Happy Friday everyone - and welcome to the Injury Chat. There are already a number of good questions here so I won't waste any more time. Let's get to it...
What's the outlook on Harden's injury this time? How serious is it? Realistically will he back soon, or will this turn into a prolonged stint on the DL?
Erik: Harden strained a lat muscle (large muscle in the back) and yes, it travels up under the base of the shoulder blade, and yes, it attaches to the arm and helps control rotation and extension, but this is NOT a big worry to me. This is not a rotator cuff issue, or a labrum problem. This is not even the same shoulder pain that Harden dealt with last year. I understand the fantasy owner's frustration with Harden making another DL trip, but I think this is as much precautionary as anything else. I think he's back after the 15 days.
Good morning! What can you tell us about Matt Garza's injury? I read somewhere that this is something he has dealt with before, should I be worried he is going to be the next Harden?
Hi Todd: Garza reportedly has inflammation of the radial nerve and was experiencing some tingling into his forearm/hand the other night which led to his exit from the game. The radial nerve travels through the triceps along the back of the arm and through the wrist extensors on the top of the forearm. The nerve can get irritated from overstretching, or from being compressed, for ex, within a tight muscle group. May be a little of both with him. The wrist extensors get tight from gripping the ball. Add to that, the other night Garza fielded a ground ball hit back towards him, fell, and his wrist on his throwing side got caught underneath him, forcing it into a flexed (strong stretch) position. It was the next inning that he left. I think this will be fine once the irritation settles, but they have to keep him from grippin/throwing the ball for about 2 weeks. Look for him to come bacj about 3 weeks. No - not the next Harden.
Hi Stephania: Have you heard anything negative so far regarding F.Liriano's health? He's says he feels fine, but I'm still leery since he hasn't pitched well at Triple A. Thanks.
Hi Jim: No. Nothing negative from recovery standpoint. I think this is just him finding his groove - which takes a while. Also, he throws a lot of sliders. They are trying to steer him from so much of that (b/c it is so hard on the elbow) and it is such a hard pitch to pitch well. He is healthy enough to pitch in the majors right now, but will he be effective enough is what they're concerned about. Again, his numbers should improve after the All-Star break.
Is Randy Johnson going on the active roaster and what is his chances of staying healthy
Hi Mal: Don't know about the roaster - but he is going to be activated and expected to pitch on the 14th against - sigh - my SF Giants. I think they will be in for a long night. He is delivering the strikeouts in his minor league starts. I think as long as he doesn't overdo it - and everyone is interested in making sure that doesn't happen - he stays healthy this time.
Hey Stephania. Love your work. ESPN has really stepped it up by bringing you on board for injury analysis. How long do you anticipate Rafael Soriano to be out for? Elbow pain is never good news for a pitcher and this is something that first flared up in spring training. He has a spotty injury history as is. My intuition tells me we might not see him for a long time. Your thoughts?
Matt: Aren't you wonderful? Thanks for the feedback. You're right. Soriano has a history which always complicates the projection. He had TJ surgery on that side. It is not unusual to develop some tendinitis around the area - now in spring he had soreness near where the triceps attaches to the elbow. It is not clear if this is the exact same location. But it does sound to me like the Braves are mostly acting to avoid a major problem, in other words, this does not appear serious but they don't want it to become serious. I think you can expect him back in 2-3 weeks.
There are reports that David Ortiz is not yet 100% from his offseason knee surgery. Stephania, have you heard any further news about this?
Hi Alan: I keep hearing observers say the same thing, but there is no hard evidence that that is the case. Ortiz insists the knee is fine, and I believe him. I will say that sometimes, even if there is no pain, if someone has been altering their mechanics for a while to work around pain, it can take a bit to get back to normal. On BBTN the other night, they were talking about how straight he is keeping that knee, giving him less power with his swing. You can see it if you compare it to his power swing, but I think it is habitual now, not because of pain. And I think it will work itself out - if he doesn't kill my fantasy team first.
Hey Stephania, I've really enjoyed your work thus far in the baseball season. Two questions: first, you're not planning on visiting the Rangers pitching staff this season are you? They've pitched really well thus far, and I'd hate for The Curse of Stephania Bell to cause a slew of Tommy John surgeries and torn rotator cuffs. Now, on a more serious note, what are your thoughts on Shawn Hill? Will he come back as the Nats are predicting, and do you see a solid season out of him? Thanks, and keep up the good work.
Hi James - and thank you: No scheduled visits to the Rangers clubhouse right now, which I'm sure they appreciate... As far as Hill goes, I definitely have some concern given that he had surgery in November to decompress the radial nerve, remove some scar tissue in the area, b/c of his original symptoms of pain and tightness in the forearm. And then he develops pain and tightness in the forearm. Now the good news is that an MRI showed nothing alarming, and he has been progressing well. But as of earlier in the week he was still experiencing some tightness (although it sounded like no pain). He has another rehab start and then it appears he will be back. I think this could be a recurring issue for him, but it is a matter of degree. He will have to constantly stretch to avoid overtightening in his forearm, but it appears to be a condition that can be managed, if he is proactive about it. I think that will be the key to him staying healthy for the remainder of the season.
Any thoughts on how the dislocated index finger of Michael Cuddyer will effect him long-term? Don't really need the roster spot, but if it's going to hamper his production for a while, I'd rather get someone else early. Thanks.
Hi Scott: I'm more concerned about the laceration that accompanied it. Cuddyer is scheduled to get his stitches out Monday, then he can swing the bat once the swelling goes down enough to allow it. It will take longer for him to throw b/c it will be harder to return his ability to grip. You don't want too much shearing over a healing laceration either b/c it could prolong the healing, not to mention cause pain. And you're right, with these injuries you worry about effectiveness (i.e. productivity) even once the player is back in the lineup. If he can;t grip 100%, it shows. I would say that you should get insurance b/c I would not count on him really feeling better until 3-4 weeks.
What is the long term prognosis of Posada's shoulder strain? Is this something that will bother him all year long?
hey stephania, whats the deal with kazmir. heard he might not be back till may now. is that true and do you expect him to have lingering problems?
Hi John: Kazmir has thrown some live BP and the Rays are very happy with what they have seen. Good mix of pitches, good speed, and most importantly, no pain afterward. The thought was that he might return to the rotation 4/29, but the Rays want him to throw another BP before throwing minor league games, hence the potential delay to May. The Rays tend to be on the conservative side when returning throwers, but I favor their approach, as it is more likely to lead to long-term health - and in the big scheme of things, a delay of a few days is a good trade-off for a remaining healthy season. If Kazmir does well in his minor league starts, it could get moved up again. With pitchers, there is always the possibility of recurrence, so you can never say never, but the way he has progressed, steadily with no setbacks, gives me encouragement that he can stay healthy once he returns.
Great analysis as a whole, as usual -- you set the bar high. What's going on with Lowell and Rollins, though?
Hi Dan: Thanks for reading! Lowell sprained his thumb and if it's bad enough for him to go on the DL, you worry about issues with grip when he first returns. This is why there is some variation on what his potential timetable is. At least two weeks, probably 3-4, worst case scenario, another week or so on top of that. Rollins reportedly sprained his ankle but then it sounded asif it was not that serious of an injury for him. It was still bothering him cutting to the left which is why they had him as a pinch hitter but not in the field. Rollin is definitely a gamer - I would expect him back in the lineup at some point this weekend, barring a setback.
Hello Stephania...you posted the question on Posada. Could you please answer it? Thank you.
Chris: Thanks for posting this. So strange. I wrote a really thorough answer too, but it didn't post. So I'll try again. Posada had a case of dead arm, which we usually see with pitchers, but it can potentially happen to anyone who throws. It is a fatigue issue more than a pain issue, and the shoulder muscles just won't cooperate (and if you saw Posada's off the mark throws you know what I mean). The athlete will complain of not having control and that their arm feels heavy ("dead"). Usually rest does the trick, and it is just a matter of then getting the strength back up. Posada has DH'd but they will keep him from throwing a bit longer to allow the shoulder more recovery time. It is often something that resolves though, and should not be a recurring problem throughout the season as long as he does not return to use it too soon.
Any updates on Granderson? I read somewhere that his finger wasn't feeling 100% after some throwing and hitting drills. Any reason to worry this injury will linger and affect performance once he returns? I remember you not being worried when it first happened.
Hi Barry: Earlier this week Granderson hit from a tee and made some throws from about 90 feet (with his hand taped) and said he felt progress, but it doesn't yet feel normal. that's about what I would expect for where he is now, and he will need another week or so to feel more natural with the hittin and throwing. you're right - I wasn't as concerned about the location of his fracture since it is a part of the hand that doesn't require as much mobility as, say, one finger over. But he still will contend with the post-splint stiffness and getting the feel back. I still think another 1-2 weeks before we see him in the lineup. Once he's in the lineup, give him 2-3 appearances before he looks like himself.
Hi Stephania, I rode your medical advice to a fantasy football championship. Let's see if you can do it for me in baseball. Should I try and trade for John Lackey? Will this type of injury hinder him at all when he comes back? Or should I target Kazmir? Who do you think will be better in their comeback, Lackey or Kazmir?
Hi Robert: Glad that the information was helpful in at least one sport. Lackey's injury (triceps strain) is not as worrisome to me as some of the other things pitchers could come down with (rotator cuff, albrum). But we never like to see throwing arm problems. That being said, a few things in his favor. He had five seasons without major injury - impressive. This "injury" arose near the end of spring training, and it is not uncommon for throwers to develop these types of things as a result of returning to throw after an offseason. I like it better here than later in the season. He also started throwing again a week ahead of what they originally projected. All of which are positives for me. Again, never say never when it comes to pitchers, throwing arms and recurring injuries. But based on what we know so far, I do not expect this to be an ongoing theme for him once he returns. Hard to compare with Kazmir, b/c it's like apples and oranges. But I also siad I do not have season-long concerns for Kazmir.
What's up with Pedro, how long will he be out? Should i waste a DL spot on him or Harden, both are on my current roster?
Hi Craig: Pedro was projected at 4-6 weeks from the date of injury. I'd be surprised if it wasn't longer given that his HS really needs to be 100% as insurance for his repaired rotator cuff. I would spend the spot on Harden, not on Pedro.
When can we expect Jeter back and will he be at 100% or limited as he works his way back?
Hi Tom: The Jeter quad strain has been downplayed by the Yankees quite a bit, making me think it is not that serious. Nor did they move to put him on the DL. If it truly is a minor (Gr I) strain, then it is more of a tightness as opposed to significant muscle injury. I think he might sit out the series against the Sox (or at least part of it), but then return and I don't expect it to hamper him when he comes back. The key is they don't want him to feel anything when he runs before they bring him back, b/c a day or two too early, if he sprints and really injures it, then you could be looking at multiple weeks.
Our favorite injured OF Hermida has come off the DL and been producing. Please tell me he stays off the DL
Jay: He stays off the DL. Honestly, no way of knowing, but it's a nice thought.
Hi Stephania, what are your thoughts on Howie Kendrick's thumb? Will he be back in the lineup this weekend? Do you think this is something that might bother him all season long?
Hi Ryan: Kendrick jammed his thumb but x-rays were negative, so at this point he is listed as day to day. It seems as if they are waiting for pain and any swelling to subside so that he can use his thumb normally (bend it) to grip, and then he will be able to return. Unless there is more major damage than what they suspect right now, I do not expect it to be a lingering problem.
Stephania thanks for the chat. I have Carlos Beltran and his power numbers aren't there this year. Am I right to be concerned about his surgically repaired knee effecting him?
Hi Mike: I think given the surgery that he had we were all concerned, and he was having trouble, especially with quick stops and starts in spring training. One of the things Beltran said was that his quads still felt really weak, and the weakness was making him ineffective. I believe he is still finding his strength but that will continue to get better as the season progresses. More importantly, he is not reporting pain. And although he is not his old self, he is running, stopping and starting, and has a strong average right now (just not hitting them out of the park). I think the power returns as his strength comes back. Give him another month.
Stephania, I would like to echo the sentiments already posted about how great your work is. Your writing is very thorough; you have well-researched hypotheses and a unique view point, and its quite clear you really know what you are talking about. Thanks for all of the insight you provide. As far as my Sox are concerned, is Lowell's sprained thumb something to be concerned about? Will it linger and affect his hitting the same way that Coco Crisp's hand injury back in '06 affected his performance at the plate?
Hi Matt in Brooklyn via Boston: Thanks so much for the feedback. Love the questions that you all bring to the table every day. Keeps me motivated. It's funny. Coco Crisp is really a great example, and the one I often cite, of how finger/hand injuries can turn into lingering productivity problems b/c it was so tough for him to get back. As far as Lowell goes, I wouldn't put him in that category right away. Sometimes we don't really know (in the absence of a more definitive injury, other than "sprain") what the impact will be as the athlete returns, and it's only when he starts attempting to hit, throw, etc that we see the problems. So, at this point I don't assume the worst, but if he wsa on my team, I would be watching what he does and how he does as soon as they let him start up the baseball activities. That will give a clue as to whether he will return on time and how effective he can be.
I'm so sorry - it's time to go. And I know there were some player questions I didn't get to. Once again, Sports Nation impresses me with all of your excellent queries and thoughts. I will do my best to update you on all the key injuries in my blog. Please keep coming back on Fridays - and see what we're saying on Fantasy Insider on Sundays at 11 am EST (ESPNews) and on Fantasy Focus on ESPN Radio on Sundays from 9-10 pm EST. Thanks everyone - have a great weekend!!!