We have our first (confirmed) long-term injury of the spring, and oh boy is it ever a stupid one. Michael Kopech, one of Boston's top pitching prospects, is walking around Fort Myers with a cast on his right hand because, as Rob Bradford reports, he fractured it in "an altercation with a teammate." It's not yet clear whether he'll be able to pitch again before the season is over.
Kopech, you may remember, is the prospect who was suspended for 50 games last season after testing positive for Oxilofrine, a banned stimulant. The good news is that he's four months too early to make "Michael Kopech attempts to ruin his career" an annual tradition. Unless he's not particularly strict about dates.
For the Red Sox proper, this means nothing, assuming the teammate in question wasn't on the 40-man roster and we're not waiting to hear how Kopech knocked them out for the season. Kopech wasn't likely to start the year in shooting distance--whoops, wrong stupid prospect injury--wasn't likely to start the year close enough to the majors to make an impact.
For the Red Sox as an organization? Well, it's certainly not great. Kopech didn't enter the top tier of Red Sox prospects--the quartet of Moncada, Benintendi, Devers, and Espinoza--but he is widely seen as leading the rest of the pack. Last year's suspension was a dark mark, but an isolated one. If it had stayed that way, eventually it would be forgotten.
But now we've got a pattern of problematic behavior. You can look at this in purely baseball terms. Kopech is missing time, be it for suspensions or fighting injuries, and that's obviously bad for his development as a player and his ability to contribute to the team. But it's not just about baseball. Kopech is proving to be the kind of guy you don't want to have around your baseball team. A player hurting himself doing something stupid is one thing. By fighting a teammate he can take out two birds with one stone.
We obviously don't know the circumstances of the incident, though Mike Hazen has generously confirmed that it was, in fact, "stupid." There's nothing Kopech's done that can't have an explanation which leaves Kopech coming out if not looking great than at least not looking completely terrible. We should want him to succeed both because he's a part of the Red Sox organization, and because he is, to most of us, a largely unknown human being. But with two concerning incidents in less than a year, it's getting harder to have faith that he's going to manage to get out of his own way.