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Diamond Cuts: Sliding On By

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

Brett Anderson

The A's received a bit of rare good news from the dreaded Dr. James Andrews, after the orthopedist did not feel the injury to Anderson's throwing elbow warranted Tommy John surgery. Instead, Anderson will undergo a platelet-rich plasma injection and rehabilitate the injury. In the procedure, a sample of the athlete's own blood is drawn and placed into a centrifuge.  The centrifuge spins the blood at a high speed forcing various components of the sample to separate. A platelet-rich mixture is then extracted from the sample and injected into the elbow. The PRP injection is highly concentrated with platelets, the primary component of blood responsible for clotting. As a result the environment at the injury site is more conducive to healing and the recovery process becomes faster and more efficient.

Anderson has a history of elbow issues dating back to last season when he was limited to 19 total starts. The elbow injuries can likely be attributed to Anderson's overuse of his slider. The slider is a devastating pitch for batters but it does even more damage on the pitcher's elbow. During the delivery of the pitch, the arm is required to undergo a motion known as supination at very high speeds. This movement focuses the majority of the stress on the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow. If the pitch is utilized continuously the ligament is more susceptible to wearing down over time. For a pitcher like Anderson who throws his slider over 44 percent of the time, it is easy to understand how and why his elbow is causing him problems.

Fantasy owners should be tentative moving forward with Anderson. History has shown us that pitchers reliant on the slider are more likely to undergo Tommy John at some point in their careers. Guys like Josh Johnson, Joba Chamberlain, Chris Carpenter, and Francisco Liriano are all perfect examples. Furthermore, even if the PRP injection works, the injured area will be once again be subjected to excessive force when Anderson does return and begins repeatedly throwing his slider.

Josh Johnson

While the Marlins' pitcher has well recovered from his 2007 Tommy John surgery, he continues to battle shoulder problems. The Marlins recently moved their ace from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL, meaning Johnson won't return until after the All-Star break. Johnson, whose 2010 season prematurely ended with shoulder and back issues, is still having pain in his inflamed shoulder. A MRI performed revealed no structural damage. Instead Johnson simply needs a rest, a fact the Marlins are clearly aware of, as indicated by the DL transfer. Expect Johnson to slowly advance though the rehab process. Pay close attention to his ability to throw off a mound and how much time is needed between throwing sessions as they will serve as good indicators of Johnson's progression.

Hitters

Derek Jeter

For the first time since 2003, Jeter will be placed on the DL, derailing his quest for 3,000 career hits. The Yankees' captain has been placed on the 15-day DL with a Grade I strain in his right calf. The calf is a muscle complex made up of two muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus. It is responsible for pointing the toes in a motion known as plantar flexion and plays a key role in acceleration. Calf strains can be very problematic and nagging injuries, particularly for veteran shortstops. Just ask anyone who owned Jimmy Rollins last season. The Phillies' shortstop missed two lengthy stints last year with a similar injury and recently admitted it didn't completely heal until the offseason. Though his injury is less severe, Jeter would be wise to heed Rollins' unsolicited advice and take his time during recovery. Expect New York to take an extremely conservative approach with Jeter and allow him all the time he needs to recuperate. Eduardo Nunez will get the first crack at manning the position but infielder Ramiro Pena has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and could take over should Nunez stumble.

Martin Prado

The Braves' leader in runs is dealing with a calf injury of a different variety. Prado has been placed on the 15-day DL with a staph infection that began as an abrasion on his right calf. A staph infection involves the Staphylococcus group of bacteria. The bacteria are fairly common, with almost one-third of the general population carrying some form of staph somewhere on their body, most commonly in the nose. Staph only becomes an issue when it gets inside an open sore or wound, causing infection. Often the infection is minor but in some extreme cases can lead to high fever and other serious complications. Fortunately, the majority of staph infections are treatable with antibiotics.

Athletes are at an increased risk for developing a staph infection because the bacteria thrive in sweaty, damp places, making a team locker room the perfect breeding ground. Even the extensive cleaning routines practiced by most clubhouse attendants and medical personal cannot completely prevent a staph infection. Instead it's up to the players to practice good personal hygiene and report any suspicious looking cuts or sores.

Prado has had the injury site cleaned and treated with antibiotics and should be fully recovered with two to three weeks. The time off will also allow him to rest his other calf, bruised after being struck by a pitch.

Freddy Sanchez

It appears the season may over for Sanchez after he suffered a dislocated right shoulder. He injured the shoulder while diving to make a defensive stop against the Reds. He also suffered a torn labrum and overstretched capsule on the play and has already been placed on the DL. He has not elected to undergo surgery yet but it would be surprising to see him avoid going under the knife. He has a history of shoulder issues and is currently seeking a second opinion from the physician that performed his offseason surgery. In the meantime, Emmanuel Burriss and Bill Hall will platoon at second base for the Giants.

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