With the St. Louis Cardinals' loss of Albert Pujols drawing top billing in the injury news Monday, some other injury-related news may have floated under the radar. That is, of course, unless the players connected to those injuries are on your fantasy roster.
Carl Crawford, OF, Boston Red Sox: Crawford made an early exit from Friday's game with a strained left hamstring, as he pulled up while running to third on an infield single in the first inning. Despite the news that Crawford's injury was a Grade 1 (minor) strain, the team took no chances and placed him on the 15-day DL the next day. Given that he has to run the bases and run in the outfield, the risk of aggravating the injury if he rushes back is high. Crawford is on the disabled list for only the second time in his career; the first absence was in 2008 for a hand injury. The team is hopeful that Crawford will only require the minimum stay.
Shaun Marcum, P, Milwaukee Brewers: Marcum left last Friday's game early with what was later termed a left hip flexor strain. As for why he left after just one inning, Marcum said, "I didn't want to take a chance of hurting it worse or actually doing something where I'm missing more time." An MRI taken over the weekend reportedly revealed no significant injury and Marcum threw again Monday. According to the Brewers' website, Marcum threw what pitching coach Rick Kranitz referred to as a "great" bullpen and if he continues to feel good Tuesday, Marcum should make his next scheduled start on Wednesday.
Marcum is the second right-handed pitcher in recent weeks to have a hip flexor strain in his lead leg. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle McClellan recently came off the 15-day DL following a similar injury. According to the Cardinals' website, McClellan believes his particular style of throwing, being "very aggressive on that hip," contributed to the strain he placed on the joint. He spent his recovery time working on making adjustments in that delivery to try and offload the hip. His first outing following his return wasn't fantastic but there were no reports of his hip giving him trouble.
David Freese, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals: Freese suffered a broken bone in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in early May but has been steadily making good progress in his recovery. He underwent surgery after the injury to stabilize the fracture and has been quietly, successfully carrying out his rehab efforts. Tuesday marks a big step forward, however, as Freese is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Memphis. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Freese indicated he could rejoin the Cardinals by late June if all goes well. Freese was originally projected to be absent potentially as long as three months, so a sooner return would be welcomed by him and his teammates. Just last year, however, Freese had the misfortune of suffering a second injury while already out on the disabled list, so he knows better than anyone to take it one day at a time. Still, the Cardinals could use some good news right about now, and Freese's near return just might be it.
Phil Hughes, P, New York Yankees: After a difficult spring when his velocity seemed to have vanished, Hughes appears to have found it again, or so it seems. Hughes underwent a battery of tests to determine whether there was any medical condition responsible for the drop in his velocity, but they yielded no significant findings. And so he simply restarted his season.
The do-over seems to be going much better. Hughes has looked good in bullpen sessions but this week marked a new test. Hughes had his first rehab outing Sunday, delivering 4⅓ innings for Class A Staten Island. The most encouraging news from that day was Hughes' ability to maintain the velocity on his pitches, staying in the low to mid-90s throughout. According to the New York Daily News, manager Joe Girardi was encouraged. "His velocity was good, the velocity on his cutter was good," Girardi said. "It just seems that his arm strength is back." Hughes is due for another couple of rehab starts, at least, but appears as if he could be making his way back to the rotation relatively soon, perhaps in early July. It's difficult to know what to expect long term, especially since Hughes' condition was so puzzling even to those around him. Right now, everyone is just enjoying the fact his ship seems to be righted.
• Other Red Sox in the injury news: Staff ace Josh Beckett was scratched from his Tuesday start as he deals with what manager Terry Francona referred to as "intestinal turmoil." It's surprising Francona doesn't have a similar condition dealing with all the ailments his team has faced recently. Just this past week, pitcher Clay Buchholz (back) joined Crawford on the DL, as did Jed Lowrie, who is now headed west for a consultation with Dr. Lewis Yocum. Lowrie has been trying to play through a sore left shoulder (injured in a collision with Crawford in late May) but last week described a sensation of the shoulder slipping in the joint.
• Atlanta Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson is reportedly feeling better. Hanson was placed on the DL with inflammation in his throwing (right) shoulder. An MRI showed no significant injury, but the Braves opted to rest him proactively. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the team hopes to have him back when eligible on June 28. Meanwhile teammate Brandon Beachy will start Wednesday in place of the injured Hanson. Beachy has been out for more than a month with an oblique strain but said he felt no discomfort after going five innings in a rehab start last week. Once recovered, the re-injury rate for obliques is generally low. If Beachy can deliver a couple of strong outings without incident, this will appear to be behind him.
• Ubaldo Jimenez had a cramp in his right calf Saturday, which ultimately forced him out of the game in the sixth inning. Afterward, Jimenez told the Denver Post that he was "a little bit sore" but did not sound overly concerned.
• The New York Mets' David Wright (stress fracture, back) and Ike Davis (bone bruise, ankle) are both scheduled to be evaluated later this week. Newsday reports Wright played catch Sunday and fielded grounders on his knees. He is sounding optimistic that his healing has progressed enough to earn him clearance to resume baseball activities. Meanwhile Davis is expected to undergo a follow-up evaluation on Wednesday. The hope is that his ankle will have recovered enough for him to tolerate a running progression. Before Davis was placed back in the walking boot, his attempts at running were limited by severe pain.