Stephania Bell: Johnny Cueto
Cueto was activated Monday and started against the Houston Astros.
It was not clear what to expect from Cueto in his early outings, because his rehab sessions consisted only of bullpen workouts and simulated games. He may not be able to go especially deep into games initially, but the Reds are simply looking for results.
Cueto delivered five scoreless innings (including five strikeouts) Monday night, and could face the Pirates this weekend. Five innings is a small sample size, but fantasy owners may be willing to roll the dice on an outing or two from Cueto.
The fantasy baseball season is entering the final turn. Some teams are pushing for a playoff spot while others are just trying to save some semblance of pride. Either way, there are some injuries that still could have fantasy impact. Here are a few to consider, keeping in mind all projected return timelines should be considered fluid.
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado Rockies (placed on DL Aug. 5): Gonzalez sprained the middle finger on his right hand when he took a hard swing. After fighting through it for a period of time, then aggravating it in early August, the team decided to give him a more extended rest in the hopes the affected ligament would heal. The small collateral ligaments provide stability to the joints of the fingers and the persistent injury caused Gonzalez significant discomfort, altering the way he was able to grip and swing the bat. Depending on the degree of injury, the healing time is variable but typically involves weeks, not days, hence the decision to give him extended down time. During his DL stint, Gonzalez has been relegated to activities that do not involve swinging the bat in order to give his finger the best opportunity to recover.
Now, after 15 days, the time has come to test it. Gonzalez won’t be returning to the lineup yet; the preliminary test is simply swinging a bat. According to the Denver Post, that will happen Wednesday, and the Rockies will see how his finger responds. Not that one test will tell the whole tale. After all, Gonzalez had moments where he was hitting the ball well in July but the injury would flare up intermittently. That theoretically still could happen if the ligament has not fully healed. Unfortunately, the only way to find out is to test with the activity.
If Gonzalez responds well on his first day swinging, the expectation is that his activity will be increased during the next few days to see how his finger responds to cumulative stress. The Rockies understandably have issued no timetable and will wait to see how Wednesday’s session goes. The hope is that he is further along in the healing process and that even if the finger still requires supportive taping, it will be of more assistance now than it was previously. If Gonzalez is able to hit consistently without discomfort, he could be a nice rejuvenation to any lineup.
Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati Reds (placed on DL June 29, no return timetable): For anyone who was still holding out some hope for a late season return by Cueto, the curtain is starting to drop. To be fair, when Cueto went on the DL for the third time this year with a strained latissimus dorsi muscle, the Reds acknowledged it might be an issue for the remainder of the season. The latest tests administered by the team would seem to confirm that notion. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Cueto’s most recent MRI shows about 75 percent healing of the lat. Translation: Not healed enough to begin throwing.
On the positive side, Cueto has reportedly made strength gains, so his rehab program is progressing. He will continue with the strengthening for now in the hopes that he can eventually progress to throwing. If he is able to make enough strides to potentially return to the mound, it will likely be too late for fantasy owners. After two months of not throwing, Cueto would have a ways to go to increase his arm strength sufficiently to return to the team in any role. For fantasy owners who have been hanging on in the hopes of September help, it’s time to look elsewhere.
Roy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (placed on DL May 6): Halladay has been out of view since he underwent surgery to address a partial rotator cuff tear and frayed labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder on May 16. In the past week, however, Halladay has resurfaced, making his first rehab start in Clearwater for the Phillies' Gulf Coast League team. Considering the extent of the surgery on his throwing shoulder, a first outing of six innings was an impressive debut. While the competition was not nearly big league caliber and Halladay’s velocity was not big league ready, the fact he was able to throw for that long and, most importantly, without any undue soreness post-outing, is a strong indicator that Halladay is indeed likely to return this season.
He is slated to make his second rehab start Tuesday at the next level of competition for the Class A Lakewood Blueclaws. The expectation is that he will go a little deeper in terms of innings; the hope is that he will be able to turn up the velocity as well. How he fares in this outing likely will determine the next step, but it appears Halladay could be joining his major league teammates by the end of the month, just as he predicted. It’s not out of the question that he could deliver a few quality starts in September as his strength on the mound improves.
Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty ImagesEven dating back to his time with the Twins, Carlos Gomez has never been afraid of outfield walls.
Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (day-to-day): The "other" CarGo makes the list, as he gave fantasy owners a scare last Thursday when he crashed into the center field wall at Miller Park, injuring his right knee. Earlier this season, he and the outfield wall had an awkward encounter and he jammed his shoulder. He was fortunate then to escape major injury; he required only a few days to recover. It's possible he was equally lucky this time around. Originally diagnosed with a sprain, Gomez underwent an MRI, which indicated no major structural damage. Three days later, Gomez initiated baseball activities, with no reported setbacks afterward. His progress has been so strong that he could be poised for a return off the bench within the next day or so, per MLB.com. He may then be available for starting duties by this weekend. Gomez has shown some impressive resiliency following these collisions, but his fantasy owners would probably prefer that he not test his luck again.
Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (placed on DL July 31): Just when it seemed Moore might have hit a plateau in his throwing progression, he appears to have turned the corner. On the DL due to soreness in his left (throwing) elbow, Moore has now begun to add more layers to his flat-ground throwing. The Tampa Tribune reports he added changeups to the mix without experiencing discomfort, a significant improvement, according to Moore. The plan is for him to continue with the throwing progression; a bullpen on Wednesday is up next. Working in Moore's favor is that he has not been removed from throwing for an exceptionally long time, therefore he should recover his arm strength fairly quickly. It appears if the remainder of this week goes well, he could rejoin his team the following week.
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.
Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals (placed on DL retroactive to May 27, expected to return Monday): Last week there was some disagreement between Harper and manager Davey Johnson about the right time for Harper to return to the lineup. It now appears they are on the same page. According to the Washington Times, Harper is expected to return Monday night after completing a rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg. He originally injured his knee in May crashing into the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium but tried stoically to play through it. Less than two weeks later, it became apparent the knee was not improving and Harper went on the DL. Persistent swelling in the form of bursitis nagged at him until June, when he received two separate injections in the area: cortisone and PRP. Once the pain and inflammation settled, Harper was able to resume baseball activities and now, after increasing that activity to the level of playing in games, he is in line to rejoin his team.
The knee is not perfect and the chance remains that it could become aggravated with a crash, a dive or another move often associated with Harper and his style of play. For now, however, he is just anxious to get back in the lineup, posting the following on his Twitter account Monday: “I'm so blessed and thankful to be back playing the game that I love! Felt like forever.” Fantasy owners no doubt feel the same way.
Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays (day-to-day): Longoria aggravated plantar fasciitis in his right foot Friday night and sat for the remainder of the weekend. The question for fantasy owners is how long the rest will continue. Manager Joe Maddon said Longoria had improved substantially by Sunday to the point where a DL stint might not be necessary, according to the Tampa Bay Times. In fact, Maddon suggested Longoria might be available to pinch hit Monday if he continued to feel better.
The problem with plantar fasciitis (pain in the fibrous tissue which reinforces the arch of the foot) is that the pain is typically provoked by load-bearing activity, including running. If Longoria does test the foot and the pain escalates, the team may have to re-evaluate the possibility of more extended rest.
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images Carl Crawford's impending return could cause a logjam in the Dodgers' outfield.
Carl Crawford, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers (placed on DL June 2, could return this week): After not hearing much about Crawford’s progress in rehab during the month of June, there’s suddenly a rather dramatic update. Crawford began a rehab assignment over the weekend and is scheduled to add playing time in the field early this week, according to the Los Angeles Times. If all goes well, he could return to the lineup this weekend when the Dodgers face the San Francisco Giants.
The risks remain the same as they are for any player coming off the DL with a significant hamstring strain, something with which the Dodgers are all too familiar. The hope is that Crawford will situationally test the hamstring as much as possible while on his rehab assignment, but that will never match the intensity of a major league contest. It wouldn’t be the worst thing for the health of their outfielders if the Dodgers choose to rotate among them all (Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig). With Kemp coming off a recent hamstring injury (which appears to be fully recovered) and still trying to regain his form following shoulder surgery, Ethier’s recently sore knee and Puig playing every game as if it might be his last, the addition of Crawford -- who has yet to stay healthy for more than eight weeks over the past two years -- could provide the sort of insurance the Dodgers’ outfield needs. For fantasy owners, however, it will be worth monitoring how the workload is divided up once Crawford is back in the mix.
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels (day-to-day): Right now there seems to be little concern on the part of the Angels about the “minor” hamstring issue that kept Trout out of the lineup Sunday. At nearly the halfway point of the season, Trout had yet to miss a game, so perhaps a day of rest was in order, especially if that day keeps him healthy going forward. Trout is expected to play Tuesday after the team’s day off on Monday but, as we have seen with other hamstring ailments around the league, sometimes even a seemingly minor issue can resurface if provoked. Everyone is hoping this will not be the case for Trout.
Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres (placed on DL June 17, could return this week): When Cabrera was first injured, he sounded like someone who knew it would take more than a few days off to recover. The good news is that he likely he will not miss much beyond the minimum DL time with his strained left hamstring. Cabrera has been making progress with his conventional rehab and, according to the Padres' official website, could head out on a rehab assignment early this week with their Class A affiliate in Fort Wayne, Ind. If he plays without incident there, the Padres could see him back in their lineup as soon as Thursday in Boston or for the weekend series in Washington against the Nationals. Given Cabrera’s value in base stealing and the fact he was injured while attempting a stolen base, he probably would want to test that skill in a game situation before returning to the majors. Not every scenario can be forced, so his return may not hinge on it, but a successful minor league steal would help instill confidence -- both for Cabrera and fantasy owners -- that he will not be hesitant to do so upon return.
Peter Bourjos, OF, Los Angeles Angels (day-to-day, likely to be placed on DL): Bourjos broke a bone “just below his right wrist” and is now expected to miss two to three weeks minimum, according to the Los Angeles Times. The fracture occurred Saturday when he was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning of a game against the Astros. Fortunately for Bourjos, this is a nondisplaced fracture (bony ends remain in alignment), which doesn’t require surgery. Assuming the bone shows good early healing and he is able to grip and swing a bat effectively, his timetable for return is projected at under a month. Bourjos has already spent as much time on the DL this season as he has on the playing field, so the news of another significant injury is particularly discouraging. At least he knows the drill.
Ryan Sweeney, OF, Cubs (placed on DL June 30): Sweeney had been seeing regular playing time since mid-June, filling in for the injured David DeJesus, who is out with a shoulder sprain. Sweeney will now be joining DeJesus on the DL after a crash into the outfield wall Saturday resulted in a left-sided rib fracture. (DeJesus also injured himself when he collided with the outfield wall.) Originally labeled a contusion (deep bruise), the injury turned out to be more severe upon further examination. The broken bone will require four to six weeks to heal and Sweeney’s activity will be determined both by that healing process and his discomfort. It now looks as if recently called up Brian Bogusevic will see regular playing time until DeJesus returns (not expected until late July). Note to Bogusevic: Avoid the outfield walls.
Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays (placed on DL June 28): It was a bit surprising to see Cabrera placed on the DL Thursday when there hadn’t been much chatter about a problem. Apparently a midweek tweak of his knee during a game against the Rays had Cabrera laboring a bit with his movement, according to manager John Gibbons, prompting the DL designation. The injury was originally reported to have been tendinitis in his left knee, and the diagnosis was supported by a subsequent MRI, according to Sportsnet. The diagnosis remains unspecific given it is not clear which tendon is aggravated, but it sounds as if the Jays expect he could return when eligible.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres (placed on DL June 10, could return this week): Gyorko was expected back last week assuming his two scheduled rehab games went as planned. They did not. He felt his right groin tighten up while running hard during a rehab game Wednesday and exited early as a precaution. As of Saturday, Gyorko reported feeling improvement, according to the Padres’ official website, but he remains without a definitive timetable for return. If anything, the experience of the setback, however minor it was deemed to be, reinforced the need to test Gyorko’s response to baserunning. Before he returns, it would seem likely the team would send him on a rehab assignment to test the area not only in-game, but to see how he responds the following day. A specific plan has not been outlined as of yet, but fantasy owners should not expect him before late in the week.
Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports Troy Tulowitzki likely won't be back for the All-Star Game, but he could return not long after.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies (placed on DL June 13): Tulowitzki has just recently passed the 15-day mark of his DL placement but he will be staying put for a while longer. Still, his progress thus far has been encouraging. Tulowitzki has resumed some light baseball activities, including fielding, playing catch and, as the Denver Post reported, hitting off a tee as of Saturday. He’s still on the projected four-to-six week time frame and he’s not entirely pain-free, but his ramped-up work is a good sign. Assuming the healing of the rib itself cooperates, Tulowitzki could get clearance to further advance his activity in the coming days.
Corey Hart, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers (opened season on DL, now done for the season): Just when it seemed the news for Hart couldn’t get any worse, somehow it did. Hart, who has struggled to return from offseason surgery on his right knee, will now undergo surgery on his left knee, ensuring his absence for the remainder of the 2013 season. It was only last week that Hart revealed his frustration to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel at a constantly changing return date and his continued lack of strength. Return following any procedure involving cartilage resurfacing can vary widely depending on the individual’s healing response and whether any setbacks are encountered along the way. Hart had several setbacks with his right knee, but his biggest comes in the form of an entirely different blow. On the other hand, the forced scaling back of the rehab for his right knee while he undergoes surgery on the left may end up having a beneficial effect. He will have to ramp up his activity gradually to accommodate the left knee and the adjusted program may be just what his right knee needs to fully recover. Another surgery is not the news any athlete wants to hear, but it was beginning to look worrisome as to whether Hart would be able to make it back this year anyway. At least this way he has the opportunity for a fresh start in 2014.
Johnny Cueto, SP, Cincinnati Reds (placed on DL June 29): This is now the third time that Cueto has been bothered enough by a lat strain to be forced out of the rotation. Cueto went on the DL in mid-April, then returned a month later and looked sharp. But shortly thereafter he aggravated the area behind his shoulder and was sidelined for another 15 days. Now, after less than two weeks of being back in the mix, Cueto has again suffered a setback. The repeat nature of this has to raise concerns for his ability to truly get past the injury in-season. After a diagnostic ultrasound confirmed the injury is to the same spot within the same (latissimus dorsi) muscle, the team’s plan is to completely shut down his throwing for several weeks and slow down his rehab process, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. It’s hard to argue with the plan when the problem has been as recurrent in nature as it has for Cueto. The Reds have to be hoping that the third time’s the charm in terms of keeping Cueto off the DL, but as Reds athletic trainer Paul Lessard told the Enquirer, “It’s probably going to be an issue the rest of the season.”
David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays (placed on DL May 16, expected to return Tuesday): From start to finish, this injury episode has been a bit unusual. It started with the vague diagnosis of “triceps tightness” for Price which manager Joe Maddon initially projected would cost him merely two to three starts. A month later, Price is just approaching a return from the DL. His rehab has progressed fairly cautiously, but Price has not been beset by setbacks. Still, the team was careful not to place any expectations on his return date and offered very little in the way of specifics about Price’s injury. Muscular tightness is generally not the cause of a 45-day absence. The concern is that this incidence reflects a greater underlying issue with Price’s throwing shoulder. But his fairly linear recovery and strong performance in rehab outings provides some reassurance that he is indeed returning healthy. Only if Price lasts the remainder of the season without any recurrence of symptoms, however, will we be able to breathe a sigh of relief about his health. Until then this is an exercise in cautious optimism.
J. Meric/Getty Images David Price's absence was a lot longer than many had expected.
Anibal Sanchez, SP, Detroit Tigers (placed on DL June 16, could return this week): The plan was for Sanchez to make a rehab start Monday to assess his readiness to return. If all went well, it was conceivable he could be activated by the weekend. Unfortunately, Sanchez took a line drive to his left leg during this rehab outing and had to exit the game. According to James R. Chipman of Scout.com, Sanchez appeared to be in a fair amount of pain. There is no word yet as to the seriousness of this injury. The issue here with regards to Sanchez's shoulder is not necessarily the severity of this episode per se, but rather the lengthy history of shoulder problems that Sanchez has dealt with across his career. His near return is encouraging but it remains to be seen whether this was a minor bump in the road or a signal that his shoulder is fatiguing.
A.J. Burnett, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates (placed on DL June 9): Burnett has been working his way back from a Grade 1 calf strain and has resumed throwing downhill. After a successful couple of bullpen sessions, Burnett is expected to throw a simulated game Tuesday according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Burnett’s challenges following this injury have as much (if not more) to do with running to cover first base and fielding as anything with his push leg. Even if his throwing sessions are uneventful, until he tests those activities, it will be difficult to gauge his readiness to return. A rehab assignment could be in his near future which will provide the situational play necessary to test the calf. If all goes well, Burnett could be eyeing a return within the next couple weeks, although the Pirates have not specified a timetable.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer Fantasy owners are definitely missing Clay Buchholz, who's 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA.
Clay Buchholz, SP, Boston Red Sox (placed on DL retroactive to June 9): An MRI on Buchholz’s shoulder reportedly revealed inflammation in the bursa sac of his right shoulder, or simply, bursitis. While the diagnosis is relatively benign, it doesn’t fully explain the neck pain Buchholz has been experiencing recently. Buchholz’s issues began in the shoulder in late May, but recently his complaints have been closer to the neck and he was reported to be dealing with a trapezius strain (large muscle between the neck and the shoulder). Whether that area was symptomatic as a result of origination of a problem elsewhere is the ultimate question the Red Sox need to answer. Perhaps Buchholz’s response to the next round of treatment will do just that. The bottom line in terms of activity is that the plan for Buchholz is to gradually resume his throwing program. Again. This latest effort started with a session of catch before last Saturday’s game and will likely progress, as previously, based on what his level of comfort allows. In other words, it’s a matter of wait and see. Again.
Josh Beckett, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (placed on DL May 14, now expected to miss remainder of season): Beckett has barely been present for the Dodgers this season and the appearances he did make were forgettable. His season has been marred by injury -- predominantly connected to numbness in his throwing hand -- and he is now heading to surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome (compression of nerve and/or blood vessels between the neck and shoulder, generally by a rib which is then resected in surgery). This is similar to the surgery St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter underwent, and we have witnessed his ups and downs in trying to return to pitching. It is no easy rehab process and Beckett has expressed concern at various points about what his future holds. For now the only certainty is that he is not expected back on the mound for the Dodgers this year.
Brandon Beachy, SP, Atlanta Braves (opened season on DL): Just as Beachy appeared to be on the verge of making his season debut following Tommy John surgery, he suffered a setback in mid-June which threw him off his timeline. Fortunately, an MRI revealed only inflammation but no significant structural damage in the area of his recently reconstructed ligament. After a week of rest, Beachy gradually resumed throwing and has again worked his way back to throwing off a mound. His recent bullpen sessions have gone smoothly and the next step appears to be re-engaging in a rehab assignment. Given that his setback happened after what was to be his final rehab outing, it’s likely the team will want him to make several rehab starts before bringing him to the big league setting. So far, so good given how things looked just two weeks ago, but fantasy owners should not expect him to join the Braves for a while yet. Even then it may take him awhile to accumulate substantial innings.
Joakim Soria, RP, Texas Rangers (opened season on DL): It is really nice to see Soria doing so well in his road back from Tommy John surgery, especially since this is his second time undergoing the procedure. He has yet to appear in back-to-back games, likely the final step before re-emerging in the majors. Bear in mind that Soria has been out for over a year and he may be gradually integrated into relief work once he joins the team. Still, it’s nice to have a feel-good story on the injury front, especially after a player has been down such a long recovery road twice.
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.
HittersJason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves (placed on DL April 21, could return this week): Heyward went on the disabled list following an emergency appendectomy, so at least there's comfort in knowing this is not going to be a recurrent problem. Now it's just a matter of when he will return … and when he'll be effective.
Heyward has been on a rehab assignment for several days at Triple-A Gwinnett, and other than some soreness that warranted a day off, his stint has been uneventful from a health perspective. It also has been uneventful at the plate, that is until Sunday, when he finally started hitting. The Braves don't have an exact date for his return, but he's expected to rejoin the team at some point this week.
The Yankees would like it if he stays healthy and stays in. There's every indication he will come back and be productive immediately, and that return could happen any day now, potentially as early as Tuesday, when the Yankees open a series at home.
Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland Athletics (placed on DL April 30, could return this week): Crisp strained his left hamstring trying to run out a ground ball in the A's seemingly never-ending Monday night game nearly two weeks ago. Fortunately, the strain appeared mild and Crisp could potentially attempt to run the bases soon, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Obviously his tolerance of running will help determine his readiness to return -- manager Bob Melvin told reporters Crisp might not need a formal rehab assignment -- but as is always the case with hamstrings, until he runs in games without a setback, it will be impossible to tell just how healthy he is.
Chris Young, OF, A's (placed on DL April 30, could return Wednesday): The A's hope to get another outfielder with a soft tissue injury back soon. Just as Coco Crisp recovers from his hamstring, Young is working to get past a left quad strain that has sidelined him the past couple of weeks. After passing the necessary rehab clearances, Young is expected to get some at-bats in extended spring training games during the early part of the week, according to the A's official website. If all goes well, he could return when eligible on Wednesday.
Neil Walker, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates (placed on DL retroactive to April 27, expected to return Monday): Two weeks ago in this space, I wrote about how the Pirates hoped to return Walker within days if he could swing the bat effectively. Clearly he could not, and the decision was made to place him on the DL. After beginning a rehab assignment last Thursday, it seems Walker has shown he has moved past the injury, and his return appears imminent.
Michael Cuddyer, OF, Colorado Rockies (placed on DL retroactive to May 9): Cuddyer had already missed three games with what he referred to as inflammation in his neck, related to a disc problem. Now it's clear he will be missing a few more. This is not Cuddyer's first episode of neck pain, but it appears to be the first time it has forced him on the DL. The hope is that the symptoms are limited to his neck and that it won't progress into his shoulder or arm. Rest is the best option for him in the short term, but given the variability of these types of ailments, a definitive timetable is difficult to determine. The soonest he can return is May 24, if his neck cooperates.
Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals (placed on DL retroactive to May 3): This doesn't come as a huge surprise after Werth's hamstring continued to bother him despite missing the past eight games. If there is any good news, it's that it can be backdated to the last time Werth saw the field, making him eligible to return May 18. Whether he will be able to actually run at full speed by the end of this week remains to be seen. The Nationals have also indicated they believe dehydration was a factor in Werth's repeated muscle cramping.
The hope is that all will be under control and back to normal by the end of the week, although fantasy owners might want to wait until next week to insert him into their lineup.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers (day-to-day): Gonzalez has been dealing with a minor muscular strain in his neck, recently aggravated when he and an umpire crossed paths as he was attempting to field a ground ball. An MRI revealed little of significance and Gonzalez returned to play late last week. However, he promptly aggravated it again, then sat out Sunday's game.
This is what falls under the header of "annoying" injuries, frustrating to the athlete because of the come-and-go pattern and difficult to predict in terms of behavior and severity. It does not look as if Gonzalez is in danger of going on the DL, but fantasy owners will want to check daily lineups until he is playing consistently.
Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers (placed on DL retroactive to May 12): Another outfielder, another hamstring injury. It seems to be quite the injury trend this week. Also a trend: Teams opting to send players to the disabled list for seemingly minor strains early in the season, not wanting to risk a more severe injury. That makes sense. Teams as a whole seem to be offering their players a couple of days to test the effects of rest, but if there are any lingering warning signs, they waste little time scaling the athlete back (in the form of a DL stint). The hope then is that the player will miss the minimal amount of time, and Jackson's case is no different.
Desmond Jennings, OF, Tampa Bay Rays (day-to-day): Jennings has missed a few games with a minor groin strain, but the Rays seem fairly confident they will have him back Tuesday. Jennings has downplayed the injury since it first cropped up last week, suggesting he could play if necessary. Given that it's May and not September, manager Joe Maddon opted to rest Jennings for several days. The proof that it is not anything to worry about will come when Jennings returns to action for consecutive days without incident.
PitchersZack Greinke, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (placed on DL April 12, could return Wednesday): When Greinke was injured in the brawl with Carlos Quentin, no one knew what to expect since a clavicle fracture in the non-throwing arm of a pitcher is not exactly your everyday injury. As soon as the Dodgers announced he was undergoing surgery to stabilize the fracture, his prognosis for return actually improved, as it appeared he would not face as much down time from throwing.
Turns out that was an accurate assessment. Despite the Dodgers' (understandably) conservative eight-week projection, Greinke appears poised to possibly return this week, which would mark 4 1/2 weeks post-surgery. He has passed the point of having discomfort and pitched in high Class A ball last Friday. His velocity is up where he left off at the time of injury, and he appears from a functional standpoint to be ready to pitch in the majors. The final remaining hurdle is whether the bone has healed to the point where the team is comfortable with him absorbing contact. (The high Class A outing afforded him the opportunity to pitch with a DH in the lineup; when he returns to the Dodgers, he will need to hit, run and potentially absorb contact should there be a collision). Expect those clearing tests to be performed over the next 24 hours and a decision to be forthcoming shortly after. If the team opts to hold Greinke out of a return to the majors Wednesday, he would likely get another rehab start this week and rejoin the team next week.
Brett Anderson, SP, A's (placed on DL April 30, could return Friday): After originally spraining his ankle in mid-April, it looked as if Anderson could avoid a DL stint with some rest. But he got called into service in the A's marathon game a couple of weeks ago and it set him back, forcing the DL stint. With a pitcher so recently removed from Tommy John surgery, it's probably for the best that he allow the ankle to recover sufficiently to not threaten his throwing mechanics and, consequently, the health of his arm. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Anderson is likely to rejoin the rotation Friday.
Ryan Madson, RP, Los Angeles Angels (opened the season on DL, could return this week): Madson's return following last April's Tommy John surgery has been delayed due to the soreness he experienced this spring. The delays aren't highly unusual, but it does bode for a gradual progression even as he returns to his major league team. Madson has been pitching in extended spring training and will begin a rehab assignment this week. He might not spend much time there, as the team could bring him up to the majors to build further endurance in that setting. As the Los Angeles Times has reported, he will not be the closer immediately upon return, and how the Angels opt to use him will likely depend on what they see from him as he resumes big league action.
It's entirely possible the team opts for another rehab start, depending on what they see during his outing this week and how Cueto feels after consecutive starts. Either way, it appears that, barring a setback, his return is not far off.
Andrew Bailey, RP, Boston Red Sox (placed on DL retroactive to April 29, could return within a week): Bailey is eligible to return from the DL on Wednesday, but the club could still opt to send him out on a rehab assignment, pushing back that return. Bailey went on the disabled list with a biceps strain, a bit more worrisome than the one that sidelined teammate John Lackey because of the location of Bailey's symptoms (higher, closer to the shoulder). As noted in this space last week, Bailey has been plagued by a series of injuries, but he started the season strong for the Red Sox. With Joel Hanrahan now out for the remainder of the season, it would seem Bailey has the opportunity to recapture his closer role from Junichi Tazawa, if he can stay healthy. Considering his history, particularly in light of this current ailment, that's a big if. Even if Bailey returns without a rehab assignment, the bigger question will be how long he can go without a potential flare-up.
Chris Perez, RP, Cleveland Indians (day-to-day): As he began to warm up Sunday before entering the game in relief, Perez experienced what the team is calling "stiffness" in his throwing shoulder. Manager Terry Francona opted not to press his luck and rested Perez instead. At this point, it doesn't appear to warrant major concern, but it does warrant you keeping an eye on the situation. Unless he's scratched again this week, consider this just a bump in the road.
Jake Westbrook, SP, St. Louis Cardinals (placed on DL May 12): Westbrook becomes the latest pitcher to hit the disabled list with inflammation in his elbow. According to ESPN's Jim Bowden, Westbrook received a cortisone injection in his elbow. Expect several days of rest with a gradual increase in activity to see if he can resume throwing. Until he reaches that point, it will be difficult to project the length of his absence.
Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Baltimore Orioles (day-to-day): After getting his team off to a good start Sunday, Chen was forced to leave the game early because of a strained oblique. He was scheduled to undergo an MRI Monday, and it would not be surprising if this results in a trip to the DL. The typical absence for a pitcher runs on the order of a month, so if it is serious enough to warrant the trip, plan on not having him available for approximately four weeks.
Every Monday in this space, we'll provide updates on a variety of players to help you make your 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.
HittersDavid Ortiz, DH, Red Sox (opened season on DL, due back April): It's no secret that Ortiz has been battling inflammation in his heels this spring and chronic Achilles soreness since last year. Slowly and steadily, however, he has been increasing his activity and appears to be not far from rejoining his team. Ortiz began a rehab assignment Thursday with the Pawtucket Red Sox and managed to incorporate some baserunning -- including a slide -- over the weekend. He told ESPN Boston that he had "no hesitation" when running the bases -- a good sign, since that is what had triggered his Achilles issues last season. Red Sox manager John Farrell has indicated he will leave it to Ortiz to say when he's ready to return but estimated it would take approximately 25 to 30 at-bats. Ortiz did not play Sunday because of an illness, but presuming it is short-lived, he could get enough work to rejoin the team late this week. No guarantee this is behind him for the rest of the season but it sounds like Ortiz is reaching a point where he is able to play comfortably.
Chase Headley, 3B, Padres (injured March 17, opened season on DL, due back April): Headley looks as if he could return this week, although which day that would be is unclear. Headley fractured the tip of his left thumb in March and was originally projected to be out until late April. When X-rays taken last week indicated the fracture was healing well, however, Headley was given the green light to do as much as he was comfortable doing, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. That activity has progressed from drills -- including taking batting practice from both sides of the plate -- to a rehab assignment which began Friday. So far Headley seems to be comfortable with everything he's tested. Once he demonstrates he can perform offensively and defensively consistently without limitation, Headley could be back in the mix and that could happen any day.
Erick Aybar, SS, Angels (placed on DL April 13): Aybar bruised his left heel Tuesday when it hit the bag at first base hard as he ran out an infield single and it forced him to leave the game. Now it will force him to miss more extensive time. Although imaging tests appeared to have ruled out a significant injury, the pain associated with heel contusions makes it virtually impossible to put full weight through the foot for some time. According to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, Aybar, despite feeling improvement overall, was still having trouble hitting from the right side during batting practice Friday. The rest he will be able to give the heel during a DL stint should allow him to get past this. If all goes well, his absence should not exceed the two weeks.
Yoenis Cespedes, OF, A's (placed on DL April 13): Cespedes injured his left hand during a slide into second base Friday and was placed on the DL the next day. Imaging tests showed no fracture and the team is calling this a muscle strain, but given that this the injury is to his bottom batting hand, the A's perhaps wanted to take no chances on having him try to press and end up compensating elsewhere. At this point it appears he could return after the minimum 15-day stay.
Coco Crisp, OF, A's (DTD): Cespedes wasn't the only A's outfielder to injure himself Friday; Crisp exited the same game early after suffering a left groin strain. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Crisp was removed from the game as a precautionary measure after the injury to Cespedes. At this point, Crisp's injury is considered minor and the team considers him day-to-day. Although he didn't play Sunday, he did take batting practice and did some running. It sounds as if he could return as soon as Monday, although the A's have not tipped their hand just yet.
Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox (placed on DL April 10, due back late May/early June): Beckham fractured the hamate bone in his left wrist and will undergo surgery at the Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday. This is the same surgery Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval has undergone on both hands and is not uncommon among hitters. While lingering soreness from scar tissue can make swinging the bat uncomfortable initially, most hitters recover their power within the first few weeks back.
Michael Saunders, OF, Mariners (placed on DL April 11): Saunders suffered what the team is calling a sprain of his right shoulder when he crashed into the outfield wall last Wednesday. He managed to hang onto the fly ball that sent him to the wall, delivering an out for his team, but the wall took him out for an indefinite period of time. The team has not issued a timetable but fantasy owners should plan on at least a few weeks.
Mike Morse, OF, Mariners (DTD): On Friday I explained why Morse's broken finger isn't as serious an injury as it could have been. In fact, the team expressed hope he could return within three to seven days. Although a Sunday return seemed a little optimistic (and did not end up happening), the Seattle Times reports that manager Eric Wedge hopes to have him available Tuesday (following a team off day on Monday). The key is having him comfortable enough to swing the bat normally, but given the location of the injury, it shouldn't take long.
Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Mariners (DTD): Seriously, it appears to be hazardous to your health to be a Mariners outfielder. Add Gutierrez to the list of walking wounded with tightness in his groin, which caused him to sit out the weekend games. The Seattle Times reports manager Eric Wedge hopes to have Gutierrez back on Tuesday along with Morse. The concern in the case of Gutierrez is not exacerbating a minor ailment and turning it into a DL-worthy injury. Don't be surprised if Gutierrez sits a bit longer, especially if he is still experiencing discomfort Tuesday.
Jason Kubel, OF, Diamondbacks (placed on DL April 13): Lingering soreness in his left quadriceps led Kubel to be placed on the DL on Saturday. He hasn't appeared to truly be at full health since the spring, and after undergoing an MRI Saturday for his latest ailment, the decision was made to move him to the DL. It is not clear just yet whether the team expects him to miss more than the minimum time.
Michael Bourn, OF, Indians (DTD): Expect Bourn to miss several days after requiring five stitches in his right index finger. Bourn was stepped on by White Sox pitcher Matt Thornton while sliding headfirst Sunday. The main thing for Bourn is that the cut heals well so that this does not turn into something bigger which would force more time off.
Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles (placed on DL April 4): After battling to return following lengthy injury absences the last two seasons, Roberts again finds himself sidelined after getting hurt. Roberts reportedly tore a hamstring tendon when he felt something "pop" in the back of his knee while stealing a base. While the prospects for returning from this injury are good, it most certainly will extend beyond the minimum DL time. He has yet to begin any baseball activities. It would be a surprise if he were to return before early May.
Wilson Ramos, C, Nationals (placed on DL April 14): The good news is that this injury is not to the same leg which recently underwent ACL reconstruction. The bad news is that the hamstring strain Ramos suffered was enough to send him to the DL. After such a difficult year in 2012, the hope was that Ramos could have a nicer start to the 2013 season. Unfortunately, getting into the groove of the season will be delayed by this setback, which will likely cost him more than the minimum two weeks.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians (DTD): Kipnis has been battling a sore left elbow for several days, and he was out of the lineup both Saturday and Sunday. This spring, Kipnis reportedly dealt with soreness in his right elbow, which he attributed to the increased throwing that accompanies that time of year. So far, there's been no explanation as to what may be the source of this episode making it hard to evaluate just how worrisome his latest elbow issue is. As of now the Indians are calling Kipnis day-to-day and sound hopeful that he will return after Monday's off day but the vagueness surrounding the injury raises a bit of a concern.
Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds (Placed on DL April 15): Cueto left his Saturday start in the fifth inning with what was initially described as a triceps injury. On Sunday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Cueto is going to be placed on the DL with a lat strain. "Lat" of course refers to the latissimus dorsi muscle, the same muscle Phillies ace Roy Halladay strained last year which sent him to the DL for over a month, and the same ailment which has prevented Cubs pitcher Matt Garza from pitching yet this year. As with any muscle strain there are varying degrees of injury and the team has not offered much more in the way of specifics. But the lat is integral to a pitcher's throwing motion, and it is likely Cueto will not be permitted to throw for a period of time while allowing the tissue to recover. The time it takes for the soreness to resolve (which will impact the length of time until Cueto is permitted to resume throwing) will determine how long the total recovery will be. It would not be surprising, even if the strain is minor, for Cueto's absence to exceed two weeks.
Matt Harrison, SP, Rangers (placed on DL April 6): Harrison essentially left his Opening Day start with lower back soreness and has been out ever since. According to the Rangers' official website, Harrison experienced weakness in his left leg, a serious enough sign (suggesting nerve involvement) to send him to the DL. He has undergone epidural injections in his back to help with pain and inflammation but is still in recovery mode. He has yet to throw. Although Harrison is scheduled to be evaluated again this week, it does not appear he will be ready to come off the DL at the end of 15 days. Until he resumes throwing, there is really no timetable to project.
Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Pirates (DTD): Rodriguez left in the third inning of his April 8 start with a strained left hamstring. He told reporters Saturday that the only thing he can't do is "push off of it" when he tries to pitch, and he is hopeful he will miss only one start. The fact he has not been moved to the DL thus far is a good sign as are his own reports of his progress. As a left-handed thrower, Rodriguez needs power from that left leg, and he is in the best position to know by feel whether it is fully cooperating or not. If all goes well, he could make a start later this week.