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Monday, April 28, 2014
Injury capsules: Chris Davis, Bryce Harper

By Stephania Bell

As the injury news pours in this season, we'll take a quick-hit look at the fantasy-relevant players who are battling health issues. We'll be splitting them up into players on whom we're keeping a watchful eye -- players who have sustained injuries recently but have not been placed on the disabled list -- as well as those who have officially been placed on the DL.

To the DL

Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals (left thumb): Blame it on the headfirst slide ... again. The technique has once again forced a player to the DL with a thumb injury; this time, third base was the culprit. Harper made a dive toward third Friday night to beat the throw on a triple, jamming his thumb into the bag in the process.

Harper
Bryce Harper jammed his thumb executing a head-first slide into third base.
While initial X-rays were reported negative, the swelling associated with Harper’s injury was enough to render his thumb unable to grip a bat for a while. The injury ultimately resulted in a DL stint and a visit with Dr. Thomas Graham, a noted hand specialist in Cleveland, is planned for Monday.

The move is not surprising. Even if this remains a nonsurgical situation, he will need to allow adequate time for the injured soft tissue to heal and not risk any potential instability by doing too much too soon. There is a likelihood of this requiring more than the minimum 15 days, depending on the degree of injury, to ensure it does not remain a season-long problem.

Last season, Harper was resistant to the DL while dealing with prepatellar (kneecap) bursitis and limped through it for a month before eventually being sidelined. That ailment continued to plague him intermittently through the season, and ultimately required offseason surgery. At least this time there won’t be daily questions about his status or whether he can play effectively while injured and hopefully, when he returns, it will be at or near 100 percent health.

Chris Davis, 1B, Baltimore Orioles (left oblique): Davis left Friday’s game early with an injury to his left side, and a subsequent MRI confirmed an oblique injury. Manager Buck Showalter already has indicated Davis is likely to miss more than the minimum 15 days, which is not unusual for this type of injury.

The oft-cited (at least in this blog) study examining average DL stays for players with oblique injuries, published in March 2012 in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (abstract here), reports a 26.7-day average absence for position players. It’s interesting to note that most oblique injuries occur on the contralateral side (opposite the batter’s hitting side), but they certainly can happen on the same (ipsilateral) side. If there’s a positive finding here, the study noted that position players tended to return a week sooner on average from ipsilateral versus contralateral injuries.

Davis said he was feeling better the day after the injury but players often do feel better fairly quickly ... until they pick up a bat. These injuries are also easily aggravated, so the team will undoubtedly proceed with caution when it comes to resuming full-force swings.