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Diamond Cuts: Closers Head to DL

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.

The start of the season is days away and injury updates are abundant. Players are starting to hit the disabled list allowing Opening Day lineups and rotations to take shape. The MLB front office also used these final days to unveil their latest steps to protect players that suffer from concussions. These new rules will have an immediate impact on fantasy owners so let's take a quick look at the new policies, one of which includes the adoption of a seven-day disabled list for any player suffering a head injury.  

Concussions affect each individual differently. Sometimes the associated symptoms will last for hours while other needs days to recover. In some extreme instances, as was the case with Minnesota's Justin Morneau, the symptoms can linger for much longer. In the past, players and teams may have been hesitant to place a concussed player on the 15-day disabled list if they thought the symptoms would dissipate in a short amount of time. The new seven-day DL will buy teams more time to better evaluate a head injury without losing a roster spot. The same will then hold true for fantasy owners. Instead of being forced to roster a player not recording statistics, you will be able to place them on the DL and pick up a temporary fill-in off the waiver wire. Should the injured player need more than 14 days to recover, they will automatically be placed on the 15-day DL. 

The new policy also mandates that players undergo a baseline neuropsychological examination during spring training and each team must appoint a specialist in the field to evaluate head injuries when they occur. Furthermore medical reports must be filed to the league's current medical director before they are cleared to return to play. The policy is a step in the right direction for the league and should help protect the players from the dangers of concussions. The adoption of the policy is also a win for fantasy owners, who will gain roster flexibility should a player go down with a head injury. 

Pitchers 

Brad Lidge - After battling biceps tendinitis earlier in the spring, Lidge began feeling some posterior shoulder soreness. A MRI revealed a small tear in the one of the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles, the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. The supraspinatus and infraspinatus are located on the posterior aspect of the scapula (shoulder blade). The supraspinatus is the most often injured as it becomes pinched by a bony process known as the acromion. The long head of the biceps is susceptible to injury at this location as well and Lidge's previous bout with biceps tendinitis may serve as a clue that the acromion is the culprit behind both injuries. Lidge will be completely shut down for the next three-to-six weeks, meaning he will be out longer as he will need additional time to regain his arm strength and control. Lidge even admitted that he is targeting the second half of the season if all things go accordingly. Jose Contreras will jump into the closer role with Ryan Madson serving as his setup man. If you missed out on a closer in the draft, pounce on Contreras in all formats.

Brian Wilson - San Francisco will start their title defense without their animated closer as Wilson remains hampered by a strained left oblique. The decision to start Wilson on the DL is a smart one for the Giants. It will allow him to completely heal from what can be a nagging injury while still keeping the door open for an early return. Wilson will be able to return as early as April 5. Expect the Giants to take the dreaded closer by committee approach while Wilson is out, with Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez all getting a shot at the occasional save. 

Mat Latos - San Diego's young ace will begin the year on the DL with shoulder bursitis in his right shoulder. Bursitis occurs when a fluid-filled sac known as a bursa becomes inflamed. Bursa sacs help reduce friction between various tissues throughout the body. However, like in the case of Lidge, space in the shoulder joint is limited and on occasion the shoulder bursa can become damaged with repetitive overhead motion. When irritated,the sac will become inflamed resulting in pain, swelling, and tenderness. Bursitis is not a structural injury and is best treated with anti-inflammatory medication and rest.  The team will also need to take steps to locate the root of the issue so that the condition does not become more problematic or chronic. He has already shown signs of improvement and his stint on the DL will likely be brief. 

Infielders 

Casey McGehee - McGehee appears to have dodged a bullet even though he apparently can't dodge a baseball. The Milwaukee third baseman was drilled in the right knee by a pitch but avoided any serious damage. There was some cause for concern since McGehee underwent a debridement procedure on the knee to remove several loose bodies last offseason. However he played in Monday's spring training game and will man the hot corner on Opening Day, 

Outfielders 

Jason Bay - The Mets' left fielder joins a long list of players nursing rib injuries to start the season. Bay suffered his injury during batting practice and could begin the season on the DL. Oblique injuries have dominated the headlines recently with Corey Hart, the previously discussed Brian Wilson, and Curtis Granderson all succumbing to the injury. However it sounds like Bay's injury is more likely an intercostal strain like the one that temporarily sidelined Milwaukee's Ryan Braun.  

The intercostal muscles are located between each rib and work to raise and drop the rib cage during breathing. A strained to one of these would restrict trunk rotation and make it difficult to swing a bat or throw. It isn't quite as severe as an oblique strain but can tend to linger. Bay is set to visit a specialist in New York that should help determine how long he will be shelved.