Stephania Bell: Jeff Niemann
May, 15, 2012
By Stephania Bell | ESPN.com
Uh-oh. Matt Kemp, one of the game's most durable players, who was off to an amazing start this season with a batting average of .359 through his last game played on May 13, has been felled by a hamstring injury. That most nagging injury of injuries has sent him to the DL, ending his consecutive-game streak at 399, an incredible accomplishment in this day and age. (Consider that next in line when it comes to active players is Prince Fielder with 216, according to Elias.)
As recently as two days ago Kemp said, "I'm definitely not going on the DL; that's not going to happen. ... The team needs me. I don't think this is a 15-day thing." Kemp was right about one thing; his team needs him. As in, the Dodgers need him for the better part of the season, they may really need him late in the year in the event of a playoff run and they will definitely need him to be at full strength. So the decision to rest him, despite his objections, is wise in terms of the big picture. The hope is to avoid turning what may well be a minor injury that needs only a few days of rest into something that requires weeks or even months to heal. While it is discouraging to see the injury bug catch up with an athlete who has done so well to elude it, the sensible side of managing his health long-term has won out.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireMatt Kemp hopes to miss just the minimum 15 days.
Nationals catch run of bad luck
It is difficult to recall a more unusual string of devastating injuries in seemingly back-to-back fashion on one team than what the Washington Nationals have faced this season. They stand out not only because of the number of players who have landed on the DL this season but also because of the serious and unusual nature of many of their injuries. And the catchers are at the top of the list.
Wilson Ramos, who endured a harrowing kidnapping experience in his native Venezuela last fall, suffered a season-ending ACL injury in his right knee Saturday. Ramos was scrambling to grab a passed ball when he had one of those awkward non-contact-knee-collapsing-inward moments that often signal an ACL failure. After he was helped from the field, an MRI confirmed the nature of the injury. The expectation is that Ramos will undergo surgery but the plans for the next steps have not yet been announced by the team.
With Ramos out, the Nationals called up 23-year-old Sandy Leon, a fellow Venezuelan, from Double-A Harrisburg to take his place. Leon, who initially did not know the injury to Ramos was the reason for his call-up, expressed sympathy upon learning the news. According to the Washington Times, Leon said, "I feel bad for him because he's from Venezuela and he's my friend. It's bad for him but it's good for me." Oops. It turned out to be not so good for Leon either, forced from his major league debut in just the fourth inning after a collision at home plate. The team reports the injury as a high right ankle sprain and Leon was immediately placed in a protective boot. Watching the injury called to mind San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey's injury last season, when a collision at home plate resulted in a twisting motion of his (in his case, left) ankle, tearing ligaments and fracturing his fibula. No word of the severity of Leon's injury, though.
In addition to Ramos and Leon, eight other Nationals are either on the disabled list currently or have been there this year, and it's easy to see how exasperating the season has been. One minute it's electrifying Bryce Harper highlights, the next minute it's the devastating loss of yet another player due to injury. And most of these injuries have time frames well beyond 15 days. Outfielder Jayson Werth suffered a broken wrist less than two weeks ago and is expected to miss several months. Pitchers Drew Storen (elbow) and Brad Lidge (sports hernia) are recovering from surgery and have begun light throwing. And then there's outfielder Michael Morse who suffered a setback with his torn right latissimus dorsi muscle in April while on a rehab assignment but hopes to return in June. (For a more detailed update on their rehab activities, check out this recent post by Amanda Comak in the Washington Times.)
Duffy is done
The Kansas City Royals can certainly relate to the Washington Nationals in the injury department. They have seen their fair share of players go down with serious injuries and have just added their young up-and-coming pitcher to the list. Danny Duffy, who had complained earlier this season of tightness in his left elbow and had a history of injury to his ulnar collateral ligament, now appears to be headed for surgery.
Duffy exited his most recent start after facing only three hitters. On his second pitch, Duffy felt what he said was "a tugging sensation and pain" in the elbow, according to the Kansas City Star. Duffy had missed a start a couple of weeks prior but seemed to be feeling better over his most recent outings, until last Sunday. Duffy is headed to consult with Dr. Lewis Yocum but it sounds as if Tommy John surgery awaits.
And finally ...
Comebackers can be hard on a pitcher ... literally. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann took one to the right ankle and testing ultimately revealed a small fracture to his right fibula (skinny outer lower leg bone that forms the outer side of the ankle), according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Niemann likely will be out for well over a month as the bone has to heal, then he will have to build up his throwing. ... Meanwhile, Ivan Nova of the New York Yankees also absorbed a comebacker to his right ankle Monday night. He stayed in the game for three additional innings, then seemed to come down awkwardly when fielding a bouncing ball hit his direction. So far, no word of anything broken, but the team has called it an ankle contusion and a foot/ankle sprain. For now he is day-to-day. ... Meanwhile, closers continue to drop around baseball. Yankees interim closer David Robertson felt pain in his left side after throwing Friday night. The soreness lingered beyond what was hoped and he underwent further testing Tuesday. The result? A trip to the DL. If it follows the standard time frame for these types of injuries, expect him out for approximately a month.