They say baseball can be a very cruel game. For LA Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy this statement cannot be any more truthful.
On Sunday, July 7th the LA Angels were playing the Houston Astros in the last game before the All-Star Break. With the score tied at 10, Lucroy stood in to take a throw from Kole Calhoun in hopes of nailing the Astros’ Jake Marisnick at the plate who was trying to break the tie.
What happened next many of you already know. Marisnick ploughed Lucroy, breaking his nose and giving him a concussion. This was in addition to all the pain Lucroy and all the Angels were feeling with the death of friend and teammate Tyler Skaggs less than a week before the injury. Lucroy had surgery a week later to repair his fractured nose and once the concussion symptoms subsided, he went to work to get back to the majors.
Just when Lucroy seemed to be back where he belonged, the baseball gods dealt him a cruel twist of fate as Friday morning the Angels designated Jonathan Lucroy for assignment (DFA) in favor of newly acquired catcher Max Stassi. With Lucroy being DFA’d the Angels have seven days to try and trade him or he will be released from the team. The Angels will still have to pay Lucroy’s remaining salary regardless.
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Lucroy had just worked his way back to the majors within the last week. Lucroy started an injury rehab assignment for the Single-A Inland Empire 66ers on Saturday, July 27th and played two games for the Sixers before being pronounced ready to return. On Wednesday, July 31st just over three weeks after the injury had occured, Lucroy took the field with his Angel teammates as they finished their seven-game homestand with a 9-1 loss against the Tigers. For his part Lucroy went two for four with a double, but it wasn’t enough to help the Angels win and ultimately it wasn’t enough to save Lucroy’s starting catcher job with the Angels either.
Still all seemed right in the world that Lucroy was able to come back from what looked to be a horrific looking injury just 24 days prior. Lucroy said he was excited to be back and was looking forward to helping the team in their push for a wild-card spot.
“I’m just glad to be able to be back with the guys tomorrow (Wednesday). We are not done yet. We just have to keep fighting, keep grinding,” Lucroy said. “It’s been a tough stretch. The breaks haven’t gone our way as of late, but that can change tomorrow. We are a talented team and we are not going to give up.”
There were rumors that Lucroy could be traded at the trade deadline for some prospects, but they did not materialize. The only significant move the Angels made was acquiring back-up catcher Max Stassi from Houston, which seemed to be a move to give the Angels more of a defensive presence behind the plate. Little did we or Lucroy know that the move would send Lucroy packing.
Looking back on what Lucroy said that things could change tomorrow. For Lucroy it definitely did, just not in the way he would have liked, but as was said earlier baseball can be cruel game. For Jonathan Lucroy he just found out how true this old baseball adage is.