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Diamond Cuts: Down Goes Soto

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

Roy Oswalt

Oswalt is the latest Phillie to visit the athletic training room joining teammates Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, and Brad Lidge on the disabled list. Oswalt is suffering from back inflammation that began in mid-April. A brief break to tend to family matters did not help the situation and the stiffness has lingered.

Oswalt has a history of back problems dating back to 2007 when a vertebral disk in his back began bulging, pinching a neighboring nerve. The impingement caused left leg numbness and prematurely ended his season. The back flared up again in 2008 and 2009, resulting in several more stints on the disabled list. The latest round of spasms left him stiff and in pain but the three-time All-Star has progressed nicely during rehab.

The muscles of the back are both superficial and deep. They extend the entire length of vertebral column and are often injured during trunk rotation. If any of theses muscles become inflamed the muscle will begin to spontaneous and painful contract. The vicious pain-spasm cycle must be broken and the root of the problem must be treated.

While Oswalt remains optimistic that he will return early next week (Tuesday) after a brief rehab stint with High-A Clearwater (Thursday), his past cannot be ignored. Fantasy owners should continue to employ a healthy Oswalt, but keep in mind another trip to the disabled list is an awkward step or throw away.

Jonathan Broxton

The Dodgers will be without their primary closer for up to six weeks after Broxton sustained an elbow injury. A MRI revealed a bone bruise and a bone spur in the back of his right elbow that was causing stiffness and fluid accumulation. No structural damage was found. While no ligament damage is definitely a good sign, the primary concern remains the bone spur.

The elbow is a hinge joint that moves in a way that mimics a door hinge. If the joint is mechanically unstable or if subjected to excessive amounts of force (like throwing a baseball), an osteophyte or bone spur can develop. These calcium buildups often act like a doorjamb in the joint, limiting the range of motion of the elbow. It is likely the bone spur is causing the bruising and fluid buildup in Broxton's elbow and is the cause of the recent dip in velocity.

Broxton will be shut down for an extended period of time and surgery is not currently being discussed. However, at some point the spur will need to be excised if it is truly the reason for the bruising. Several big name pitchers have undergone elbow debridement procedures including Rafael Soriano and Johan Santana. In the meantime, veteran Vicente Padilla will assume the closing duties for Los Angeles and is worth an addition if you need saves.

Brandon Lyon

Lyon is yet another reliever expected to miss a significant stretch after an MRI exam on his ailing right shoulder revealed tendinitis in his biceps and a partial tear in his rotator cuff. The Astros and Lyon have elected to proceed conservatively and will see if the minor tear can heal without surgery. He will being a rehab program intended to control and minimize the inflammation from both the tendinitis and tear, before progressing to range of motion and strength exercises.

The injury was limiting the strength of Lyon's throwing shoulder and likely attributed to his rough start in which he has suffered four blown saves in eight tries. If you stayed with Lyon despite the rough start, it is time to invest in Mark Melancon, who has already registered a save against the Pirates.

David Aardsma

Aardsma's return from hip surgery will be delayed even longer after it was discovered he has a Grade II sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). The UCL is infamous among pitchers because it is the ligament repaired in Tommy John pitchers. More information is needed before Seattle elects to go down that road, but it is important to remember that a Grade II sprain means some fibers of the ligament have been torn.
Aardsma has feverishly been working his way back from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip and it will be interesting to see if a change in mechanics because of the hip resulted in the UCL damage. Often times a pitcher's body will unknowingly begin to compensate for an injured or recovering area and place undue stress on the elbow and shoulder. Since Aardsma has yet to pitch this season, the injury doesn't directly affect fantasy owners, unless of course he was stashed away on your DL. Brandon League's value increases and it would be wise to consider cutting Aardsma loose if you need the space on your DL.

Hitters

Kendrys Morales

Fantasy owners that made a speculative grab on Morales continue to wait as the Angels' first baseman has yet to play. Morales suffered an ankle fracture last season that require surgery to repair. He had a recent setback and needed a cortisone injection to combat the inflammation. He is slated to visit the renowned Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colorado for a second opinion. Dr. Thomas Clayton, best known for his work on the ankle of Houston Rocket center Yao Ming, will examine Morales and hopefully provide some insight as to why the recovery process is taking longer than expected. With the one-year anniversary of the injury just weeks away, Dr. Clayton will hopefully be able to help Morales get over the hump in his rehab. Morales remains weeks away and will likely need a lengthy rehab assignment to get back into the swing of things.

Geovany Soto

The Cubs will be without Soto's services for at least two weeks after the catcher was placed on the DL with a strained left groin. Soto suffered the injury while attempting to block a ball behind the plate. The groin is responsible for moving the legs toward the midline of the body in a motion known as adduction. The groin if often injured when overstretched in the opposite direction while running or, in Soto's case, performing the splits. Based on his position and the demands catching places on the legs, the Cubs will not risk rushing Soto back to quickly. Don't be surprised if he needs a little extra time past the allotted 15 days to completely recover.

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