Niemann not expecting to miss regular-season start
RHP Jeff Niemann said the large bloodied blister on the tip of his right middle finger is "a small annoyance" but should not cause him to miss his first regular-season start on April 11 or 12.
Niemann said the blister first surfaced after his last start on Monday at Fort Myers, and he came directly back to the Port Charlotte complex so the trainers could start draining it, but it has been slow to heal. On Tuesday, he said it was "kind of swollen up, kind of infected almost like I couldn't really even move my finger.''
Niemann has been playing catch with the finger taped, and hopes to throw off the mound on Sunday, but obviously doesn't have the feel for the ball he had during the spring. The healing process can require patience.
"The new skin is really soft, it's essentially a scab right now, so anytime I try to throw the last thing we want to do is have it crap or rip again, because that would just kind of put us back at square one,'' he said. "And because this is like a really big one compared to what we usually have to deal with, we just have to be kind of careful with it.''
Though Niemann had to skip Saturday's start, he said it shouldn't impact his preparation for the season since he already threw 95 pitches in a game. "I'm not really worried about the strength being an issue, it's just more about what we were doing on the mound,'' he said. "We felt really good about the way we throwing the ball, so I want to get back up there as soon as possible to get back in that rhythm and feel the things we felt.''
Niemann said he expects to be healed in time for his first start. Manager Joe Maddon said the same, though they planned to have Wade Davis - who lost the final rotation spot to Niemann and was moved to the bullpen - work up to three innings today just to stay stretched out as a backup plan.