It was certainly a surprise for fans and the media when at gametime Friday night it was announced that Joe Saunders was being replaced as the starting pitcher by Josh Collmenter. It was reported that Saunders couldn't get loose, so after the game, it certainly was the cause for many questions.
Manager Kirk Gibson didn't have much to say, as his pitching coach Charles Nagy came at the last minute telling him that Saunders couldn't go and they decided to go with Collmenter. Said Gibby, "He started to warm up and his shoulder was kind of stiff and he just couldn't get it loose, so we shut him down and went to Collmenter."
Saunders gave pretty much the same story. "Was just one of those weird fluke things where I just couldn't get loose.," he explained after the game. "I don't know if it was...maybe I slept on it wrong. I felt great in my last outing, I felt great in the bullpen session on Wednesday, so I just think this is kind of a fluke thing where it just wouldn't get loose."
He apparently didn't try to work through it much by throwing, as he said threw "not many" pitches before the decision was made.
He had a few tests done, testing his strength, and there was nothing to be concerned about, as he "was off the charts" strengthwise, so he's "not worried about anything structurally."
He speculated that he might just need to take a day or two off, but that he joked he would probably tape himself on his right side tonight while sleeping. The plan after that? "Come in tomorrow and see how I feel," he said.
The whole thing felt a little strange, like it wasn't the whole story. Already speculation had gone around that there is a trade in the works involving Saunders. When Gibson was asked about it, he said, "I have no clue about that right now."
That's understandable. He would definitely not comment on a pending deal.
However, the situation just doesn't feel completely right.
The timeline seems like it could be a little bit off. Josh Collmenter, who made the start in place of Saunders, said, "I found out walking down that I might need to be ready and saw Joe was trying to get loose and you could tell something wasn't quite right."
Saunders didn't throw many pitches, yet Collmenter knew he might have to start and then he saw Saunders throwing. Certainly it is possible that it all fits and there is no evidence otherwise other than it is a strange situation.
But Saunders' name has been swirling around for some time in connection to a possible deal that would bring Kevin Youkilis to Arizona.
The whole thing could be "as dumb and as fluky" as his having slept wrong on his left arm, but there is just enough to question to think there is something else going on. If there is something else, then the one thing that can be said is that Saunders is being a good soldier about it.
Maybe there is a deal all but in place. Maybe there is just the possibility of a deal AND he felt a little stiffness. Perhaps it is just as everyone is saying.
But it is just off enough to make someone think that there might be something more to the story. If there is, we will know soon enough. It doesn't look like it is anything serious enough to cause him to lose time on the disabled list, so it must be either just what was said or some trade in the works or at least perhaps in the works.
All this could be the beginning of a new third baseman and the debut of pitching phenom Trevor Bauer. Or it might not be.
Fluky? Yes. Fishy? A little bit.
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