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Diamond Cuts: Thumbs Down

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 

Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa

The Rockies have been forced to shuffle their starting rotation as Jimenez and De La Rosa take care of finger injuries. Jimenez is dealing with a broken thumbnail and cut cuticle on his right thumb, and the Rockies had to place on him the disabled list Wednesday. Since he's eligible to return April 17, Jimenez may only miss two turns in the rotation. While it may be difficult to comprehend how something as small as a cuticle could derail a Cy Young contender, you have to understand the importance of the thumb in Jimenez's grip. Ubaldo's primary weapons are a four-seam fastball and a two-seam fastball. Both pitches require the thumb to wrap underneath the baseball to insure the pitch is delivered with accuracy and velocity. The injury to his thumbnail is directly limiting his ability to properly use his thumb, making his normally devastating pitches much more mediocre.  A dip in velocity and accuracy liked attributed to his poor Opening Day performance in which he surrendered five earned runs over six innings.  

Another aspect to keep in mind with Jimenez's injury is infection. The eponychium or cuticle is a tiny but tough layer of skin surrounding both the fingernails and toenails. Its primary responsibility is to prevent bacteria and other contaminants from entering underneath the nail. When cracked or cut the finger becomes vulnerable to infection. Jimenez actually cut the same thumb and suffered an infection during spring training and was forced to miss a start. However, Jimenez has been soaking the thumb in a moisturizing balm and antimicrobial soap to ensure the thumb properly heals.

De La Rosa could be called upon to fill in for Jimenez, but he too is recovering from a finger injury. De La Rosa developed a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand in his last start. Blisters form when an area of skin rubs against another surface. The constant friction causes the outer layers of skin to tear away. A clear fluid known as serum then floods the area in between the damaged layers. Blisters are a frequent issue for pitchers because of the constant friction between their fingers and the rough seams of the baseball. Blisters become a more complex issue for pitchers because they are unable to protect the area with ointments, jellies, or even random home-remedies like super glue during a game because it is illegal according to the MLB rulebook.  

Fortunately for the Rockies, the athletic training staff was able to properly treat De La Rosa's blister and he should be ready to return. However, De La Rosa isn't out of the woods just yet. Remember he has a history of left middle finger injuries dating back to last season when he spent two months on the disabled list with a torn flexor tendon band in this same finger. There is some speculation that a blister was at the root of that injury after he altered his grip to adjust for a developing callous.  

Brian Matusz

The surprising Orioles will have to continue their hot start without the services of one of their young pitchers as Matusz is expected to miss three to six weeks with an intercostal strain. The ribcage consists of 12 pairs of ribs that all insert into the thoracic vertebrae of the back. The intercostals sit between each rib and aid in moving the ribcage up and down. Matusz's strain is closer to his back and originally presented itself as back pain. Trunk injuries are more problematic for pitchers than positional players so anticipate Matusz's return to be closer to six weeks than three.  He has already been placed on the DL and rookie Zach Britton has filled his spot in the rotation. Britton looked good on Sunday, allowing one run and striking out six in six innings of work against Tampa. 

Hitters 

Adam Dunn and Matt Holliday

The White Sox's big offseason acquisition underwent an emergency appendectomy on Tuesday night and joins Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday as the second marquee name to undergo the procedure since Opening Day. An appendectomy is needed to remove an inflamed appendix, a tube-like organ that protrudes off the portion of the colon known as the cecum. Its function is widely debated but many believe it is a vestigial organ and no longer has a definitive role in the body. However, it can be cause of concern if infected and inflamed because if untreated it can rupture, spilling the infection into the abdominal area and the neighboring large and small intestines. Fortunately, both Dunn and Holliday were quickly treated before a rupture could occur. Both players underwent a laparoscopic procedure rather than open surgery and should be able to bounce back quickly. The laparoscopic procedure is less invasive and involves the surgeon inserting a small scope and surgical tools through tiny incisions in the abdomen.  The procedure takes longer to perform but requires fewer recovery days and may be less prone to secondary infection. Dunn is hoping to return by the weekend, but that seems like an optimistic best-case scenario.  Instead, give him a week to completely heal and be ready by the middle of next week. Meanwhile, Holliday has already begun running and playing catch is expected to avoid a trip to DL. He hopes to return at some point during the Cardinals' 10-game road trip slated to begin Friday against the Giants in San Francisco. 

Evan Longoria

The Rays will be without one of their top hitters for an extended period of time, as Longoria becomes the latest player to suffer an oblique injury. Longoria has already been placed on the 15-day disabled list and is expected to miss at least three weeks recovering from the injury. The obliques are utilized heavily in trunk rotation and can become nagging injuries.  Milwaukee outfielder Corey Hart suffered a similar injury at the end of February and has yet to take the field for the Brewers. 

Mike Stanton

The Marlins' outfielder has been limited to pinch-hitting after suffering a strained left hamstring. Even when he has reached base, he has immediately been replaced by a pinch-runner. Stanton's injury risk for the remainder of the season is elevated with this latest injury, his second lower extremity muscle injury of the young season. He suffered a strained right quadriceps during training camp and while it's too early to tell if they are related, it remains a troubling trend. The leg is a multifunctional machine that requires each muscle group to work harmoniously to insure efficiency. The muscles must also work synergistically with the muscles of the opposite limb to insure proper gait and speed. An injury to any part of the leg can result an imbalance that can hamper a player's speed and their ability to generate force. Stanton is a guy that is only valuable if his power numbers remain high and it may be time to scale back those expectations.

Follow Jeff Stotts on twitter @RotoWireATC

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