’s into fourth place in the AL West and nine games out of a wild-card spot. However, if the Angels feel they still have a chance to reach the postseason, they could explore trade options at third base.
Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Adrian Beltre of the Rangers are two possible options. The Royals have already proven to be open for business and the Rangers may be soon as well. Brandon Drury of the Yankees is also an intriguing option. Drury has fallen out of favor and is currently in the minors. However, he proved himself to be a productive hitter with the Diamondbacks the past two seasons. He also has three more years of arbitration. The Angels could bring him in to place third base and then either move him or Cozart to second base next year when Kinsler becomes a free agent.
Of course, in the short term, the loss of Cozart for the season is another setback for the Angels. The Halos showed such promise early in the year. But they have once again been foiled by a string of injuries. Losing Cozart isn’t exactly the straw that broke the camel’s back. But it certainly doesn’t help the Angels find a way to salvage their season.