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Diamond Cuts: Folding Aces

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.

Pitchers

Adam Wainwright

With their playoff chances now gone, the Cardinals will play it safe with Wainwright and skip the Cy Young candidate’s next turn in the rotation, effectively ending his season. Wainwright pitched on Friday but experienced some pain and tightness in his right elbow. St. Louis is calling the injury a strained forearm muscle and will deny Wainwright the chance at win number 21. A MRI revealed the strain and minor inflammation that was irritating a nerve. The nature of the injury is peculiar as Wainwright is calling it a “sleeping injury”. Apparently he fell asleep while resting his head on his throwing arm. He awoke to some numbness and injured himself while shaking the arm. Despite the strangeness of the ailment, it is nice to see the Cardinals playing it safe with their young star especially when you consider all that has happened this season with pitchers like Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, Oakland’s Ben Sheets, and Philadelphia’s ageless wonder Jamie Moyer. Wainwright will be ready for next season and should be one of the top pitchers taken in next year’s drafts.

Clayton Kershaw

The Dodgers will also prematurely end the season of their young star, electing to shut down Kershaw who was slated to pitch on Wednesday. The Dodgers ended the Rockies playoff hopes on Tuesday and manager Joe Torre did not see the point of overextending Kershaw. The leftie will finish with 204.1 innings pitched, eclipsing the 200-inning mark for the first time in his young career. Like mentioned with Wainwright, it is nice to see a manager consider the individual career of a young star and not place him in any unnecessary harm. Kershaw, just three years into his promising career, has managed to stay healthy despite an incident last year when he collided into a wall shagging fly balls. He finishes the season with 13 wins, 212 strikeouts, and a 2.91 ERA. He has the potential to be a top-10 pitcher entering next season.

Hitters

Martin Prado

If the Braves manage to hold onto the National League wild card they will enter the postseason without the services of one of their top players. Prado will miss the remainder of the season and playoffs with a hip pointer in his left hip and a torn oblique muscle. Prado injured the area making a diving catch against the Marlins and then felt a pop while attempting a swing an inning later. A MRI revealed both injuries. The term hip pointer is generally used when an individual has suffered a contusion to crest of the pelvic bone known as the ilium. (If you place your hands on yours hips that ridge you feel is your iliac crest.) Often, like in the case of Prado, a tear of the external oblique muscle accompanies a serious hip pointer as the muscle is torn away from the bony iliac crest. The injury is extremely painful and causes pain with trunk rotation as well as common activities such as breathing, laughing, and coughing. Prado, a pleasant surprise for many fantasy owners this season, will be required to completely rest for two months before continuing rehabilitation. On the bright side the rest will allow his nagging groin and finger injuries to mend and the first-time All-Star should be ready for spring training next season. Brooks Conrad will take over at third base.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

It is fitting that in the final Diamond Cuts of the year we once again discuss a player with a thumb injury. Thumb injuries dominated the headlines this season with marquee names like Victor Martinez, Jason Heyward, Chase Utley, and Kevin Youkilis missing time due to thumb ailments. Red Sox catching prospect Saltalamacchia recently underwent surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and small avulsion fracture in his left thumb. The UCL attaches to the base of the proximal phalanx of the thumb and helps stabilize the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint. Occasionally when the ligament is torn, the force causing the disruption is so strong that it will also pull away a piece of the bone. Fortunately, the surgery was considered a success and Salty can return to baseball-related activities following four-to-six weeks of rest and rehabilitation. Saltalamacchia is a promising name entering next season, as both Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek will enter free agency in the offseason. If he can get and stay healthy, a notable issue for the youngster, he could assume the everyday catching duties for Boston in 2011.

Justin Upton

A recent visit to Dr. James Andrews delivered promising news to the Diamondbacks outfielder as the tear in the labrum of his left shoulder has not worsened. To understand what exactly is troubling Upton, let’s first look at the makeup of the shoulder. The shoulder’s primary articulation is the glenohumeral joint. This is the joint everyone first thinks of when discussing the shoulder. The joint here is classified as a ball-and-socket joint and slightly resembles a golf ball sitting on a tee. The head of the humerus acts as the ball and rests in the glenoid fossa of the scapula, which serves as the tee. The humerus can freely turn on the glenoid fossa allowing for a large degree of motion at the shoulder. To insure the ball remains on the tee, your body is equipped with the labrum, a fibrocartilaginous ring that deepens the fossa. The labrum, along with numerous ligaments and musculature, help stabilize the shoulder. A tear can develop in the labrum if the humeral head is forcibly jarred like when crashing into a wall or striking the ground while attempting a diving catch. A torn labrum is painful and can develop into a chronic instability in the shoulder. Treatment for this injury is dependent on the severity and pattern of the tear and the amount of resulting instability. Upton is likely done for the season but should avoid surgery. Instead, he will spend the offseason strengthening the surrounding muscles to better stabilize the shoulder. While Upton’s numbers dropped in 2010 and included a career-high 152 strikeouts, he remains a solid fantasy contributor and will remain a good option in 2011.

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