We're rounding the bend and preparing to enter the final stretch of Major League Baseball's regular season, when injury issues are as critical as ever. Major league teams with an eye on the playoffs might be cautious about returning their stars too quickly, while fantasy owners are wishing those players could return, well, yesterday.
Adrian Beltre (hamstring) is a good example of this; his owners need him back, but the Rangers have indicated they will proceed even more cautiously this time around with their power-hitting third baseman. Beltre strained his left hamstring in late July, his first such experience with the injury, but he is getting an education on why these ailments are so problematic. He reinjured himself running the bases a little more than a week ago, just before he was set to rejoin the team, and undoubtedly that activity will be postponed a while longer this time. According to the Rangers' official website, the team is not expecting Beltre back until September.
Meanwhile, Rangers teammate Nelson Cruz left Monday's game because of tightness in his left quad. This is not the same quad that sent him to the DL in May, but it is the one that bothered him in late July. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cruz said after the game that he was removed as a precaution with the team in the lead, and he could be back in the lineup Tuesday. It's still worth watching to see if, indeed, he returns so quickly and more importantly, if it's truly a non-issue. His owners have to hope the problem doesn't affect him the rest of this season.
Rickie Weeks is speaking again. Although he was understandably mum about the severity of his injury after spraining his ankle in late July, the Brewers' second baseman now says he's making progress, and even feels a little ahead of schedule, according to the team's website. He has been doing pool workouts and playing catch, and he progressed to fielding grounders last weekend. However, that's still quite a ways from doing everything necessary to resume play.
In fact, this is when an injury such as this can trick an athlete. The daily routine starts to feel normal, light activity even feels good. It gets an athlete thinking he can do even more and wanting to push ahead faster. Enter the rehab staff, which knows when to apply the brakes, or at least downshift so that no one gets ahead of himself. Progressions are not usually linear; regaining sprinting speed, especially rounding corners and high-level agility, can take much longer. Weeks originally was given a timetable of 4-6 weeks, and next week will mark one month since the injury. Given that he has yet to run, it does not appear he is going to beat that projection. Until he does start running, it's tough to even venture a guess as to how soon he could return.
New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes (hamstring) is making progress -- he's fielding ground balls and hitting -- but is still not expected to return from the DL when eligible, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. There is no indication as to when he will test his running, but it sounds as if the Mets are being understandably cautious with their speedy infielder, given his history of hamstring issues and a previous DL stint this year for the same injury.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: The San Francisco Giants have injury concerns. No sooner do they make what looks to be the key trade to get them to the postseason, their acquisition, outfielder Carlos Beltran, suffers a vague hand injury. He has been day-to-day for more than a week, and even after getting a cortisone shot several days ago, the symptoms appear to be lingering. Beltran did not recall a specific time it happened, although it appeared to begin after an at-bat in which he struck out. The San Jose Mercury News reports Beltran could be out for the entire series against the Atlanta Braves if he cannot take batting practice. Could a DL stint be close behind?
Meanwhile the Giants are hoping there will be no second visit to the DL for Pablo Sandoval. The Panda fouled a ball off his foot in the first inning of Monday's game and was sent for X-rays. Fortunately they came back negative, but how long it takes for his foot to tolerate running and pivoting during his swing remains to be seen. In closing (see what I did there?), the Giants' closer and personality extraordinaire, Brian Wilson, is dealing with a sore back. Wilson managed to pitch through the issue Monday but blew the save. Whether the back was a factor is unclear. Stay tuned.