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Diamond Cuts: Greinke’s Surprise Scratch

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts

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


Pitchers

Zack Greinke

Fantasy owners were frustrated by Greinke’s surprise scratch in his final start before the All-Star break but should rest easy knowing the injury does not appear serious. The reigning Cy Young winner was scratched last Sunday with a slight discomfort in the back of his throwing shoulder. However the decision is being called a precautionary move to buy Greinke some additional rest before his next scheduled start Friday against the A’s. Kansas City manager Ned Yost said his pitcher was not experiencing any pain while throwing but was suffering from mild discomfort when decelerating. Several muscles located in the area of discomfort are utilized during the deceleration phase of throwing, including the rhomboids, the posterior deltoid, and the trapezius. A strain of any of the muscles would directly affect Greinke's pitching mechanics, but Yost was confident a strain had not occurred. While the prognosis was good, the timing was poor. Prior to the injury Greinke had been on a roll, winning his last four decisions over five starts while improving his record from an ugly 1-8 to a more respectable 5-8. Closely monitor Greinke’s status Friday, but be confident that this incident is likely behind him.

Erik Bedard

Just as it appeared Bedard would make his long-awaited 2010 debut, he was scratched from his scheduled start and remains on the disabled list. Bedard has yet to throw a pitch this season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The lefty experienced inflammation in the shoulder prior to his debut and was not activated as initially planned. Acute inflammation is a necessary response by the body following injury. However, often the body’s natural defense system gets stuck in the on position resulting in chronic inflammation that does more harm than good. It can easily irritate normal and healthy tissue resulting in pain and conditions like tendinitis. The athletic training staff of the Mariners must have been forced to walk a fine line with Bedard and his ailing shoulder. They have had to prepare the shoulder for the rigors of throwing while limiting any excessive inflammation.

Bedard will continue to progress and plans on throwing a bullpen session at some point this weekend. However, even the most optimistic fantasy owner will agree there are too many red flags surrounding the pitcher. Given Bedard’s history and his continued issues he is a risky fantasy option for the remainder of the season and shouldn’t be kept over a serviceable player.

Hitters

Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth

The All-Star break came at the perfect time for several ailing Atlanta outfielders, allowing for a few extra days of rehab and recovery or, in the case of McLouth, an extended trip on a minor league assignment.

Heyward appears to have recovered from a thumb injury that forced him to sit out his first All-Star game. He recently completed batting practice without pain but elected to sit out the Midsummer Classic to prepare for the second half. The Rookie of the Year candidate has been inactive sine June 29 with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb. The thumb was placed in a cast and it appears the decision to immobilize the injury site has allowed for the injury to properly heal. Heyward hopes to be available for Thursday’s matchup against the Brewers but the team may send him on a brief minor league stint to test his grip. If all is well, expect Heyward’s numbers to come back up and hopefully become more consistent.

While Heyward was basking in the Anaheim sunshine, his teammate and former All-Star Nate McLouth continued his rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. McLouth has been recovering from a concussion he suffered after colliding with Heyward in early June. Concussions are usually associated more with the NFL than the MLB, but are a serious and significant injury regardless of the sport. In fact, the MLB used the All-Star game as a platform to test out new, modified batting helmets designed to decrease the risk of head injuries including concussions. Players such as David Wright, Ryan Howard, David Ortiz and Albert Pujols all sported the new helmet in Wednesday’s exhibition.

A concussion occurs when normal brain function is temporarily disrupted following trauma to the head or neck region. Common physical and cognitive functions like hearing, vision, memory and balance can all be momentarily altered. Depending on the severity of the concussion, symptoms can last days or even weeks. Often, like with McLouth, the symptoms will not be present in day-to-day activities but reappear with exercise and exertional activity.

During his stint on the disabled list, McLouth had trouble rehabbing in the hot Georgia climate and complained of dizziness and light-headedness when attempting batting practice outdoors. However, the concussion-related symptoms have subsided, and he has looked impressive on his minor league assignment, going 4-for-11 with a homer and stolen base in three games with the Gwinnett Braves. If he can continue to produce, McLouth could steal some time playing back from Melky Cabrera and become a potential sleeper in the second half. However, keep in mind before the injury he was batting a dreadful .176 in 170 at-bats.

Carlos Beltran

The Mets will welcome back the five-time All-Star on Thursday as Beltran is set to return from offseason knee surgery. Beltran underwent a procedure to excise several floating bodies in his right knee while aiding in recovery from a nagging bone bruise that limited him for most of last season. Beltran will patrol center field and bat cleanup, wearing a knee brace that will limit his range of motion. Furthermore, the Mets are unsure how often they will need to rest Beltran but plan on utilizing Angel Pagan and Jeff Francoer to spell him on occasion. Extremely tolerant or opportunistic fantasy owners should exhibit patience with Beltran and expect inconsistent production and playing time while he becomes re-acclimated to the game. However, Beltran could provide a spark to any struggling offense and help lead a second half surge.