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Diamond Cuts: Resting Franchise

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

Jair Jurrjens

Jurrjens was scratched from his last start with a sore right knee and a subsequent MRI revealed a small horizontal tear in his meniscus. Manager Bobby Cox said the injury was not a flap tear, which is good news for Jurrjens owners. The menisci are fibrocartilage disks that sit within the joint capsule of the knee. They serve as a shock absorber for the knee and aid in stabilization. However, because of their location they are prone to being torn when the knee is twisted. The tears can be small, like in the case of Jurrjens, and cause minimal problems. More significant tears, like a flap tear or a bucket-handle tear, can limit range of motion and being extremely painful. The Braves hope Jurrjens will make his next start Sunday with rookie Brandon Beachy on standby. However, even if he can go, Jurrjens is a risky play. Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco attempted to pitch through a meniscus injury and was shelled, giving up six runs on seven hits in just two innings of work. Nolasco has since been shut down and will undergo surgery to repair the torn meniscus.

Jose Valverde

The Tigers have been without their closer as Valverde nurses an elbow injury. A MRI revealed no structural damage and the team is calling the injury tendinitis. Bony protuberances known as the epicondyles are located on both the medial and lateral aspects of the humerus and serve as an origin and an insertion site for numerous muscles of the elbow. This location leaves the area very susceptible to inflammation following the repetitive motion associated with various sports. When tendons in this area become inflamed the condition is known as either tennis elbow (lateral inflammation) or golfers elbow (medial inflammation). Baseball players are much more prone to medial elbow injuries as evident by the high number of Tommy John surgeries required yearly. Valverde will not be requiring surgery but he will need time to rest the area. Manager Jim Leyland said his closer would pitch again when Valverde feels confident in his elbow and is able to pitch effectively. Phil Coke will assume closing duties until Valverde returns.

Andrew Bailey

Oakland’s closer is also dealing with elbow soreness and will travel to visit orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews sometime in the near future. Bailey did undergo Tommy John on his elbow in college, however, the pain is not on the inside of the elbow but instead on the lateral aspect. Bailey battled tennis elbow at the beginning of the season and feels this latest setback may be associated with that incident. However a visit to Dr. Andrews is always a bad sign and fantasy owners should begin looking for saves elsewhere. Craig Breslow threw a scoreless ninth for Oakland on Monday to collect his third save of the year.

Hitters

Joe Mauer

The reigning AL MVP remains day-to-day with a bothersome left knee. Mauer tweaked the knee at the plate against Oakland and has sat out Minnesota’s last two games with inflammation. Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s line of defenses against damage and foreign pathogens. However, it must be carefully controlled to prevent it from becoming a chronic issue and potentially damaging healthy tissue like cartilage. In the knee ,a myriad of things can cause inflammation including tendinitis, bursitis, or meniscal damage. Fortunately for Mauer and the Twins, a MRI revealed no structural damage. Mauer may receive a cortisone injection for the issue that should also provide some pain-relief as the inflammation decreases. The injury is maddening for fantasy owners in the midst of a playoff run especially when you consider Mauer’s .383 post All-Star break average. Sadly, Mauer owners will miss his bat for at least four or five games with plenty of day offs down the stretch now that the Twins have clinched the AL Central title.

Tyler Colvin

The Cubs' outfielder suffered one of the scarier injuries of the season over the weekend. Colvin was injured after being struck by a sliver of teammate Wellington Castillo’s broken bat. The splintered bat struck Colvin just below his left collarbone, creating a puncture wound. He was taken to the hospital where he was treated for a pneumothorax, better known as a collapsed lung. The lungs are surrounded by what is called the pleural cavity. This fluid-filled cavity aids in respiration and helps maintain the pressure of the lungs. If punctured, the cavity fills with air and the lung on that particular side collapse resulting in pain and difficulty breathing. Colvin had a tube inserted and will remain hospitalized until the proper homeostatic pressure is restored. While his long-term health will be fine, Colvin’s 2010 season is over. He finishes with a .254 average and 20 home runs and will be an intriguing fantasy option in next year’s drafts.

Coco Crisp

In the midst of a red-hot second-half, Crisp has suffered a fractured left pinkie and will likely miss the remainder of the season. Crisp suffered the injury while sliding into third, making this the second time this season he has fractured the left pinkie while sliding into a base. He missed nearly eight weeks of action to start the season after breaking the distal phalange on his fifth finger. He has again broken the distal phalange but in a different location closer to his fingertip. The fracture is nondisplaced and should not require surgery but a hand specialist has advised him against playing the remainder of the year. Rajai Davis, Chris Carter, and Matt Carson will man the outfield in his absence.

Crisp is the latest example of the dangers of sliding head-first. While many slide headfirst believing it is quicker, a study by University of Texas researchers found no significant difference between the feet-first and head-first methods. Even if the speed difference is negligible, the inherent risks in a head-first slide are greater. Fingers and hands are extremely vulnerable to injury from being stepped on or caught on the base. Several players including Atlanta’s Jason Heyward and Philadelphia’s Chase Utley have missed time this season after jamming their thumbs on the bag. Head injuries are also more likely to occur and be significant. While it is difficult for fantasy owners to select players based on their sliding styles, it is an associated risk that they should keep in mind.