Stephania Bell: Roy Halladay
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.
In honor of the 2013 MLB All-Star Game and accompanying festivities at Citi Field in New York City this week, it’s time once again to compile a roster of All-Injured All-Stars. Members of this roster are selected from:
a. Players who were chosen for this year’s All-Star game but could not participate due to injury
b. Past All-Stars who might have had the potential to earn another trip in 2013 were it not for the injuries that beset them this year.
Just as was the case in 2012, this year’s list offered multiple options at nearly every position in both the American and National Leagues. In other words, there is no denying the impact of injuries on the game. Not everyone who could possibly qualify is listed. Some are making a repeat appearance after making this list last season (a dubious distinction denoted with an asterisk). The selections here, just as with the actual All-Star roster, are debatable. But as the manager of the injury roster, the selections are at my discretion.
And now, I hereby present the 2013 All-Injured All-Stars.
Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Ryan Howard's health likely will be an issue for the next few years.
1B: *Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies: Howard made the 2012 All-Injury roster as he was recovering from an Achilles tendon repair, a recovery slowed by setbacks in the spring. This year, the three-time All Star started the season on time but was placed on the DL on July 6 with a meniscus tear. Howard underwent surgery and is projected to be out for six to eight weeks (the Phillies hope to have him back and playing with the club in that time frame), a reasonable projection if all goes well with the rehab process. Still, the Achilles rupture and the meniscus injury have both been on Howard’s left side, which raises the level of concern about how that leg will treat the 33-year-old going forward.
2B: Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks: Although Hill has technically returned from the DL, there is little doubt that his injury derailed the All-Star second baseman’s season after a solid start. That too, the injury is not completely out of the picture. Hill sustained a nonunion fracture in his hand after being hit by a pitch. Ultimately, he was given clearance to try to play through it if the pain didn’t limit him. He has been able to do so, although the team is taking precautions to have him avoid overusing it. The risk remains that it could be aggravated during the course of the season and force him out of the lineup again.
SS: Rafael Furcal, St. Louis Cardinals: Last year at this time, Furcal was making an appearance in the All-Star game; this year he has not made an appearance in a major league game. After spraining his ulnar collateral ligament, Furcal tried to go the conservative route, but during spring training this year, his elbow failed him. After undergoing Tommy John surgery and spending the rest of this year rehabbing the elbow, Furcal hopes to return next season.
3B: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers: Ramirez has been plagued by a problematic left knee since the spring. The Brewers have attempted to manage the problem by giving him intermittent days off. The challenge with the knee sprain, sustained back in March, is that if there is any residual instability (which there appears to be, based on how his knee has behaved), it can easily become aggravated by an awkward movement that causes the knee to give way, such as a diving defensive play, a quick directional change or a slide while running the bases. Despite his attempt to play regularly through the injury, the All-Star third baseman has been limited at times by the knee and recently aggravated it to the point of requiring a second DL stint. In fact, teammate Ryan Braun was brought off the DL a few days sooner than expected when it became clear Ramirez would be heading back. The symptoms from this latest episode will likely settle fairly soon, and Ramirez should be able to then increase his activity and return to the lineup. But what the two trips to the DL along with the controlled management of his playing time tell us is that we can expect the uncertainty around Ramirez and his knee to continue throughout the season.
C: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals: We’re cheating a little bit by placing Molina here since it appears he will play in the All-Star game, despite the threat of injury. Molina’s knee began to bother him about a month ago, suddenly worsening last week and making it difficult for him to run. An MRI revealed no structural damage and after a few days rest, Molina returned to the lineup this weekend, seemingly without issue. It’s hard to imagine that an injury that has plagued him for the better part of a month would suddenly have disappeared, especially for a catcher whose job demands take a toll on the knees. It’s terrific that the National League’s leading vote-getter will be there for the fans. Let’s hope it doesn’t mean he won’t be there for them later this season.
Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports After missing very few games early in his career, Matt Kemp has dealt with DL stints each of the past two seasons.
OF: *Carl Crawford and *Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers; Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves: Crawford seemed to bounce back this season after spending most of 2012 on the DL, first for lingering wrist pain and weakness following offseason surgery, then for a torn ulnar collateral ligament that ultimately required season-ending Tommy John surgery. The injury bug appeared to be in the rearview mirror in 2013. Unfortunately, that changed in June when Crawford suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for several weeks. Just a week removed from the DL stint for his hamstring, Crawford was out of the lineup with back stiffness. Although an MRI turned up “nothing really significant,” according to manager Don Mattingly, Crawford has yet to return. At 31, it’s more difficult for Crawford to bounce back from these nagging types of injuries, making it more of a worry that the hamstring or the back -- or both -- could be problematic for Crawford for the remainder of the season.
Kemp’s performance in 2013 wouldn’t have earned him a spot on the All-Star team this year, even if he were healthy, but his talent has made him a regular in years past. Last year, a hamstring injury that flared up as soon as he returned from his initial DL stint caused him to miss more time than he ever had in his major league career. Now he is set to challenge that statistic this season with consecutive DL appearances for different injuries (a hamstring strain on the opposite side of last year’s injury followed by AC joint inflammation in his post-operative shoulder). The injuries only compounded the rough start Kemp was experiencing following his offseason labral repair. It always seemed likely that Kemp would improve in the second half of this year as he rediscovered his power swing. Now the hope is that he can simply be healthy enough to have the opportunity to do so. As of now, the end of the month appears to be the target for Kemp’s return, and the Dodgers are hoping to see the pre-2013 version of their star outfielder.
The entire Braves outfield is hurting right now, but it is Upton who has the most All-Star appearances of the three, hence his name at this position. Upton strained his calf muscle, but by all accounts, it sounds minor and he could return within the week.
SP: *Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies; *Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals: Is it a coincidence that these two are repeat honorees? Probably not, especially given that their situations last year portended greater concern for their health heading into this season.
In 2012, Halladay was sidelined with a strained lat, an injury he was able to return from in just under two months. This year, when his performance suffered in an eerily similar manner to last year, Halladay was quicker to acknowledge there was perhaps an underlying physical problem. Indeed, Halladay was dealing with damage to his rotator cuff which required surgery to repair. After undergoing surgery, Halladay has embarked on an intensive rehab program. He has made it clear that he hopes to return this year, although it is not likely to be before September.
Carpenter underwent thoracic outlet surgery in 2012 to alleviate nerve compression that was causing weakness and pain in his throwing shoulder and arm. Surprisingly, he recovered well enough to rejoin his team for the postseason, but he did not pitch like his usual self. After taking some time to re-evaluate whether he even wanted to return to baseball, Carpenter dedicated himself to a focused rehab process … again. Despite several setbacks along the way, he is nearing the point where he could contribute to the Cardinals’ stable, as a starter. Carpenter is set to begin a rehab assignment Monday, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which could pave the way for a late-season return.
RP: J.J. Putz, Arizona Diamondbacks: Technically, Putz has returned to his major league team after missing extensive time due to injury. An exception was made to include him in the list because he isn’t truly back yet, as evidenced by some of his lingering struggles. A sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm had the former All-Star sidelined for virtually all of May and June. Shortly after returning, Putz blew a save, leaving us to wonder whether he had really fully recovered or whether he was just rusty. For now, he is operating in a support relief role, but the big question is whether he can pitch on a regular basis without any recurring elbow pain.
1B: *Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees: Youkilis wasn’t going to make this year’s All-Star team, but he’s certainly made enough of them in the past to warrant making this All-Star roster. Hip and back problems have limited Youkilis intermittently for years, and this time, his back would not let him get comfortable. He ultimately had to go the route of back surgery in June and is expected to be out for approximately three months. It’s worth noting that the recovery timetable following this procedure is very fluid, so any setback could throw off that schedule. Despite his age (34), Youkilis is taking a chapter out of teammate Derek Jeter's book and expects to come back, although it remains to be seen whether he’s able to do so this year.
2B: Omar Infante, Detroit Tigers: After getting taken out by a hard slide in a game in early July, Infante’s injury was initially called a contusion. It was later announced that he had sprained his ankle, and Infante was placed on the DL but was expected back immediately following the All-Star break. Now it appears the ankle is recovering a little more slowly than expected, and manager Jim Leyland cautions that Infante may require a little more time. While this doesn’t have the sounds of a particularly serious injury, Infante still needs to move well enough to make defensive plays in addition to running the bases. A few extra days now will translate to a smaller likelihood of lingering problems in the second half.
Elsa/Getty Images Derek Jeter has played just one game this season, and he was hurt in that one.
SS: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees: No matter how hard he tried to return to the lineup to start the season, it just wasn’t meant to be for Jeter. After undergoing surgery to stabilize his fractured ankle last fall, Jeter appeared on track with his progression until pain during spring training interrupted his running program. Imaging studies revealed a second small crack, and Jeter’s program was put on hold to allow the bone to heal. As the bone healed to the point where he could resume running, Jeter progressed rapidly through his rehab progression. In fact, he progressed so well that the team opted to have him return prior to the All-Star break. He lasted less than one complete game.
During his first game back, Jeter’s 39-year-old quadriceps muscle tightened up on him, and he was forced out for the day. The Yankees are hopeful that this represents only a minor setback for the veteran given that it is a Grade 1 (mild) strain. After some rest and a few days to recover, it’s possible he could be ready to go after the break, although the Yankees may ease him back with alternating days off and DH usage.
3B: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees: It’s not surprising that the multiple-time All-Star is on the DL at this point. When he underwent January surgery to repair the labrum in his hip, Rodriguez was expected to be out until after the All-Star break. Still, it was uncertain whether his rehab would proceed smoothly and allow him to be on track for a July return. Minus the distractions associated with both the Biogenesis scandal and his recent rehab status updates on Twitter, Rodriguez has experienced a fairly smooth recovery. The last physical hurdle he needs to cross before rejoining the Yankees is a complete rehab assignment, and he is well on his way. On Monday, he graduated to Double-A Trenton as part of his progression towards major league competition. According to the New York Post, Rodriguez says his legs “feel good” and the plan, as he understands it, is to rejoin the team July 22. Although he hasn’t shown much at the plate thus far -- after being out of baseball for the bulk of the last nine months -- the rust is not surprising. While his physical condition is improving, there may be other hurdles -- other than of his hip -- which prevent him from contributing for the remainder of this season.
C: Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees: Admittedly, Cervelli is a reach here as he has never been an All-Star. But with no one else really competing for a slot, he gets the nod as the starting catcher. Cervelli has been on the DL since late April after suffering a fracture in his right hand, which required surgery. (Incidentally, the Yankees seem to be leading the league in hit-by-pitches resulting in fractures among starters.) After finally recovering enough to take batting practice, Cervelli was just shut down again due to a stress reaction in his right elbow. It now looks like he will be sidelined until August, and it’s hard to imagine him being effective immediately after being limited from baseball activity for so long.
OF: Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays; Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees; Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox Oh, what a difference a year makes. At this time in 2012, Cabrera was the All-Star Game MVP, and his performance helped secure home-field advantage for his team at the time, the San Francisco Giants, in their World Series appearance. It was a World Series that Cabrera would end up not participating in, due to the fallout from his suspension for testing positive for PEDs. Cabrera then switched leagues in the offseason when he signed with the Blue Jays. This year, he finds himself on the DL with what is being called left knee tendinitis. The good news is that he has begun a rehab assignment and should be able to rejoin his team shortly after the All-Star break, barring a setback. After going from the highest high to the lowest low last year, then following it with injury this year (which, so far, appears to be minor), Cabrera has to be ready to turn the page in the second half.
Granderson can’t catch a break this year. Or, maybe he can actually do it a little too well. After starting the season on the DL with a wrist fracture sustained when he was hit by a pitch during spring training, Granderson made his season debut in May. It was short-lived, however, as Granderson lasted just days before sustaining another fracture, also the result of being hit by a pitch. This time, he sustained a break to a bone in his hand that required surgical stabilization. For a while, Granderson struggled to grip the bat, and his progress back to baseball activities was slow as a result. As of now, he has begun taking swings but still needs to return to batting practice before a rehab assignment is even in the picture. Granderson still appears to be a few weeks from rejoining the team, and even then, some apprehension about exactly what he can deliver at the plate -- at least initially -- is justified.
Victorino has been in and out of the Red Sox lineup for much of the season with some variant of low back, hip or hamstring pain, which all seem interrelated, per manager John Farrell. The problem with this complex injury is that, as it moves around, it becomes more difficult to treat and slower to resolve. It’s just as well Victorino isn’t part of the All-Star festivities as his body can certainly use the rest. Given that Victorino has already missed a month’s worth of games this season combined with the fact that this problem has not gone away, there is definitely reason to be worried about how his body will hold up for the second half.
Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Getty Images Yu Darvish won't pitch in the All-Star game, but will he be able to go when eligible next week?
SP: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers; Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox: Darvish would have been a fan favorite in this year’s All-Star Game, and matchups between him and some of the NL's heavy hitters would have been eagerly anticipated. Unfortunately, those matchups won’t be happening because of Darvish’s recent placement on the DL with an upper back strain. He has struggled with giving up runs in recent outings, and the team is describing his ailment as fatigue in his upper trapezius. It’s not your typical diagnosis, and it suggests he is experiencing associated neck or upper back stiffness. The question is how long the injury has been bothering Darvish and whether his performance of late can be attributed, at least in part, to his health. While the Rangers sound confident that he will return when eligible on July 22, consider that Red Sox ace Clay Buchholz is reportedly dealing with a similar problem and has been out for over a month. It may not be quite as benign as the team is making it out to be. We won’t really know much until Darvish tries to resume throwing.
Speaking of Buchholz, he started off the season in spectacular fashion, but that came to a crashing halt after an odd injury sidelined him in late May. Buchholz claimed an awkward sleeping position resulted in soreness in his AC joint. Within a week, the problem evolved into a neck issue that was not initially considered serious, but Buchholz has yet to return. In fact, he has yet to make a rehab start; that has been delayed until after the All-Star break. The expectation is that Buchholz will be ready to return by late July, but his recovery process has not been smooth. Until he is able to return to competition and string together consecutive starts, there remains some concern.
RP: Jesse Crain, Chicago White Sox: Oh, the injustice. Crain was named to his first All-Star game only to be sidelined with an injury to his throwing shoulder. Crain was placed on the DL in early July after experiencing tightness in his right shoulder while warming up. The soreness continues to linger when Crain attempts to throw, but it’s unclear just how serious the team thinks this particular episode is. Crain does have a history with his shoulder, having undergone surgery several years ago to address rotator cuff and labral damage. It’s never encouraging to hear about problems resurfacing in a thrower’s shoulder, but it’s too soon to establish whether this is a minor incident that will resolve itself with rest or the beginning of a decline.
It is never good news when a pitcher says he is headed for shoulder surgery, given the inconsistent results and uncertain outcomes associated with procedures in that area and in that population. So when Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay announced Wednesday that he will undergo surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder to address a bone spur, fraying in his labrum and a partial rotator cuff tear and said he thinks this is "very good news," it took everyone by surprise. Halladay added it is his understanding that he has a "good chance" of returning this season.
"I have a good chance to come back and pitch this year and hopefully be a lot more effective," Halladay said. "They said that my range of motion will be better, my location will be better and hopefully the velocity will be better."
So which is it? Gloom and doom, or sunshine and roses? The truth, as they say, is somewhere in the middle.
Part of the challenge, however, in evaluating comparables when it comes to pitchers and shoulder pathology is that the injuries themselves can be highly variable. The extent of damage to the soft tissues -- such as labrum, biceps tendon and rotator cuff -- and the precise location can influence recovery. The health of the shoulder joint and the strength of the musculature both directly and indirectly responsible for shoulder function play a role. And just as the anatomical variants are unique to each pitcher, so are the intangibles -- the work ethic, the mental toughness, the belief in one's own recovery -- all of which likely contribute to a return to play in a manner that is impossible to quantify. So yes, it is concerning that Halladay is headed for surgery, but it isn't necessarily a career death sentence.
And what about the upside?
While any surgical procedure on a thrower's shoulder carries inherent risk, it is entirely possible, likely even, that this is the treatment option that could allow Halladay to extend his already impressive career. The findings Halladay described (labral and cuff damage) are not uncommon in veteran throwers who have pitched more than 1,000 innings, much less the 2,700-plus innings he has racked up over his professional career. If indeed the presence of a spur -- a bony growth typically formed in response to repeated stress -- is accelerating the soft tissue damage, taking down the spur should provide some relief to that tissue. Cleaning up the associated soft tissue structures also provides reinforcement to the thrower's shoulder. The strengthening regimen Halladay undertook during the offseason targeted the musculature supporting his shoulder with the goal of preserving his health. Although it couldn't completely prevent the inevitable given the degenerative changes in his shoulder, it may help speed his recovery following this procedure. Consider it "learning" that his shoulder girdle has already acquired and can build upon following surgery.
Combine the recently acquired strength with the overall physical health Halladay has exhibited across his career. Three DL trips were entirely unrelated to his throwing arm. They included a leg fracture as a result of being hit by a ball (random), an appendectomy (not a durability issue) and a groin strain (a minor ailment that resolved quickly). Problems with his throwing arm have landed Halladay on the DL three times in his career. The first episode was tendinitis in 2004, perhaps an early flicker of the more profound problems he is facing currently. Last year's trip to the DL with a lat strain seemed to foreshadow the consequences of wear and tear that Halladay can no longer avoid. Suffice it to say Halladay has put in far more days on the mound than many of his peers and has an outstanding health track record for a pitcher. This bodes well for his ability to recover.
As do those intangibles. Halladay is not speaking like someone who is concerned that his career is in jeopardy. He sounds like someone who is setting a goal of returning this season and who, barring an unexpected discovery during surgery, plans to achieve it. It is not automatic that he will return this year, but based on what Halladay outlined as the planned procedure, it is also not impossible to think he could come back late in the season. We do not typically hear of pitchers returning from shoulder surgery better than before; rather we hope for them to be able to return to close to their prior form. Yet Halladay spoke Wednesday of turning back the clock via surgery. The athlete's mindset is not insignificant when it comes to accomplishing rehab goals, and Halladay certainly has the necessary outlook.
There is little doubt that Halladay's range of motion will be better after surgery, just as he predicted. The unknown until he retakes the mound will be whether his location and velocity will be restored to the point where he can be dominant once again. History tells us that the odds of returning to form following shoulder surgery are not in a pitcher's favor. History also tells us that Halladay has defied the odds thus far in his career. It seems like the greater risk may be in betting against him.
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.
HittersBrian McCann, C, Atlanta Braves (opened season on DL, expected to return May 6): McCann has been on the radar of many fantasy owners looking forward to his season debut. It appears that day has arrived. According to news reports, manager Fredi Gonzalez says McCann will be active and with the team Monday when the Braves open a series in Cincinnati. McCann underwent surgery to repair the labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder in October and has been working his way back since. Although he has been hitting throughout the spring, the slower component of his return was throwing. McCann says he is now making the necessary throws, telling reporters this week, "The way I'm throwing now is basically the way I was throwing before I got hurt." While that is all good news as far as performance expectations, the Braves have indicated that McCann would not return to an everyday role immediately. Fantasy owners should keep tabs on the Braves' daily lineups for the next few weeks to check McCann's status.
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers (placed on DL May 4, timetable uncertain): No sooner did Ramirez rejoin his team than he departed again, this time with a strained left hamstring that required him to be helped off the field. After wasting no time proving his surgically repaired thumb was a nonissue, as evidenced by him going yard in his season debut, Ramirez injured his lower half running the bases Friday night. Difficulty putting weight on it reflected the severity of the injury. Manager Don Mattingly did not shy away from the likelihood Ramirez would miss more than the minimum stay, telling reporters, "It's going to be a while." In fact, Mattingly referenced Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp's injury of last year. Kemp, who was injured at virtually this same time of year, returned after a minimal DL stint only to reinjure his hamstring two days later. He then went back on the DL for more than a month.
Interestingly, Ramirez had not been sidelined for extended time with a left hamstring strain previously; however, he did have a 2011 DL stint for sciatica and numbness in his left leg associated with a lower back problem. It is not unusual clinically to see hamstring strains on the same side as previous sciatic episodes; whether they are directly or indirectly related -- or completely unrelated -- is often difficult to determine. The bottom line is that Ramirez will not be rushed, but as is always the case with hamstring injuries, until he returns successfully without a flare-up, there will be reason for concern about the potential for recurrence.
Michael Bourn, OF, Cleveland Indians (placed on DL April 15; expected to return late this week): It seems as if the "spike to the hand" is the injury du jour in baseball this season. And the injuries are proving to be a bit more challenging to return from than one might think. (Last week in this space, we discussed Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, who has a similar injury and was placed on the DL after having difficulty swinging a bat.) Bourn sustained a laceration to his right index finger when he dove into first base and his hand met the foot of pitcher Matt Thornton. It required five stitches to close the wound, and the DL move was not a surprise; the time allowed the finger time to heal.
What may come as more of a surprise to many was how difficult the injury can be to hit with. Bourn must close his fingers around the grip, which can be a challenge following a laceration. Bourn was finally able to take live batting practice Friday, and he's expected to begin a rehab assignment Monday. Manager Terry Francona told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that Bourn likely will need three games before he can rejoin the team. The organization likely want him to get enough at-bats to test how his grip is holding up against live pitching and for him to feel comfortable with his timing.
Angel Pagan, OF, San Francisco Giants (day-to-day): Pagan got an early warning sign that his right hamstring was not feeling quite right Saturday night, and he sat out Sunday's game as a result. The good news for Pagan and the Giants is that it was not as severe an injury as that of Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez or Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. As the San Francisco Chronicle noted, by coming out of the game shortly after feeling a "twinge" Saturday, the hope is that Pagan did not suffer significant tissue damage. Although he told reporters he hopes to play Monday night, manager Bruce Bochy said, "He's not going to be out there if this thing bothers him at all." Given the relative ease with which these injuries become more serious and the time off becomes more protracted, it would not be surprising if Pagan is held out for at least day or two to allow the hamstring to settle.
Jayson Werth, OF, Washington Nationals (day-to-day): Werth is trying to press through not one but two ailments. He suffered pain and swelling in his left ankle and foot area when he fouled a ball off it Tuesday. Fortunately, X-rays showed no fracture, and he has been able to play, despite some discomfort. His hamstring, however, is another story.
Werth began experiencing cramping in the back of his thigh earlier in the same game he fouled the ball off his foot, making his slightly early exit fortuitous. It appears that wasn't enough, though, to keep the hammy from pestering him some more. It tightened up further on Thursday, and Werth has not played since exiting that game early.
One of the most challenging decisions for a medical staff is how long to hold out an athlete who is experiencing discomfort in the hamstring. While the player may feel nothing at rest or during warmups, it is virtually impossible to simulate the maximum effort of in-game play, which is most likely to aggravate it. The obvious concern is potentially losing an athlete for an extended time to a more serious injury. That said, it's difficult to force the athlete to sit when he can pass all the pregame tests and has no symptom complaints. At this point, there is no indication Werth is headed for the DL, and he might even be able to return to the lineup Tuesday after sitting out the weekend series. This doesn't have a great feel about it, as the lingering concern for fantasy owners will be just how well -- and how long -- his hamstring will hold up.
PitchersRoy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia Phillies (DTD): Halladay has admitted to experiencing shoulder discomfort and will be traveling to Los Angeles for a consultation with Dr. Lewis Yocum. According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, Halladay began feeling discomfort in the shoulder the morning after his April 24 start. Halladay said the soreness "just kind of progressed over the last two weeks or so." Now they will try to get to the bottom of what exactly is causing this soreness. When speaking with reporters Sunday, Halladay also indicated this was the first time he had experienced this particular ailment, suggesting it was not the same sensation he had last year when he was diagnosed with a latissimus dorsi strain. The team has not yet confirmed a move to the DL, but it seems inevitable. At age 35, with the accumulated pitching mileage on his throwing shoulder, there was reason to be concerned heading into this season that Halladay's body would start showing signs it was unable to keep up with the physical demands of another baseball year. It is likely he will be shut down from throwing for a period of time; hopefully after his visit to the West Coast, we will learn more.
May 6 addendum: The Phillies have officially placed Halladay on the DL, recalling left-hander Joe Savery from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take his place on the roster.
With the regular season just about to start, here's a list of notable injury situations and their timetable for a return. Fantasy owners can and should adjust their lineups or draft strategies accordingly.
1. All projections reflect expectations as of March 29 and should be considered fluid after that date.
2. Opening Day ready = Expected to be "active" on Opening Day, not necessarily in lineup on Opening Day. For pitchers, first game depends on where slotted in rotation.
Brett Lawrie, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (due back April): Intercostal strain will sideline him into the first week or two of the season, but a cautious return should help prevent a setback. Bigger concern is tendency to play with reckless abandon. Fun to watch, but may increase risk.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, San Francisco Giants (Opening Day ready): An irritated ulnar nerve forced Panda to rest for several days in March, but he claims he's ready to return. I admire his enthusiasm but can't say definitively that this is behind him.
Chase Headley, 3B, San Diego Padres (due back late April): Left thumb fracture will delay Headley's regular-season debut by about a month. The good news is that it shouldn't hinder him after he returns.
Curtis Granderson, OF, New York Yankees (due back mid-May): No surgery needed for Granderson's small fracture. No reason to worry about his ability to produce once he returns to the lineup.
Hanley Ramirez, SS/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers (due back mid- to late-May): Ramirez will miss a couple months of playing time following surgery to repair his torn thumb ligament. The concern is that his performance at the plate could suffer a bit longer.
David Freese, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals (due back April): His back injury doesn't appear serious, but the Cardinals want Freese to see more at-bats before his regular-season debut. Recurrence is possible, but the minor nature of this episode keeps the worry factor low.
Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees (due back April): Jeter's post-surgery soreness is not unusual. In fact, it will likely take a few months for his ankle to feel normal again. He may return in April but he may not really return until June.
Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York Yankees (due back May/June): A partially torn tendon sheath is what Jose Bautista had ... and then he had surgery. 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.
Corey Hart, 1B/OF, Milwaukee Brewers (due back May): The key to Hart's post-surgical knee staying healthy is not returning too soon. The team has been good about controlling his activity thus far, so don't expect them to rush him now. Late May is the most likely scenario.
Brian McCann, C, Atlanta Braves (due back April/May): He's recently returned to hitting, but restrictions on McCann's post-labral repaired throwing shoulder remain in place. Once he returns, it may take a bit to ramp up, but look for a strong second half.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, New York Yankees (due back around All-Star Break): If he's rehabbing as diligently as he says, Rodriguez should be poised for an uneventful return. The hip may be healthy, but he's still an aging player with mounting injury concerns.
For a more thorough progress report of pitchers returning from injury or surgery, see this blog entry.
Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals (Opening Day ready): He opted for rehab instead of surgery for a small (left) rotator cuff tear and has been fine through a handful of spring outings. Starting season strong, but will he last?
Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies (Opening Day ready): Halladay insists there's no injury, but his performance this spring is a concern. Last year he said there was no injury, either. Then he went on the DL and missed nearly two months. This could be the start of the talented veteran's decline.
C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels (Opening Day ready): Underwent arthroscopic surgery in October to address a bone spur and has had no issues with the elbow this spring. Consider this: He's had only two DL stints in his big league career. Aging but durable. Low level of concern.
Phil Hughes, New York Yankees (due back early April): A bulging disc in his back derailed Hughes' spring. He has bounced back quickly, but let's face it, injuries are always going to be a concern with Hughes.
Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs (due back May): Ended last season with stress fracture in right elbow, started this spring with strained lat. Sum total of injuries raises concern.
Shaun Marcum, New York Mets (Opening Day uncertain): Elbow issues last year, now shoulder and neck this spring. Don't like where this is headed. Even if he avoids the DL now, it may only be a matter of time.
Brandon Beachy, Atlanta Braves (due back June/July): On track post-Tommy John surgery. No major concerns, just temper expectations to the typical ups and downs of the first year back.
Relief PitchersJason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals (no timetable, expected to start season on DL): Diagnosed with a "small" tear in his flexor tendon, Motte is reportedly feeling better. He will have to prove he can throw without pain before returning, then hope the injury doesn't worsen across the season.
Ryan Madson, Los Angeles Angels (due back April): After Tommy John surgery last April, Madson is closing in on a return. But the normal inconsistencies that a pitcher first displays after this operation -- and a guy named Ernesto Frieri -- suggest Madson isn't a lock to close.
Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays (Opening Day ready): After November surgery on his AC joint, a slow spring initially threatened Janssen's Opening Day status. He's recently turned a corner but there's still a bit of concern about how an uptick in work (think: frequency) will affect him.
In honor of the festivities taking place in Kansas City today around the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, it seemed appropriate to compile a roster of All-Injured All-Stars. The qualifiers for this roster were selected from:
• Players who were chosen for this year's All-Star game but could not participate due to injury
• Past All-Stars who might have had the potential to earn another trip in 2012 were it not for the injuries that beset them this year.
The sad fact is that this was a relatively easy list to compile. Outside of one or two spots that required a stretch to meet the inclusion criteria, it was not difficult to find candidates for each position in both the American and National Leagues. Does that make this year any better or worse than previous years? I'm not sure, but it does remind us how much injuries can impact the game. Not everyone who could possibly qualify is listed. Naturally, as with the actual All-Star roster, there will be debate. But like the managers in the All-Star get to select their lineups, these are my picks, undoubtedly influenced by the number of times their names make an appearance in questions fielded during chats, podcasts, blog entries and Twitter posts.
May I present to you the 2012 All-Injured All-Stars?
1B: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies: Howard finally made his 2012 debut just before the All-Star break after he ruptured his Achilles tendon in his last at-bat of last year's playoffs. Complications following an infection slowed his recovery. The Phillies are hoping for offensive contributions from Howard -- and he has delivered a couple of hits -- but since his return, the team has yet to earn a victory. Howard is still not a daily player as he is easing back into the lineup, and even he acknowledges his leg is not likely to return to 100 percent until next year.
2B: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies: Like his fellow infielder on this roster, Utley started the season on the DL and only recently returned to action. Working through chronic patellofemoral pain (pain under the kneecap), Utley underwent an intensive, focused rehabilitation program to be able to get back to baseball. It was slow and deliberate, but how long he will be able to hold up once he is playing on a regular basis is unknown. The Phillies like what they see so far; a couple of home runs, a few RBIs and, most importantly, no setbacks. If only that can last.
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies: Tulowitzki was bothered intermittently by groin pain this season, but a setback during a rehab assignment led to eventual surgery to debride scar tissue from around a nerve. Tulowitzki was projected to be out approximately 6-8 weeks following the procedure, which translates to an August return. Until he resumes baseball activities, it will be difficult to assess how close he is to seeing any game action.
3B: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals: Zimmerman has certainly been playing like an All-Star ever since receiving his latest cortisone injection in his right shoulder. The big question on everyone's mind is whether it will last. Zimmerman initially had trouble with the shoulder in April, which ultimately landed him on the DL. Even after the time off, Zimmerman continued to have discomfort and it showed at the plate. In June, there was discussion about a cortisone shot or even another DL stint. The shot seems to have done the trick, though, and hopefully when post-All-Star play resumes, Zimmerman's shoulder will still be feeling good.
C: Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers: Admittedly, this is a bit of a reach, but Lucroy was batting .345 when he went out with a broken hand in May and there was abundant chatter about his potential selection to the 2012 All-Star roster. Exhibit A from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in May: "He has five homers and 29 RBIs in addition to his gaudy batting average, putting him in the conversation for an All-Star Game appearance." Who knows what might have been? Instead, Lucroy is working his way back toward a return. He has been throwing and running, and was recently cleared to start swinging a bat, putting him on pace to return in late July.
OF: Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals; Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins; Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers: Werth qualifies for the most dramatic injury after he broke his left wrist when his glove caught in the grass as he was attempting to make a sliding catch. To complicate matters, this was the same wrist on which Werth had undergone a prior surgical procedure in 2006. The initial timetable for Werth was projected at three months, but the good news is that he is expected to start swinging a bat sometime after the All-Star break. Let's see how his wrist tolerates those swings before thinking about upping his return date.
Stanton was a late scratch from both the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby when he was removed from Saturday's game with soreness in his right knee. After undergoing surgery Sunday morning to remove loose bodies, it will be a few weeks before he is ready to return.
Kemp has missed more time this year than he has at any point thus far in his career because of a finicky hamstring strain. Known for his ability to play virtually every day over the past few years, Kemp was reluctantly forced onto the DL in the hope of preventing a more serious injury. He then had to return to the DL when the hamstring acted up in only his second game back. Kemp's timetable has been slower this time around and he was deliberately kept on a lengthier rehab assignment to force more situational running. Everything seems to be pointing to his return to the lineup this Friday when the Dodgers are back in action.
SP: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies; Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: The Phillies tie the Nationals with the most members on this NL roster, but the Phillies win in terms of the importance of the players lost to their team (no hard feelings, injured Nationals). To go along with starting infielders Utley and Howard, the Phillies lost one of their most durable and consistent starters in Halladay, who was forced onto the DL with a strained lat. Despite his denials, it seemed as though the injury was affecting him, even if in a subtle manner, since the spring and ultimately the discomfort caught up to him. Halladay has been sidelined since late May but has been steadily progressing in his throwing program. He is expected to make a rehab start Thursday, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that if all goes well, he could then rejoin the Phillies for a Tuesday start against the Dodgers.
Carpenter has been either very good or very injured. This year, unfortunately, it was the latter and he was plagued by weakness in his throwing shoulder since the spring. Tests confirmed thoracic outlet syndrome (which he has actually been dealing with for several years but has progressed to the point where he can no longer pitch) and Carpenter is scheduled for surgery later this month. The rehab is long and there are no guarantees, but Carpenter hopes to be able to pitch again next season.
RP: Brian Wilson, San Francisco Giants: What a difference a year makes. Last year, Wilson was participating in the All-Star Game. This year he is recovering from Tommy John surgery No. 2. Wilson struggled late last season and even had his elbow examined after it was causing him discomfort. The hope was that the offseason rest had helped sufficiently, but it didn't take long to find out that was not the case. Just two weeks into the season, Wilson was done and headed for Dr. James Andrews' office. Whether he will be available to pitch at the start of next season remains uncertain.
1B: Kevin Youkilis, Chicago White Sox: Whether it was his back injury that landed him on the DL this spring or his general malaise while in the murky Boston Red Sox situation, Youkilis was not performing up to par. The three-time All Star -- who also spent the offseason recovering from surgery to address a core muscle injury -- was not going to be making this year's Midseason Classic. It's worth noting, though, that his performance thus far with his new club has certainly been reminiscent of the Youkilis of old.
2B: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox: A partial tear of a thumb muscle is likely to blame, at least in part, for Pedroia's struggles at the plate in June. Pedroia was not voted into the 2012 All-Star Game, which may be just as well, because he suffered yet another thumb injury just last week. A diving play resulted in an injury to the volar plate of Pedroia's thumb, the fibrocartilaginous tissue deep in the joint that helps block hyperextension. He is expected to miss several weeks.
SS: None: There were no real candidates for this position based on the inclusion criteria. Something tells me this should make AL shortstops a bit nervous about the second half of the season.
3B: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays: Longoria partially tore his left hamstring at the end of April, and his return at this point is anything but certain. In June, he appeared on course, but a rehab outing was cut short when Longoria again felt discomfort in the hamstring. Since that time, there have been wavering suggestions as to when Longoria might resume baseball activities, something which has yet to occur. According to the Tampa Bay Times, manager Joe Maddon said he has no idea when Longoria can return. He then offered perhaps the most precise summation of the challenge of dealing with a partially torn hamstring: "It's a tough injury to overcome and a tough injury to battle back from."
C: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers: The former All-Star underwent surgery in January to repair both the lateral and medial menisci along with a microfracture procedure. His progress has been understandably slow in order to protect the delicate spots on the knee where the microfracture was performed. Based on a recent MRI and clinical evaluation to assess his progress, the Tigers have indicated the soonest (note: soonest) Martinez would return is middle to late September.
OF: Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox; Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians: Just imagine what this outfield could look like when healthy. It's actually difficult to do, as these three players have dealt with extended absences over the past few seasons.
To be fair, Crawford's absence in 2011 was a virtual one; he was healthy but merely a shadow of himself. Then in the offseason, he injured his left wrist and had to undergo surgery to debride a fibrocartilage tear in the joint. A slow recovery was followed by a setback, and just when he seemed on the verge of beginning a rehab assignment, he had elbow pain. It turned out to be a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. No surgery was immediately required (there is some discussion about Crawford having surgery eventually) and he recently embarked on a rehab assignment. That assignment was interrupted by a mild groin strain, and again Crawford's return date has been pushed back. The Red Sox are hoping they will have him in the second half of July.
Ellsbury was hurt early in the season on a collision, which resulted in a shoulder subluxation. He too has started a rehab assignment, and while there is no firm commitment to a date, it sounds as if he could rejoin his team by the weekend.
As for the three time All-Star Sizemore, his healthy days seem to be far fewer than his unhealthy ones in recent years. This year, he is recovering from back surgery, and there is always some question about the true health of his knees. He has actually started a running program and a rehab assignment could be in the not too distant future. No one is counting on a specific date but the Indians would love to see him back on the field at some point in the second half.
SP: C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees; Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels: Sabathia did not want to go on the DL for his mild left groin strain, but the Yankees did not want him to be hurt in September. And so he went. After all, better to rest a minor groin issue now than have compensations turn into a shoulder or elbow injury later. The good news is that he is doing well and is expected to return shortly after the All-Star break.
Haren has never even been on the DL until now. Considering he's pitched in the majors for 10 years, there should be a special All-Star category for that alone. Haren did admit that the stiff back that sent him to the DL has been bothering him since the spring, and he felt his performance was hindering the team. The Angels are hoping for a brief stay.
RP: Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees: Rivera, a medical marvel when it comes to pitching and baseball, suffered the unlikeliest of injuries when he tore his ACL while shagging fly balls during pregame batting practice. The 42-year-old closer quickly made it known that this would not be his exit from baseball. While no one has ruled him out from a late-season return, even Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said he does not expect him back in 2012. No matter what the return date, the fact that he is making such good progress is encouraging.
The Philadelphia Phillies announced Tuesday that ace Roy Halladay was being placed on the DL with a right latissimus dorsi strain. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Despite a solid start to the 2012 season, Halladay has not been very Halladay-like in the month of May. A blown six-run lead on May 2 and a string of subsequent subpar performances had many wondering if something was amiss even before this abbreviated outing. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the lack of consistency in Halladay's pitching was more at issue than the slight drop in his velocity. "He is just not completing his delivery as he has in the past for whatever reason," Dubee said.
Still, Halladay's velocity is down compared to 2011. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Halladay averaged 91.7 mph on his fastball in 2011; in 2012, it is down to an average of 90.7 mph. Perhaps more interesting is that Halladay has actually decreased the reliance on his fastball this year (down 23 percent in terms of types of pitches thrown from 2011) and increased the usage of his cutter (up 17 percent when compared to last year). Combine that with the 1.6 mph drop in velocity on Halladay's cutter and some perceived location changes, and now his most commonly thrown pitch is one that seems to be easier for opposing batters to hit. While there is no way to definitively link the drop in velocity or change in pitch type to Halladay's current shoulder woes, it is certainly interesting to consider since other pitchers have at times exhibited similar fluctuations before yielding to injury. It's worth noting that there were rumblings during spring training about the health of Halladay's arm when he appeared to struggle at times.
After Sunday's game, Halladay offered up his rationale as to why he did not think the shoulder issue to be serious. According to CSNPhilly.com, Halladay said, "I really don't anticipate there being something in there that is shocking," he said. "I think if that were the case, it would have been something I felt more often and probably be a lot more severe." While the results were not "shocking," they certainly merit some concern. Latissimus dorsi, or "lat" strains, as they are commonly called, can prove finicky for both pitchers and hitters in terms of recovery time. The lat is very involved throughout the throwing motion, and although it is not a member of the group of muscles that form the rotator cuff, it is critical for normal function. Like most muscle strains, treatment requires a combination of rest and rehabilitation with a gradual return to activity in the hopes of avoiding aggravation. Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock says Halladay will be shut down for a minimum of three weeks -- meaning no throwing whatsoever -- then will gradually work his way back to the mound. The general timetable suggests Halladay will not return until after the All-Star break.
Halladay has experience with shoulder pain, although it's been quite some time -- eight years, in fact -- since he was sidelined as a result. In 2004, Halladay spent two separate stints on the DL because of shoulder pain but insists he is "smarter now," and he had hopes this would simply be a case of allowing the shoulder to quiet down without a big interruption. While Halladay might not want to acknowledge it, now that he is 35 his shoulder has accumulated significantly more pitching mileage since the last time it ailed him. Despite his best efforts at warding off trouble over his career, this may be a signal that the cumulative trauma of the job is beginning to catch up with him.
Weaver lands on DL
Late Tuesday, the Angels officially placed Weaver on the DL with "inflammation near [a] disc," according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. That Weaver had lingering severe pain hours after he left the mound hinted early on that this was more than a minor spasm. According to the Angels' website, Weaver's pain was in his lower right side, a pain he described as feeling like somebody stabbed him. After the game, Weaver was clearly still limited, telling reporters, "I can't really bend over too much." The inability to bend forward is a hallmark sign of a disc problem, so the news is not altogether surprising. Perhaps more surprising for anyone who has seen the unique delivery of the 6-foot-7 hurler is that he has not had more problems with his back in the past. Weaver's only other DL stint before Tuesday was related to biceps tendinitis back in 2007.
Weaver is hopeful that he will only miss the minimum time, but back problems are very unpredictable. Just ask Roy Oswalt, who, incidentally, just signed with the Texas Rangers. For now, Weaver's status is in the wait-and-see department.
Pedroia waiting for more news on thumbBoston Red Sox All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers after jamming his right thumb Monday. Pedroia appeared to injure his thumb while making a diving play to field a ball in the fifth inning and did not return for the sixth. It turns out the original injury happened long before that diving play; three weeks before to be exact. According to ESPNBoston's Joe McDonald, manager Bobby Valentine explained that Pedroia then aggravated the already sore thumb in his final at-bat Monday. After Monday's game, Valentine indicated Pedroia had swelling in the thumb and predicted he would miss at least Tuesday's game. While it sounded initially as if the Sox did not believe the injury to be particularly serious, Pedroia was scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday. The results have not yet been reported and it is unclear whether Pedroia will miss more time.
Addendum (May 30): The results of Pedroia's MRI revealed a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb, according to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. The medical staff will attempt to craft a brace to pad the area and support the thumb while still allowing Pedroia to play with the injury. If that doesn't work, Pedroia will be forced to the DL, and he could miss several weeks. For more details, check out Gordon Edes' piece on ESPNBoston.com.
As baseball rolls into the second half of the season, the New York Mets are looking to get two big stars back into the lineup, including one Tuesday night. Jose Reyes, the speedy shortstop who has been nursing a minor left hamstring injury, is in the lineup after a successful rehab outing Monday. As recently as last Friday it appeared the Mets would slow the return of Reyes as a measure of caution, but it appears there is enough confidence in his health to bring him back now. As is always the case with these types of injuries, the only way to determine whether Reyes is truly past the hamstring issue will be to see if he is able to play without a setback. At some point, there is nothing further to test in rehab when a player has performed all drills, played in a game situation and has no lingering symptoms. Duplicating the exact scenario of a major league game is nearly impossible, making return to play at the big league level the final test. The Mets will be hoping that Reyes passes with flying colors.
• Pitcher Roy Halladay, normally unflappable, was challenged by the heat in Monday's game and left in the fifth inning, a rare occurrence. Halladay appeared flushed and looked to be struggling -- at times taking long walks off the mound or bending over to rest his hands on his knees -- but resisted valiantly for as long as he could. In the end, the heat won the battle and Halladay's streak of consecutive road starts pitching at least six innings came to a close. Better an early departure than a more serious heat-related consequence (credit Philadelphia Phillies head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan, who visited Halladay on the mound in the fifth and likely helped in the decision for him to exit). The Phillies sound confident that Halladay will make his next scheduled start.
• The Phillies have certainly had their share of injury woes but will be getting one of their injured players back Tuesday, although admittedly at slightly less than 100 percent health. Outfielder Shane Victorino has been sidelined with a sprained right thumb, the result of an awkward fall in the outfield on July 3. Victorino acknowledges that he still has some discomfort in the thumb and, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, will wear a thumb guard while on base. The protective device no doubt is intended to help protect his thumb from getting bent awkwardly during a headfirst slide. As for hitting, Victorino has demonstrated during his rehab outings that he can effectively swing the bat, so barring a setback in the course of play, he should be able to contribute at the plate immediately.
• To DL or not to DL? That seems to be the recurring question for Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who has been up and down with a left calf strain for several weeks. Braun originally sustained the injury July 2, and when the symptoms persisted for several days, he underwent an MRI. Following the MRI, Braun pointed out that the injury appeared to be localized to a tendon behind the knee (tendon bridges muscle to bone and helps transfer the contractile force of the muscle to the bone, resulting in movement; however, it has a poorer blood supply than muscle, which can make it slower to heal). This slower-to-heal tendon appears to be behaving the way these things often do; after a rest period, the injured area feels better and the athlete increases his activity only to experience a recurrence of discomfort when the area is maximally stressed.
Despite the setbacks, the Brewers still do not appear to be thinking a DL stint is required. Manager Ron Roenicke told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on Monday, "We're going day by day. I'm hoping he can play tomorrow." There has to be some concern when an athlete is deliberately trying to hold back while playing for fear of aggravating an injury, particularly one that impacts his ability to play both offense and defense. It's hard to envision this completely resolving while Braun continues to play, or, at the very least, that Braun can play at top level while trying to guard against further injury.
• Is the third time the unlucky charm for Grady Sizemore? He finds himself on the DL for the third time this season (he started the season on the DL following left knee microfracture surgery, then suffered a bone bruise in his right knee in early May during a slide into second base which led to DL stint No. 2), again with a right knee contusion. More concerning than what the injury is being called, however, are the words Sizemore used to describe his fears about this latest setback. According to the Cleveland Indians website, the sharp pain Sizemore experienced in his right knee Sunday as he rounded first base harkened to what he felt in his left knee last summer. "It's similar," Sizemore said. "It's hard to say whether it's the same. I think it's definitely a concern based on what I went through last year. It's the same area and similar symptoms. It does feel a lot like it, but I can't say for sure."
An athlete's instincts are to be taken seriously when it comes to a second occurrence of an injury; for instance when an athlete has experienced a torn ACL, he knows intuitively the moment the same injury occurs on the opposite leg. While there has been no official word yet as to the specifics of the injury to Sizemore's right knee, his concerns and his gut response certainly raise red flags. It's hard not to feel for a young player who has been through the serious injuries and lengthy recoveries that Sizemore has already endured. Here's hoping that his intuition was not correct this time around and that the injury is not severe enough to warrant surgery. In the meantime, it's wait and see.
• Finally, best wishes go out to Texas Rangers CEO and president Nolan Ryan, released from a Houston hospital Tuesday after experiencing discomfort Sunday morning. Ryan has a cardiac history, including double-bypass surgery in 2000, but according to the Rangers, no new developments were discovered during this latest episode. Good news for Ryan and the Rangers, who have no doubt been under particular duress this July. On Tuesday, the team also announced new safety measures for Rangers Ballpark, including raising the height of the railing, following the death of a fan who fell trying to catch a ball earlier this month.