It's never good when a pitcher throws just three pitches before having to be taken out, but that's exactly what happened to Josh Kauten earlier this week, when a strained side muscle forced him to come out of the game. Kauten was diagnosed with a strained intercostal muscle in his left side, and while the muscle strain is not serious, it's likely wise that the ‘Caps are giving Kauten some time to rest. But it's doubtful he'll be out long, as he'll be staying with West Michigan through his rehab.
Kauten isn't the only starter leaving West Michigan's rotation, but the other move isn't due to injury. Instead, Randor Bierd has been so impressive that he's been called up just six weeks into the season, but not just to Lakeland. Bierd in fact is skipping the high-A level, and will jump right into AA Erie's rotation, making his first start sometime this weekend. This is a huge promotion for someone as young as Bierd, but it shows the amount of confidence the Tigers apparently have in the 21-year old out of the Dominican Republic.
Bierd isn't even the only new member of Erie's rotation surprisingly enough, as he'll be joined in the promotion with a member of Lakeland's rotation. Virgil Vasquez, arguably the most polished starter of the L-Tigers group, has been promoted as well and he'll be jumping into the SeaWolves' rotation.
Of course, with all these pitchers moving around, you are probably wondering where are the replacements coming from. Well, the Whitecaps have already announced who will be filling out their rotation after their subtractions. Reliever Matt Righter will move back into the rotation, and get his second start of the season on Saturday.
The other replacement will come via the disabled list, as Josh Rainwater has been activated and will jump into the rotation to kick off his belated start into full season baseball. Rainwater suffered a knee injury in spring training and started the year on West Michigan's disabled list, but is all healed up now and is ready to go, hoping to improve on last season after he struggled with his conditioning, and struggled with his performance on the mound.
Erie of course now appears to be a bit crowded with six rotation members, and Humberto Sanchez looming in the background and hoping to be ready to go in the next few weeks, there appears to now be a backup there. But as of now, no moves have been made yet, though Nate Cornejo would likely be the first one to get the bump up to Toledo where he can get a stiffer challenge after likely over-matching younger and inexperienced hitters in the AA Eastern League.
Some are still hoping to see a promotion for Rob Henkel, and while that may still yet happen later on in the year, the Tigers want to give him every opportunity to show that he's healthy, against competition he's already faced, before putting him up at a higher level.