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After going through a hard workout earlier this week to test his hamstring, the Texas Rangers' Nelson Cruz said the words everyone working to help him rehab this injury love to hear. According to the team's website, Cruz said, "It was like it never happened. I didn't feel it. When I went to get treatment, I couldn't remember which leg was hurt."
|Nelson Cruz has not played since May 28 after making his second trip to the disabled list.|
When an athlete is so involved in the workout, the drills and the sport that they truly forget which side is injured, that's a huge clue that he's moving beyond the injury. Particularly in the case of a significant muscle strain, where there is always the risk of re-injury as the athlete ramps up activity, one of the concerns is that the athlete will be tentative. It is a natural inclination to be mentally protective of the injured area, but it is something that an athlete needs to overcome in order to return to the prior level of performance. With Cruz coming off injuries to both hamstrings this season, this level of confidence is particularly important.
To that end, the team has not rushed him, even pushing back a rehab assignment earlier when Cruz complained of some lingering tightness. The Dallas Morning News reports that Cruz is expected to begin a three-game rehab assignment this weekend, the team's final test before potentially activating him next week.
It is impossible to guarantee that the problems won't recur, despite all the best efforts at preparing Cruz for a return. There is no denying that playing at game speed will challenge him differently than anything in his rehab has thus far. Everyone will be holding their breath a little bit when he does rejoin the Rangers. Assuming Cruz does get back with the team next week, there is no reason for fantasy owners to wait to use him, but they will definitely want to keep a watchful eye on his daily status for the first two weeks to see how he holds up.