Every Monday in this space, we'll provide updates on a variety of players to help you make your weekly lineup decisions. We'll specifically try to hit the players who are day-to-day, have just gone on the DL or are ready to return, so that you can better decide whether you can count on them or not.
All projected return timelines should be considered fluid.
Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees (day-to-day): Ever since Teixeira sustained a partial tear in the tendon sheath on his right wrist during spring training, there was always the concern that even if he were able to return to play, the injury could linger or worsen. I expressed that concern in my preseason injury blog: "Teixeira's wrist may heal with rest, but if it doesn't, the power on the left side of the plate won't be there, and he may not last long, either."
It certainly seems that is the case now. Teixeira was removed from Saturday's game in the fourth inning, not so much because of a specific incident that aggravated the injury, but because of continuing discomfort and weakness. According to ESPN New York, an MRI on Sunday revealed inflammation in the area, but no new tear. Teixeira received a cortisone shot and will sit out for a few days. No move to the disabled list is specifically planned, though it has not been ruled out.
The bigger issue for the Yankees is what they can expect from Teixeira going forward. Manager Joe Girardi's comments from Saturday evening were very telling. "He came to us and said he just feels like there's not a lot of strength there," Girardi said. "I think he just doesn't feel he has the whip that he normally has hitting left-handed." Since the injury is to Teixeira's right wrist, the strain on the injured sheath is greatest when he bats from the left side of the plate, which is also how he hurt himself in the first place. If his strength is impaired and the wrist remains irritated months after sustaining the original injury, not to mention after having nearly two full months off, it's hard to envision it improving significantly now. It's possible the "S" word (surgery) could start to enter the conversation.
YoukilisKevin Youkilis, 3B, Yankees (placed on DL June 14): Well, you can tack on some more time to the 33 days Youkilis has already spent on the disabled list this season because of his back ailment, plus the additional week of intermittent days to rest it. The Yankees placed him on the DL again Friday after the stiffness in his back recurred and did not show evidence of subsiding. This is hardly a surprise, as Youkilis has been dealing with chronic back issues for quite some time; the only unknown was whether he would go weeks or months before it flared. Given that the interval of playing time was so short between DL stints, it must be more of a concern going forward.
AvilaAlex Avila, C, Detroit Tigers (placed on DL June 17): Avila was clearly in a great deal of pain after taking a 93 mph pitch off his left forearm Sunday, and he will now be out for at least two weeks. According to Mlive.com, initial X-rays revealed no fracture, but more tests have been scheduled. Although the results of those tests aren't yet known (or haven't been shared), the team clearly felt Avila needed to be removed from possible contact. As a catcher, that area of his body is certainly at risk defensively, probably more so than a player at another position. No timetable has been released by the team, but it could vary depending on whether there is a true structural injury versus a deep contusion or bruise.
CabreraEverth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres (day-to-day): It's not just the outfielders who must contend with hamstring injuries; shortstops have been falling victim to them lately as well. Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez recently returned from the disabled list after missing a month with the injury and is still on controlled playing time. Now Cabrera may be headed there as well. This is not good news for the Padres or for fantasy owners who were counting on him in the stolen base category.
After getting hurt Sunday while trying to steal yet another base, Cabrera has been scheduled for further evaluation of his left hamstring. Although the results have not yet been reported, Cabrera had the sound of someone who knew from prior experience that this was not good. According to the Padres' official website, Cabrera said, "I knew something was wrong right away. I have experience with hamstring problems, and this one is unfortunate." Fantasy owners should be prepared for a DL stint.
HarperBryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals (placed on DL retroactive to May 27): Last week in this space, I said it would be a little optimistic to expect Harper to come off the disabled list when eligible, especially given that he was traveling to Florida for consultation with Dr. James Andrews. He likely won't be off it this week, either, although he is reportedly making some progress after receiving a cortisone and a PRP injection.
According to the Washington Post, manager Davey Johnson said he expects Harper to test the knee with some on-field activities early in the week, then potentially begin a rehab assignment later in the week. Of course, everything depends on how Harper's knee responds to the uptick in work. If all goes well, it sounds like the Nationals could be eyeing a return in the not-too-distant future, but considering Harper's path has been a little bumpy so far, no timetable can be set in stone.
KempMatt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (placed on DL May 30): The Dodgers finally got Hanley Ramirez back from a substantial hamstring injury, but Kemp, whose injury was relatively minor by all accounts, was not able to return when eligible … and it's not looking as if he'll return this week, either.
Kemp looked as if he was inching closer to rejoining his teammates when he did some pregame running work with them last weekend. He was still experiencing symptoms, however, which led to the Dodgers pushing back more aggressive activity. A rehab assignment date remains fluid, although it could begin late this week if Kemp is showing signs of progress.
There is little doubt that Kemp's major setback to his opposite hamstring after trying to return too soon last year is likely causing some apprehension this time around. And his performance at the plate certainly hasn't been encouraging. Fantasy owners should not plan on having Kemp available this week, and even if next week starts to look like a possibility, it might be worth waiting to see how he performs first.
BraunRyan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (placed on DL June 10): It finally happened. Braun ended up on the disabled list because of his chronic thumb issues, even though last week the Brewers indicated it might not do much to change the symptoms. Still, resting can't hurt, and Braun had already been held out of multiple games before the decision was made to formally place him there.
It sounds as if the Brewers expect him to resume playing in the presence of the symptoms, even if they remain unresolved when the DL window is up. The only problem there is that even if they don't expect the injury to worsen, there's no guarantee his power at the plate will return, at least on a consistent basis. Braun acknowledged that the thumb was bothering him enough to affect his performance, even after trying to make adjustments to his grip. It sounds as if Braun might return when eligible, but whether he's the Braun fantasy owners have come to expect is anybody's guess.
HillAaron Hill, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks (placed on DL April 15, could return this week): Could Hill finally rejoin his team this week, even if the fracture that sent him to the DL in April hasn't fully healed? It does appear that this is possible, although manager Kirk Gibson won't commit to a return date, preferring instead to wait and see how Hill performs and how his hand tolerates games. According to Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com, Gibson said, "When he starts to get comfortable, we'll start talking about a return date."
When it was discovered that Hill had a non-union fracture in his hand, the plan became to try to progress his activity to see how well he could function despite the condition and any associated discomfort. So far, so good. Good enough, in fact, for the Diamondbacks to allow Hill to progress from a simulated game to a rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno. Hill played seven innings Saturday for Reno and will be in line for more innings early this week. It is not clear how many rehab games he will require before he's ready to return to his team, but there finally appears to be hope that it could come soon.
Fantasy owners should keep in mind that he will not be 100 percent recovered from the injury, although he might be able to function at or close to his normal level. There is the possibility the hand could become painful again at any time, and Hill may still require an offseason procedure. For now, however, it just comes down to whether he can do enough to contribute to the team. It sounds like we shall soon see.
UtleyChase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies (placed on DL May 23, could return this week): Utley has turned a corner in his recovery from a right oblique strain. He has been swinging the bat without issue, including taking live batting practice with his teammates last weekend. Utley originally injured himself swinging a bat, so performing the activity uneventfully on back-to-back days is a good sign. The Daily News reports a rehab assignment could come as early as Tuesday, which means if all goes well, the Phillies could see Utley back in the lineup late this week.
Utley's strain was originally diagnosed as a Grade 1 (mild) type, but the Phillies have been understandably cautious, not wanting him to exacerbate the injury and have it turn into something more severe. If he returns this weekend, it will mark just about a month since the injury or just under the average length of DL stay for an oblique strain. Given that his injury was minor, there is a good chance that it will be completely behind him when he does make his return.
SanchezAnibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers (placed on DL retroactive to June 16): It looked as if a trip to the DL might be the next move by the Tigers after Sanchez was forced to exit early from his Saturday start. Sanchez skipped a start a week earlier because of stiffness in his shoulder which despite having the sounds of something relatively benign, is worrisome given he is a pitcher with a history of shoulder surgery. Sanchez has enjoyed a few healthy seasons recently but in 2007 underwent surgery to address a torn labrum. He missed extended time again because of his shoulder in 2009. Add up the years and the mileage on his throwing shoulder and it's not surprising that it is acting up again. While the severity of this episode is not known -- and it may require nothing more than a brief period of rest -- his history (including Tommy John surgery in 2003) makes us a little more concerned than we would otherwise be.
BuchholzClay Buchholz, SP, Red Sox (day-to-day): Last week we discussed how the AC joint issue from late May and Buchholz's recent neck stiffness could be related. At the time it did not sound as if he were DL-bound, but the last week has not been particularly encouraging. Although he has been able to toss on flat ground, he has not done any downhill throwing and the neck soreness persists. Buchholz is expected to attempt a bullpen session Tuesday but if he cannot complete it or it goes poorly, he could wind up on the DL. As ESPN Boston reported, manager John Farrell was very matter of fact about the Buchholz decision. "The bottom line is ... we're not going to put him out there without making sure he's in a safe place physically," Farrell said. The good news is that the placement could be retroactive to June 9, meaning he could make a start next week if things improve. If he is able to throw Tuesday's bullpen, Buchholz could still be in line for a weekend start so his status is very much up in the air right now.
BeachyBrandon Beachy, SP, Braves (started season on DL, no timetable for return): Beachy was all but penciled into this Tuesday's starting lineup until a poor rehab outing last week prompted further discussion and investigation. Beachy, coming off Tommy John surgery, underwent an MRI Saturday and as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, there was no significant structural damage but there was some inflammation in the area. Naturally the plan is to back Beachy off of throwing to let the inflammation settle; there is no word as to when he will attempt to resume his program. With Diamondbacks pitcher Daniel Hudson reinjuring his elbow eleven months post-Tommy John surgery, it serves as a reminder that no outcome is guaranteed and even minor setbacks need to be taken seriously. Beachy is just about a year removed from his reconstruction and another few weeks – even a couple of months – would be well worth waiting for as opposed to the alternative. While the news is disappointing after such a strong rehab process so far, it does not mean we won't see Beachy this year. We just won't see him for a while.