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April 4, 2:24 PM ET
Fantasy league injuries w/Stephania Bell

Stephania Bell
  (11:03 AM)

Good morning everyone and welcome to the Friday injury chat. Great to have you here - as usual, no shortage of injuries so let's get to your questions!

Ben (NY, NY)

As you are the greatest sports injury analyst of all time, I would like to hear your comments on Miguel Cabrera's injury (my first round pick). Should this recur? Any concerns going forward?

Stephania Bell
  (11:08 AM)

Ben: Flattery gets you as the first one up on the board today - I won't lie. Thanks for making my Friday. Interesting you bring up the recurrence thing. I actually have a blog coming out later today where I bring that up. Apparently the quad bothered him during the winter and was sore in the spring (according to Leyland). If he couldn't get the muscle to fully healthy during the downtime of the year, I have concerns about him getting it fully healthy now. Now it may be just a minor pull, the kind of thing where it tightens up on him from time to time. I have him in one of my leagues too and am not panicking yet, but I am aware that this may be an intermittent problem for him throughout the year.

Umpierre (DC)

Stephania - apparently Randy Johnson's AAA start was ugly. Is he still on target for a mid-april return? Will he be effective once he returns?

Stephania Bell
  (11:12 AM)

Umpierre: Yes, it was an ugly start, but apparently he was working on some different things in that outing. I'm not worried. He is now scheduled to start on APril 14th in SF.

Pat (Madison, WI)

Seems like Gallardo's comeback is going smoothly, will he be 100% when he returns?

Stephania Bell
  (11:13 AM)

Hi Pat: Yes, it does seem to be going very well. I believe he will be 100% when he comes back - and don't expect any lingering problems from the injury.

Scott (Albany NY)

Stephania, Who's winning tomorrow? Also, what type of injury does Putz have and how long will this keep him out of action? Thanks

Stephania Bell
  (11:15 AM)

Scott: Very smart - you know I am rooting for my Jayhawks. In fact, I am here in San Antonio to cheer them on. Can't wait! Now as far as Putz, he has what is called costochondritis - inflammation of the junction between the rib and the cartilage that anchors it to the sternum (breastbone) on the front of the trunk. Not sure how he got it - but it's often from overuse, occasionally trauma. He felt it in the 9th after a pitch earlier this week, may be that he pulled/strained some rib muscles and they affected the joint. Big issue is to get the inflammation to settle before he resumes throwing. 2-3 weeks sounds like a reasonable time frame - assuming no setbacks.

Pete (ny)

Stephania, What's up with Kazmir? Im in a keeper league and i kept him at a good price hoping he would put it all together this year. Is his injury a concern for the whole season?? Thanks.

Stephania Bell
  (11:19 AM)

Hi Pete: Well, with these elbow and shoulder injuries to pitchers, it's really an ongoing battle - and they are always at risk for recurrence. That being said, conservative shoulder rehab (in the absence of any major pathology) tends to do better than conservative elbow rehab, for the most part. Also, the team has brought Kazmir back even more slowly than he indicated he was prepared to do. They wanted to get his strength up in a very gradual way - which is a sure sign that they are taking everything into account to try to prevent a setback during the year. In summary, once he's back, I am not going to be overanxious about a recurrence, and I do expect him to have a solid season going forward.

David(FLA)

Hey Steph...whats the word on Shef? DL/ How long untill he is close to 100% in your opin? thanx

Stephania Bell
  (11:22 AM)

David: So far, have not heard whether Sheffield is DL bound or not. He is supposed to be evaluated further today to determine that. He tore a tendon in his ring finger, but the team has not specified which one. Originally Sheffield said he would play through the pain, but the swelling was an issue. It depends whether they feel he needs to have it splinted (or wost case scenario repaired). We should know more later today - but I would at least count him out for today's game.

Nate (Minneapolis)

Is too early to be optimistic about Lackey's progress?

Stephania Bell
  (11:25 AM)

Hi Nate: I think there is reason to be optimistic in the fact that he returned to baseball related activities a week ahead of schedule. The problem with these progressions and acurately projecting them, is that each step up is dependent upon how the athlete responded to the previous one. So if a thrower throws from 60' and does fine, they bump him to the next step- and there is a timetable established. But two steps later, if he feels something, he is bumped down again and the timetable is reset. So it is very fluid. I will tell you though that I spoke with the Angels this week and they are very pleased with how Lackey looks - their target they believe is still early to mid May.

Chris (Detroit)

Detroit Free press says that Shef will not go on the DL. He is not playing today. It is the tip of his finger so once the swelling is down he will be able to hit again.

Stephania Bell
  (11:27 AM)

Chris: Thanks for the post. Many times if it is the tip, they will let it go. Or they might splint when away from the sport, but the good news is that the further away it si from the palm, the better the chance of him being able to grip the bat without issues, of course, once the swelling is down.

Marc (Albany, NY)

Hi Stephania. I drafted Smoltzy even though you indicated in the Fantasy Draft Special that a trap strain is often symptomatic of a more serious problem. I couldn't let him pass me by though. Were my eyes bigger than my stomach? Thanks.

Stephania Bell
  (11:31 AM)

Hi Marc: I think Smoltz is a great pitcher. And he is expected to make his return 4/6 and reportedly has been feeling great. So no, I don't think your eyes were too big! But what I was getting at is that these "upper trap strains" are often indicative of something going on in the neck, and it could turn up again (and Smoltz fits the age pattern, profile of someone who could have a disc issue in his neck). And even if he does have these minor flareups, his sensible response in treating it (having admittedly learned as he has gotten older) and his mindset of getting back make a huge difference. But - keep in mind, last year he did go on the DL which he rarely does, for the same issue. So - it may turn up again this year. But when he's pitching, I expect him to be great.

john(NY)

Steph. what are your thoughts on Mark Prior when he comes back? thanks

Stephania Bell
  (11:34 AM)

Hi John: I think Prior is on track to have a solid season. Perhaps not great, but solid and a good comeback. He had offseason surgery which I think cleaned up a number of mechanical things inside the joint that were preventing him from successfully rehabbing before, he has been through diligent rehab, he is highly motivated, he's in a good park, and so far he is right on schedule (aiming for aorund June). He does have this tendency to bring his elbow above his shoulder when he gets into maximum internal rotation in his wind-up and that could be something that ends up aggravating his shoulder, but if he has been able to make an adjustment there (and we'll know when we see him back), then I'm really optimistic.

Frank (Wichita)

...give us Cards fans some hope...Chris Carpenter post All Star break will be.....

Greg (DC)

BJ Ryan just got released in my 10-team league. Is he a good candidate to stash on my DL spot. When does he return and what do you expect when he comes back?

Stephania Bell
  (11:40 AM)

Greg: I would pick him up. Ryan looked great in spring training until he had a minor setback with muscle soreness - all of which is NORMAL as a part of TJ recovery. I think he'll be back within a month or so - and he may not put up outstanding numbers, but I think he will be solid, based on his perfrmance so far in the spring.

Craig (ATL)

Stephania, I have Pedro. should i hang on to him, expecting him to be great when he gets back, or should i go ahead and give up on the old guy. please help. thanks

Stephania Bell
  (11:43 AM)

Craig: I think with Pedro these are the kinds of challenges he will face all year. Aging pitcher (in baseball years) and any muscle injury that he sustains in the lower half or the trunk puts additional stress on the shoulder and that he cannot afford. He was already going to be limited in terms of depth in games (maybe 5, 6 innings MAX) and so you have to evaluate how useful he could really be to you. I would look elsewhere.

Frank (Wichita)

...I'm assuming there's no hope?

Stephania Bell
  (11:46 AM)

Frank: There may be no hope for me since I can't seem to keep it all straight this morning. Must be Final 4 anticipation... Carpenter actually looks very good in his rehab and is expected to return after the All-Star break. Remember it usually takes two years to get your numbers back, but there is no reason to think he can't be effective when he comes back in the second half. All of this of course assumes no setbacks.

Norm (LA)

How is Jason Schmidt's progress? Any chance he returns anything close to the pitcher he once was?

Stephania Bell
  (11:50 AM)

Schmidt has been coming along very slowly, with complaints of fatigue, and then pain (recently) at different points in his rehab. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen this week, but he may yet be put on the 60 day DL. I don't expect him before June (being optimistic), and then I am not confident that he brings all the same skills back.

Tifany (NYC)

What is going on with Granderson? When will see him return to action? Will this affect his hitting once he does return?

Stephania Bell
  (11:53 AM)

Hi tifany: Granderson is being very careful with his finger reportedly and is expected to have X-rays this Saturday. if the healing looks good, they may allow him out of the splint to start doing some baseball activities, and then it is just a question of him getting up to speed (I would guess another two weeks). The biggest issue after any hand fracture, and with the metacarpals in particular, is for the athlete to have enough mobility to close the hand around the bat, and grip with enough power to be able to hit effectively. The less time in the splint, the fewer problems with stiffness, so let's hope the healing looks good and that he is cleared to move forward.

Brad/Southhampton-NY

Hey Stephania, How about Jeremy Hermida? What's his ETA and is this guy just unlucky?

Stephania Bell
  (11:56 AM)

Hi Brad: I do think Hermida is unlucky. Some people just are. Actually for his part, when the hamstring injury happened he siad he didn't think it was too bad. Of course, hamstrings are notoriuos for lingering, and since he plays in the outfield they don't want him back until his re-injury risk is way down. To that end though, he is playing in a couple of minor league games now, with the idea being that he will be activated soon, potentially as early as Saturday. I would watch and see how he does if he plays this weekend and then set him in my lineup next week if all looks well.

Matt (Fort Collins)

Hi Stephania, is there something scientific to people that have a proclivity for injury -- beyond not taking the proper steps to guard against them? For example, if we have two guys that do all the right things in preventive maintenance, diet, stretching, etc. can one guy just have physically/biologically where he's more likely to be injured? Thinking of Hermida as I write this.

Stephania Bell
  (12:00 PM)

Matt: Great follow to the Hermida post. We do believe that some poeple have collagen issues - collagen being the primary component of the connective tissues in the body (skin, ligament, tendon). We do know that there are genetic variations that influence collagen strength. Some people have very lax ligaments for instance - and will sprain just about everything in their bodies. These are the people that tear an ACL on one side, and then tear it on the other side a year or two later. I look at Mike Hampton and can't help but think he has collagen issues when you look at all of his muscle and tendon breakdown. There is no real way to determine this, nor is there a specific treatment, other than to promote all those things you mention - conditioning, healthy diet, etc as a means of trying to protect the tissue as best you can. On the flip side, some just have bad luck - these are the people who have a collision and get a concussion, break a bone, etc where it's not so much overuse breakdown, but trauma.

Craig (NY)

Ortiz finally showed some pop - is there any reason to worry that his power numbers don't come back after the offseason knee surgery and still have lingering knee problems from last year?

Stephania Bell
  (12:02 PM)

Hi Craig: Since I have Big papi in two leagues (and love him), I of course was hurting with his lack of production early on. But, I don't think it's related to his knee. He felt great this spring and his knee seems to be fine. He says he always starts off slowly - so perhaps it's just that. I am not worried about his knee though. not unless something new happens.

Big Joe (Hamilton, NJ)

Stephania, PLEASE address Victor Martinez's condition. He's one of my top players and got hurt after 2 at bats!!!

Stephania Bell
  (12:06 PM)

Big Joe: OK - martinez! He is responding to this hamstring strain in a similar way to how he responded to the quad strain last year. He seems to be healing quickly. The team can't have seen too much to concern them from the MRI since he pinch hit Thursday. There was talk he could be back in the lineup today, but don't be surprised if they actually wait another day or two. All sounds good though in terms of total recovery - and it seems to have been just a minor strain.

Stephania Bell
  (12:08 PM)

OK everyone - Thanks so much for coming to the chat! So many great questions - never enough time. I will be posting a blog later today so check back for updates on some of the players we didn't get to today as well as any new information on the ones we did chat about. We will keep updating injuries on Fantasy 3:50 today and the Insider Sunday, and here on ESPN.com throughout the week. Good luck in your fantasy baseball leagues!!