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Diamond Cuts: Shouldering the Load

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

Jose Contreras

Hopefully the third time is the charm for Philadelphia, as Ryan Madson becomes the third player to man the closer role this season. Brad Lidge entered spring training as the man but suffered a posterior rotator cuff strain and will remain sidelined until the All-Star break. Contreras took over and was perfect in five save opportunities before joining Lidge on the disabled list. The 39-year-old closer was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained flexor pronator tendon in his right elbow. The flexor muscles of the forearm originate at the medial epicondyle of the humerus, the same site as the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). The proximity of the muscle tendons and UCL ligament make it a precarious location for pitching injuries. Fortunately a MRI showed no structural damage and the team is calling the injury a Grade 1 strain. A Grade 1 is the lowest graded strain and indicates the majority of the damage was at a micro-level. The Phillies anticipate Contreras will miss at least three weeks while recovering and rehabbing. In the meantime, Madson becomes a must-add in all leagues.

Neftali Feliz and Darren O'Day

The Rangers' closer was also placed on the DL with shoulder inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Feliz experienced some tightness in his shoulder and the Rangers elected to play it safe with their young reliever. An extended workload in spring training is the likely culprit behind the injury as the Rangers flirted with the idea of moving Feliz into the starting rotation. While he will likely be healthy enough to return to action when he is eligible, I wouldn't be surprised to see Texas give him some extra time to insure the shoulder is 100 percent. Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver will be used at manager Ron Washington's discretion for any save opportunities with Feliz out.

Feliz will be joined in the athletic training room by fellow reliever Darren O'Day. Early Wednesday, O'Day used his Facebook account to reveal he will be headed to DL with a torn labrum in his left hip. The submariner could be out an extensive period of time should the tear be significant. Seattle reliever David Aardsma has yet to pitch this season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn hip labrum in December.

Zack Greinke

The Brewers' big offseason acquisition is scheduled to make his Milwaukee debut May 4 after missing the first month of the season recovering from broken ribs. The former Cy Young winner has progressed nicely through rehab and is slated to appear with Triple-A Nashville on Friday. His first rehab outing was a little rough as he struggled with his command, allowing two runs on three hits in 2.2 innings. The command issues can be attributed to being a tad rusty after sitting for such a significant stretch of time. If he can put the injury behind him, Greinke has a chance to thrive in the National League and could be a substantial boost for fantasy owners that have struggled out of the gate.

Hitters

Albert Pujols

Pujols owners and Cardinals fans feared the worst when a hamstring strain forced him from Sunday's win over the Reds. Fortunately the injury appears mild and his removal was purely precautionary. After a scheduled off-day on Monday he did not start against the Astros but did enter the game as a pinch-hitter and played two innings at first base. His appearance Tuesday is encouraging and reiterates the point that the injury is not considered serious. The three-time MVP hopes to be back in the lineup Wednesday.

Logan Morrison

After a solid start to the year, Morrison suffered an unusual injury early last week. The young outfielder was hitting .327 with four home runs before suffering a Lisfranc injury in his left foot while batting. The Lisfranc joint is located at the tarsometatarsal region of the midfoot. In this spot the bones of the arch (the tarsals) connect to the long bones of the foot (the metatarsals). An injury to this ligament compromises the integrity of the foot and Morrison is fortunate he did not suffer a fracture. However, he sprained the ligament in this location while also straining the surrounding musculature. He was placed in a hard cast for five days and is now wearing his normal athletic shoes fitted with orthotic inserts. Like O'Day, Morrison utilized social networking to discuss his injury; he has documented his progression from cast to walking boot on his Twitter account and recently stated the doctors feel he is ahead of schedule. He is optimistic he will be ready to come off the DL on May 5 but the Marlins' medical staff will be sure not to rush him back.

Lisfranc injuries can be difficult to manage and it is key to limit the amount of weight-bearing stress placed on the foot while it heals. Morrison bats left-handed, meaning his left foot is his plant foot when in the box. The plant foot must be able to not only absorb an increased amount of weight with the various weight transferring involved in a normal swing but also must twist while firmly planted. Any instability to his arch or weakness in the muscles could make this motion difficult and painful and leave him susceptible to further injury.

Morrison is currently headed to the Marlins' spring training complex to continue his rehabilitation. Look for him to come back some point in early to mid-May but understand he may need some time to round into form.

Franklin Gutierrez

After months of confusion, specialists at the Mayo Clinic were able to provide Gutierrez with a name for the stomach ailment that has bothered him for some time now. The doctors have diagnosed Gutierrez with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that affects the portion of the large intestine known as the colon. Individuals with IBS often experience abdominal pain and irregular changes in bowel movements. While the root of IBS remains a mystery, those affected by IBS have learned to manage the disorder with medication, stress reduction, and diet management. The Mariners' outfielder will begin a medicine regime and hopes to put back on the weight he's lost while dealing with the issue. It seems possible he could return to action by mid-May, but Gutierrez will need time to learn how to control his IBS and to allow the medication to properly work. He could be a sneaky addition for teams in need of stolen bases and if able to return to his 2009 form, a nice pickup for fantasy owners.

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