Next October, maybe Matt Cain starts against Michael Wacha in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series. Or perhaps Luke Hochevar is summoned to face Matt Wieters in the ALCS opener.
This year, though, they can only watch.
Injuries are a part of every season, plus the postseason. And every team now playing — Giants, Cardinals, Royals and Orioles — has been banged up at some point.
"I would have loved to have been a part of that on the field, but at the same time the ultimate goal is to win the World Series. Whatever it takes to get there," said Wieters, Baltimore's three-time All-Star catcher.
"It hurts to be sitting on sideline, but at the same time it feels way better if we keep playing well, the way we are now," he said.
The Orioles begin the ALCS against Kansas City tonight minus Wieters and one of baseball's best young stars, 22-year-old third baseman Manny Machado.
Wieters played 26 games before needing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Machado, an All-Star and Gold Glover last year, was hobbled by knee problems before an operation ended his season.
Hochevar has spent his entire career with Kansas City since being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft. He excelled last year in his first full season as a reliever, but needed Tommy John surgery after getting hurt in spring training.
Cain is a three-time All-Star who pitched a perfect game for San Francisco in 2012, when the Giants won their second World Series crown in three seasons. Bothered by bone chips in his elbow, he didn't play past the All-Star break and was shut down.
Wacha could still be a factor when St. Louis takes on the Giants. He was the NLCS MVP last year as a rookie, but shoulder problems slowed him this season and the 23-year-old righty is in the bullpen. He didn't pitch when the Cardinals beat the Dodgers in the NL Division Series.
Though out of action, Wieters has already contributed in the postseason. Manager Buck Showalter sent him to scout the Tigers in late September, and his reports helped the O's beat Detroit in the ALDS.
This weekend, he'll sit as rookie Caleb Joseph and midseason acquisition Nick Hundley do the catching for Baltimore.
"It's tough, but it's easier when the guys keep playing as they are and we keep winning. With Caleb and Nick back there, this team is playing as well as it's capable of playing right now," Wieters said. "Then I can kind of sit back and say they were the right guys for the job right now."
The Orioles and Royals have been waiting nearly a week to begin their AL Championship Series.
They may have to wait one more day.
The forecast for Friday night in Baltimore is for 100 percent chance of rain — a quarter to a half-inch, according to the National Weather Service — when Game 1 is scheduled to be played. A light rain is expected to begin after 2 p.m. EDT and pick up a bit when Baltimore's Chris Tillman takes the mound for the first pitch at 8:07 p.m.
Royals scheduled starter James Shields is ready for anything.
"You kind of have to go with the flow," he said.
Should the game be rained out, the opener would likely be pushed to Saturday and Game 2 would take place Sunday, currently a travel day.
START ME UP
If there's a spot where one team might have a decided edge in the NL Championship Series, it could be at the top of the lineup.
Two-time All-Star Matt Carpenter, with his feisty at-bats and .375 on-base percentage for St. Louis this season, has established himself as one of baseball's best leadoff hitters.
San Francisco, meanwhile, is missing its regular leadoff man because Angel Pagan is out with a back injury. Gregor Blanco has struggled in his place, going 2 for 22 in the playoffs after batting .213 from the No. 1 spot during the regular season, the second-lowest mark in the majors.
Carpenter led the NL with 95 walks this year and turned on the power once the postseason started, hitting a home run and a double in each of the first three NLDS games against the Dodgers. He knocked in seven runs during the series and scored four more.
Keeping him quiet will be an important task for Giants pitchers — but not an easy one.
"He doesn't get intimidated by a situation or by the circumstances that he's in," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I used to be horrible. It was one of the things early on in my career that I was just awful at it. ... I was young and immature and didn't know any better, to tell you the truth." — Baltimore Game 1 starter Chris Tillman, on giving his catchers a better chance to throw out would-be basestealers.
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