What would a weekend be without more names to add to the walking wounded in baseball? There were a couple of hit-by-pitches and a couple of strains and tweaks here and there. But it wasn't until Monday afternoon when we got the biggest news of the weekend, an injury that took everyone, even the player himself, by surprise.
David Wright, 3B, New York Mets: ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin reports that New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson announced that Wright has a stress fracture in his low back. The fracture was discovered when Wright was evaluated at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York on Monday. Alderson indicated that Wright would be seeking a second opinion but that the planned course of treatment was, quite simply, rest. Alderson said of Wright's reaction upon learning of his injury, "David himself was surprised by it."
At this point, there is not much further detail and we are awaiting the outcome of Wright's second opinion. But generally speaking, these injuries are typically treated with rest and once the pain associated with the fracture resolves, the athlete can resume activity based on comfort. While it sounds dramatic, this is potentially far less threatening than a serious soft tissue injury such as an ACL or rotator cuff tear. Bone, once healed, is exceptionally strong. The key is allowing the bone to fully heal, which is why proper rest, to avoid excessive movement in the injured area, is critical. Expect Wright to be sidelined for several weeks, but naturally we will update his condition as more information becomes available.
Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals: He's a machine, after all, so we should not expect Pujols to break just because he was hit by a Francisco Cordero fastball on his lead forearm. It looked painful Sunday as Pujols grasped his wrist and went to his knees in pain, but Pujols was able to carry on. As Pujols told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "It's going to take more than this to pull me down." The injury is being called a bruised left wrist and the plan was for him to seek X-rays only if he developed more swelling and soreness overnight.
Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves: It would be hard not to root for Jones after he took what could have been an entree into retirement and turned it into motivation to return for another season. Not only was he physically ready to go at the start of the spring following a second ACL reconstruction on his left knee, he has been fairly consistent. So naturally it's disappointing to learn that Jones' other knee is now giving him trouble.
Jones reportedly has a small meniscus tear in his right knee, which has been causing him discomfort, as those things are wont to do. In an effort to avoid midseason surgery, Jones received a cortisone injection and is resting the knee for a few days to see how it responds. If he is unable to play through it, he will yield to an arthroscopic procedure that could cause him to miss a few weeks. This really comes down to how well he can function in the presence of the injury. Tears of the meniscus do not heal themselves, but depending on the size and location, they may not prevent an athlete from continuing to play. Of course, that can change at any time, particularly if the tear increases in dimension or creates mechanical limitations that continue to irritate the joint. In other words, even if Jones is able to play through the injury for the time being, fantasy owners should be prepared that it could be problematic down the road.
Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians: It seemed inevitable that Sizemore would revisit the disabled list after he jammed his right knee on a hard slide into second base last week. He underwent an MRI and the team confirmed afterward that Sizemore had a right knee contusion (deep bruise) and he has been out of the lineup ever since. According to AP reports, Sizemore indicated the bruise was to his kneecap. Bone bruises, even mild ones, can be painful and a bit slow to resolve. It should come as no big surprise then that the Indians decided to place him on the DL on Monday, retroactive to May 11, to extend his recovery window. Although he had been resuming some baseball activities over the past few days, including hitting in the batting cage and some light drills, the soreness in his knee persisted.
There is no reason to rush Sizemore back. It is well known that Sizemore is coming off a microfracture procedure in his left knee, which required many months of rehabilitation and an easing into the 2011 season. Beyond the obvious risk of pushing his right knee when it is not feeling 100 percent healthy, there is the increased risk of Sizemore compromising his left knee if he alters his gait in any way to compensate. With a history of significant cartilage damage in his left knee, the hope is that Sizemore's right one does not suffer a similar fate.
Aroldis Chapman, P, Cincinnati Reds: Chapman has been placed on the DL due to shoulder inflammation, according to the Reds' official website. There were signs in mid-April that this could happen, and at that time, he was held out for a few days because of inflammation in his shoulder. While his velocity returned, he continued to struggle with his command and the shoulder issue may have played a big part. In early May, there was talk from manager Dusty Baker about the lengthy time Chapman required to get loose before entering a game. There was discussion about Chapman's mechanics. In hindsight, perhaps these were reflections of an underlying issue. It's hard to be surprised about a shoulder or elbow issue in a flamethrower like Chapman. The hope is that this is truly just a minor setback that will respond to some extended rest.
Shane Victorino, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: Last week, when talking about Utley's near return, I mentioned that Victorino (along with Rollins and Polanco) had not yet had a day off. Now that's been forced to change. Victorino strained his right hamstring Saturday and was out of the lineup Sunday. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Victorino will be out until at least Wednesday when the Phillies begin a homestand against the Colorado Rockies. While the team does not think this injury will warrant a trip to the DL, it's no secret that hamstring strains, even the very mild variety, can be tricky. Those that seem minor can quickly act up when an athlete pushes full speed and Victorino is not going to be jogging in the outfield. Fantasy owners should not be surprised if this return timeline gets extended.
Adam Lind, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays: He's still not in the lineup, but he's not on the disabled list, either. Consider this a sign that Lind could make an appearance soon, especially since he reported feeling much improved after Sunday's drills. Lind has been dealing with back spasms for more than a week. Initially it appeared he had improved enough to play in this past weekend's series against the Minnesota Twins, but he was scratched Friday after developing some pregame tightness. Manager John Farrell pointed out that Lind was not sitting around during the game. "He went through a full two hours of treatment, exercises and rehab," said Farrell, adding that the team had hoped to have him back in the lineup Monday. According to the Toronto Sun, Lind was surprised to not be playing Monday after an uneventful Sunday workout. "I'm a little disappointed," Lind said. "I went hard today."
Perhaps after Friday's setback, the team wants to see how Lind feels a full 24 hours after his workout before committing him to the lineup. If all continues well, it appears the Blue Jays will consider getting him back in the groove shortly as he has avoided the DL thus far.
Don't look now, but there might be a couple of players sneaking back into the lineup this week. Can they be counted on for immediate production?
Rafael Furcal, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers: Furcal is now on a rehab assignment as he inches closer to returning to the Dodgers' lineup after missing time with a broken left thumb. His final hurdle is batting right-handed without any discomfort. Furcal, who can hit from both sides of the plate, has been hitting well in rehab games but initially hit only from the left side. Right-handed swinging was originally causing mild discomfort, but after two right-handed at-bats Sunday night, the hope is that this is resolving. Furcal will face a left-handed starter Monday night and have another opportunity to test his thumb. Manager Don Mattingly is not interested in returning Furcal to a situation in which he is less than 100 percent healthy. Equally important is Furcal's confidence that he is past the injury. His productivity at the plate will be compromised if he is at all tentative in his swing. Mattingly indicated he would like Furcal to get 25 to 30 at-bats before rejoining the team. If he continues to progress well, it could signal his return late this week.
Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves: Last week, Heyward sat out several games after experiencing numbness in his right hand and forearm and soreness in his right (non-throwing) shoulder. Since that time, Heyward has undergone an MRI, which showed inflammation in his shoulder, and he received a cortisone injection. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Heyward took his first swings Sunday since being sidelined with the injury, hitting off a tee and saying he hoped to take full-scale batting practice Monday. Heyward reported the shoulder felt improved and hinted at a Tuesday return to the lineup. The good news is that this is the first time Heyward has reported feeling better since he made an early exit in last Tuesday's game. The unknown is whether this issue will be truly behind him or whether it will crop up again later. After all, Heyward indicated the shoulder has been problematic intermittently since spring training, resulting in an inconsistent swing. Until he returns to hitting on a regular basis, it will be hard to assess just how much progress he has made.