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Diamond Cuts: Hips Don't Lie

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

Infielders

Alex Rodriguez - A-Rod continues to battle with tendinitis in his right hip flexor tendon that could be at the root of his power outage so far this season. The muscle responsible for hip flexion is the iliopsoas and originates from a smooth surface on the hip as well as a lower portion of the back. Recent studies have revealed that iliopsoas tendinitis is commonly experienced following significant hip surgery. If you recall, the three-time MVP missed the start of last year following surgeries to the same hip to drain a cyst and repair a torn labrum, making it plausible that A-Rod's current condition is related to his previous hip problems. Furthermore, inflammation of the soft tissue of this area can lead to groin pain similar to the discomfort Rodriguez has also been reporting.

When the groin and hip area is injured, a player's ability to generate force from their lower extremities is diminished. The player is unable to turn on a pitch and drive the ball for power, making home runs significantly more difficult. Not surprising A-Rod has just nine home runs on the season and is on pace to finish with a career-low for long balls.

The Yankees will continue to give Rodriguez the occasional day off in hopes that rest will help the balky hip but the injury is a red-flag for his fantasy owners. A few more home runs could help balance his .281 average and two stolen bases but it is hard to see a big run on the horizon. Additionally, if the hip continues to pose a problem it may require a more extensive evaluation.

Troy Tulowitzki - The Rockies will be without one of their primary offensive weapons, as Tulo will miss six-to-eight weeks with a fractured left wrist. The injury is being classified as an avulsion fracture, which is surprising considering how the injury happened. An avulsion fracture occurs when a small portion of the bone breaks away from the primary bone. It generally occurs following a forceful muscle contraction that causes the bone to break at the insertion site of that particular muscle's tendon. However Tulowitzki's injury occurred when he was struck in the arm by a pitch from Minnesota reliever Alex Burnett. What likely occurred is the bone broke closer to the attachment site of a ligament rather than a tendon as the pitch struck the wrist. Fortunately surgery was avoided, as the fracture is a non-displaced one and did not shift following the break. The Colorado athletic training staff will attempt to accelerate the healing process by utilizing a bone stimulator, designed to promote bone growth through ultrasonic waves. Expect the shortstop to remain on the disabled list for at least the projected six weeks.

Jimmy Rollins - Just as Tulowitzki heads to the DL another top shortstop is returning, as Rollins was activated prior to Tuesday's win over the Indians. The former MVP went 0-for-4 in his return from a second trip to the disabled list with a strained calf. While fantasy owners are likely ecstatic the J-Roll is back they would be wise to keep another shortstop handy, as he will likely receive several games off as the Phillies ease him back into the rotation. A recent MRI cleared Rollins to play but came with a precautionary warning that he should be cautious moving forward. Expect Philly to handle their star with kid gloves before letting him loose.

Pitchers

Edinson Volquez - The Reds' attempt to dethrone the Cardinals from atop the National League Central could get a big boost as they plan on welcoming back Volquez on July 7. Volquez has yet to pitch this season as he missed time recovering from an injury and serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The right-hander was rehabbing an injured elbow that required Tommy John surgery in August. Named for the former Dodger pitcher who became the first professional athlete to undergo the procedure, Tommy John is required to repair a tear of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow. The UCL is comprised of three bands that form a triangle to efficiently provide support to the medial or inside of the elbow. The UCL plays a primary role in stabilizing the joint in the late cocking and early acceleration phases of pitching. The UCL is stressed in various ways depending on the specific pitch being thrown, but the biggest factor is the total number of pitches thrown. A high number of pitches over a short period of time can lead to the ligament wearing down and potentially tearing particularly if the pitcher's mechanics are poor. Often following the procedure a pitcher will see a dip in velocity and generally needs a complete year or longer to return to form. However, Volquez has pitched well on his rehab assignment, consistently hitting the 90s with his fastball. Opportunistic fantasy owners could benefit from the right-hander hurler's return and his ability to produce strikeouts, but should remain patient. If you have the luxury and flexibility to stash Volquez it is certainly worth the risk, but otherwise show restraint and get a better feel for his stuff before dropping a serviceable player.

Dallas Braden - Oakland's surprise pitcher continues to deal with an elbow issue of his own that has affected his ability to throw a breaking-ball. Braden is suffering from elbow tendinitis that is causing him pain and stiffness in the joint and into his forearm. Breaking pitches like a curveball or a slider put a different amount of stress on the elbow and when excessively used are more likely to result in pain and an injury. As result of the inflammation, Braden has been forced to shy away from throwing breaking pitches and has become over-reliant on his fastball and changeup. The injury may be the primary culprit behind Braden's recent slump. The lefty has not won a game since his perfect game on Mother's Day and six of his 10 home runs surrendered have come since his historic outing. While he is taking precautionary steps to rest his ailing elbow it may be time to shop Braden while he still has value.