Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis
The Tampa Bay Rays have placed two promising young pitchers on the disabled list, each with shoulder strains in their throwing arms. The team has not specified which particular muscle is causing them problems but both pitchers have indicated the soreness and pain is located in the back of their throwing shoulders suggesting a strain of the rotator cuff, rhomboids, or trapezius. To understand what the duo is facing, you must understand the specifics of the injuries. Strains are injuries that occur to muscle tissue or tendons. They often develop as the result of being overstretched or overloaded following a repetitive motion. Both Davis and Niemann are likely suffering from strains associated with pitching a high number of innings. If they become severe enough, strains can cause significant problems leading to muscle weakness and altered biomechanics. The strains seem minor and both pitchers should return relatively quickly. In fact these two may not have even been placed on the disabled list several years ago.
After chronic shoulder and elbow problems began prematurely ending the careers of pitching prospects, most notably Mark Prior, Major League staffs began closely monitoring the pitch counts of their young talent. Teams are now electing to rest their rookies more frequently than in the past and will often keep them on shorter leashes. Many teams have even placed inning restrictions on their players and will begin to shut them down with the conclusion of the season on the horizon. The Rays have already taken the conservative approach with Niemann and Davis and the Nationals (Stephen Strasburg), Padres, (Mat Latos), Cardinals (Jaime Garcia), and even the Yankees (Phil Hughes) have already stated that they plan on limiting the number of innings pitched by their youngsters. Fantasy owners in non-keeper leagues should keep these restrictions in consideration when evaluating their teams for the fantasy stretch run and playoffs.
While the news out of Tampa Bay is encouraging, it is not so promising in Atlanta as Medlen will miss the remainder of the season and possibly longer. Medlen exited in the fifth inning of a recent outing against the Mets after feeling tightness in his forearm. A MRI revealed a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The team will wait several weeks before deciding if he will require Tommy John surgery to reconstruct the damaged ligament. If he does undergo the procedure, Medlen would be on a similar timeline to Cincinnatiís Edinson Volquez. Volquez underwent Tommy John in August of 2009 and rehabbed for nearly a year before returning last month. Expect a decision on Medlen in the coming weeks but fantasy owners should begin looking for an adequate replacement for the remainder of the season if they havenít done so already.
The Cubs' pitcher has been one of the surprising fantasy producers this year but an irregular heartbeat has sent Silva to the disabled list. Silva underwent a radiofrequency catheter ablation procedure to repair his tachycardia, or elevated heart rate. In the procedure small catheters were inserted into various veins and arteries throughout the body. Next low-voltage electricity set at a high frequency was utilized to damage the short-circuiting heart tissue that was causing the irregularities in Silvaís heartbeat. The procedure was a success and should prevent future episodes from occurring without the need for a permanent pacemaker. Silva will take the next seven to 10 days off to rest and will be reevaluated before he resumes throwing and baseball-related activities. Chicago has moved Thomas Diamond into the regular rotation. Despite striking out ten in six innings in his debut, Diamond lasted just three innings in his next outing making him a risky fantasy play.
The Milwaukee slugger has missed his teamís last two games nursing a left wrist injury that occurred after colliding with Houston first baseman Brett Wallace. The play resulted in a left strain and bruise and is causing the slugger pain while swinging the bat. The wrist is a complex joint comprised of multiple bones and ligaments. These bone serves as an insertion site for the muscles of the forearm and a point of origin for the majority of the muscles of the hands and fingers. These muscles are easily strained if the wrist is hyperextended or hyperflexed. The area is vulnerable to reinjury and often takes longer to heal as it is subjected to high amounts of stress from the repetitive impact associated with catching, batting, and fielding. The Brewers will take the necessary approach to insure the injury properly heals and does not become a chronic issue for the outfielder. Expect Braun to receive several more days off with a trip to the disabled list a strong possibility.
Soto was recently placed on the disabled list with a mild sprain in his right shoulder. The injury differs from those of Niemann and Davis because it affects a ligament and not a muscle. The ligaments of the shoulder aid in stabilizing the multiple articulations that comprise the shoulder complex. If injured, the laxity of the shoulder is compromised resulting in pain and instability. Fortunately for the Cubs, the shoulder is only giving Soto issues when swinging a bat and not when throwing. However, Chicago will not risk his future and are contemplating shutting Soto down for the remainder of the season. The defensive-minded Koyie Hill will continue to start behind the plate but isnít a legitimate fantasy option.
The Red Sox are set to welcome back their starting second baseman nearly eight weeks after he fractured the navicular bone in his left foot. He has gradually increased his workload and recently began running at full speed. This is a good indicator that Pedroia is ready to immediately contribute as the navicular aids in stabilizing the foot particularly while running. Boston will send the former AL MVP on a rehab assignment over the weekend and plan to get him back into their lineup on Tuesday in time for an upcoming series against the Angels.