C.J. Cron left today’s game with back spasms, as the Rockies first baseman was in visible discomfort while slowly leaving the batter’s box after a pop-up in the third inning. Cron took only a few steps before stopping completely, and Mike Moustakas took over for Cron at first base when the Rox took the field in the top of the fourth. Following the game, manager Bud Black told The Denver Gazette’s Danielle Allentuck and other reporters that Cron will probably require a trip to the 10-day injured list.
Back spasms also cost Cron 10 days of Cactus League action during Spring Training, and it’s fair to wonder if this issue (whether a lingering injury or a by-product of missed spring time) has contributed to Cron’s slow start to the season. It could be that another 10-day absence or so is all Cron needs to recover, though since this is his second such injury in two months, the Rockies might opt to give him a bit of extra time beyond the minimum 10 days in order to fully get himself right.
The veteran first baseman has hit a modest .228/.277/.426 with six homers over 148 plate appearances for Colorado, and his 73 wRC+ is easily his lowest in any of his 10 Major League seasons. Cron is still making a lot of hard contact and his .342 xwOBA is well above his .306 wOBA, so there is some element of misfortune involved in his numbers. However, Cron is pulling the ball a lot more than in past years, and opposing pitchers are throwing him fewer four-seamers (a pitch Cron has generally hit well over the years) less than usual. Most of the right-handed hitting Cron’s struggles have come against right-handed pitching this year, even though Cron has had relatively even splits for most of his career.
Moustakas is the likeliest candidate to fill in for Cron at first base, at least in the short term. Moustakas has also had a tough year, hitting .232/.313/.375 over 67 PA with just one home run.