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Diamond Cuts: Ailing A

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

Andrew Bailey

Oakland's closer is once again dealing with elbow soreness but a visit with renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews revealed good news. Dr. Andrews diagnosed Bailey with a strained right forearm and did not feel the reliever had suffered any serious ligament damage. Bailey has a history of elbow problems dating back to 2004 when he underwent Tommy John surgery in college and a debridement procedure to remove bone chips and spurs last September. Dr. Andrews, who performed the debridement, feels Bailey can resume throwing after the pain subsides.

Forearm strains irritate the elbow because a majority of the forearm muscles originate at the epicondyles of the humerus. The common tendon of the extensor muscles attach to the lateral epicondyle while the flexor bundle originates at the medial epicondyle. Inflammation at either location is known as epicondylitis. If the lateral side is affected it is best known as tennis elbow and medial epicondylitis is referred to as golfer's elbow. Fortunately Bailey does not have any swelling in the elbow suggesting an isolated strain.

While it seems likely he will begin the season on the disabled list, fantasy owners have to be pleased with the diagnosis especially considering Bailey's history. Offseason addition Brian Fuentes is expected to assume the closer role during Bailey's absence, but the As have plenty of other options including Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Grant Balfour, Brad Ziegler and Joey Devine if needed.

Infielders

Brian Roberts

It's dj vu all over again for Roberts as a back injury is once again limiting him during spring training. The veteran second basemsn was hampered early on last season by back spasms and eventually was sent to the 60-day disabled list and received two epidural injections for a herniated disc in his lower back. The back spasms Roberts is now experiencing are in a different location and while a MRI did not reveal anything new, the situation is concerning.

Roberts is stuck in the agonizing pain-spasm cycle. Following trauma to a muscle an individual experiences pain. As a result the muscles surrounding the area become tight and begin to spasm. The spasms increase the pain producing more tension, which leads to more pain. Symptoms can be treated in a variety of ways with medication, modalities, and physical therapy but until the root of the cause is discovered the cycle can easily be reinitiated. The Orioles have put together a plan of treatment for Roberts but remain reluctant to share the specifics. Given his previous history, fantasy owners should proceed with extreme caution until Roberts has proven he can put this injury behind him.

Derrek Lee

Another Baltimore infielder is nursing an injury as Lee is dealing with a case of wrist tendinitis. A MRI ruled out any serious injury and it is believed his right thumb injury may have played a role in his latest ailment. Lee was unable to swing a bat for several months following offseason surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. Once cleared to play, Lee aggressively returned to the batting cage and other baseball activities. However, the sudden jump in activity following his layoff seems to have irritated tendons in the wrist resulting in tendinitis. Tendinitis in the wrist can cause pain and limit range of motion, which can prove detrimental at the plate.

When a hitter swings the bat, complete wrist motion is needed to snap the wrist around to provide extra speed. Additionally, the extra motion allows for more force to be placed in each swing adding power. Therefore if wrist motion is limited, a hitter loses both bat velocity and a significant amount of pop in his swing. For an aging veteran with declining power numbers like Lee, a wrist injury stands to further diminish his value. The two-time All-Star plans on returning to action in the next few days and should be ready for Opening Day. For fantasy purposes Lee is best suited as a backup first baseman or a corner infielder in deeper leagues.

Troy Tulowitzki

Tulo appears set to return from a bruised heel suffered when he awkwardly struck his foot on a swing. Normally a bruised heel wouldn't be a huge cause for concern but fantasy owners burned by Tulowitzki in 2010 and 2008 will be quick to say I told you so.' However his broken wrist last season and the torn quadriceps muscle in 2009 shouldn't cause anyone to think this particular injury is worth stressing over. Often times the injury prone label gets unfairly applied and even the simplest injuries, like a heel contusion, get overblown. The injuries are not related in any form or fashion and Tulowitzki remains an elite talent in a shallow position.

Ryan Zimmerman

The Nationals have elected to shut down their Gold Glove third baseman for the next four-to-five days after Zimmerman suffered a strained right groin. The groin is a group of muscles known as the adductors. The adductors work together to move the leg inward toward the midline of the body. The adductors play a key role in lateral movement and are particularly important for third basemen during fielding. Thankfully Zimmerman's strain is minor and shouldn't affect his draft status. He has been able to shake off a minor oblique strain as well but the Nationals will play it safe and give Zimmerman as much time as he needs to insure the latest injury does not linger.

Outfielders

Ryan Braun

The Brewers are also erring on the side of caution, giving Braun extra time off to allow his injured ribs to mend. Braun suffered an intercostal strain after running into the outfield wall during drills prior to a game. The intercostal muscles lie between each rib and work to raise and drop the rib cage during the various phases of breathing. For a better point of reference, the meat that you eat when order a plate of short ribs is the intercostal muscles.

A strain to this area limits trunk rotation making it difficult and often painful to swing a bat or throw. However, it is less serious than an oblique strain, like the one troubling teammate Corey Hart, and Braun has already shrugged the injury off as minor. Continue to draft Braun with confidence and hope the injury will scare off uneducated drafters and allow you to get the slugger on a discount.