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Diamond Cuts: Philling Up The Tank

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.

Pitchers

Roy Oswalt

The vaunted Philadelphia starting rotation may get a key component back soon with Oswalt's bothersome back feeling better. The veteran threw a successful bullpen session on Tuesday and is slated to toss another Friday. Oswalt has been dealing with a chronic back pain stemming from a bulging disk in his back. The disk was impinging on nerves, causing numbness and pain to Oswalt's lower extremity. In addition to rest and rehabilitation, he has received multiple injections to the area. The latest injection was delivered just prior to the All-Star break and has alleviated a majority of his pain. The three-time All-Star could be sent out on a rehab assignment as soon as next week and is targeting in early August return to the Phillies. He remains a high-risk addition but could bolster a fantasy roster in need of pitching for the finals weeks of the season.

Roy Halladay

Oswalt's teammate underwent a scary episode Monday when heat illness forced Halladay from a game against the Cubs. While the temperature was in the low 90s, the humid air made the heat index much higher, which proved to be problematic for the former Cy Young winner. Halladay, an athlete well known for his conditioning routine, was visibly fatigued and profusely sweating. His skin was flush and he admitted feeling dizzy. His various attempts to cool himself were unsuccessful and he was eventually was removed from the game. Halladay was provided ample fluids and rested for several hours in a cool location in the locker room following his exit. The team physicians examined the pitcher before allowing him to leave for the night.

Heat illness is a serious condition that progresses through various forms. Heat syncope and heat cramps are the mildest forms but should not be taken lightly. If untreated, heat illness can develop in to heat exhaustion or a medical emergency known as a heatstroke. It sounds like Halladay was suffering from heat exhaustion but because of the proper care provided by the athletic training staff he isn't expected to miss his next start. There are no indications that it should be an issue going forward and expect the already methodical Halladay to improve his pregame hydration routine before his next outing.

Hitters

Ryan Braun

The Milwaukee slugger remains slowed by a left calf strain that has kept him out of nine of the Brewers' last 15 games. He attempted to return following the All-Star break, but was removed early from Saturday's outing and was limited to one at-bat in Sunday and Monday's games. He was active Tuesday night and went 1-for-3 with a home run before exiting in the fifth. The early departure was part of Milwaukee's plan to gradually integrate him back to the lineup. However, this injury could remain an issue going forward. In addition to the calf strain, Braun has also reported tightness in his left hamstring. Strains of these two muscle groups often go hand-in-hand, due to their proximity and dependence on each other. The distal tendons of the hamstrings insert near the location of the proximal tendons of the calf. Often when injured, the area is weakened making it susceptible to further injury. Furthermore, both muscle groups work together to bend the knee while walking and running. Any injury or imbalance in one muscle group could directly alter and weaken the other, leading to disruptive biomechanics.

The Brewers will proceed with the current course of action, slowly working Braun back into the lineup. However, it may be worth finding a suitable replacement to stash on your bench should either muscle group begin bothering Braun again.

Grady Sizemore

The often-injured outfielder has been placed on the disabled list for the third time this season after suffering a knee contusion while running the bases. Sizemore's mechanism of injury suggested the injury was much worse than the bone bruise the subsequent MRI revealed. While this is good news, this marks the second time he has been placed on the DL with a bone contusion in his right patella. As previously discussed, bone contusions commonly occur in baseball particularly in poorly protected areas like the shin and knee. Contusions to the bone occur when the outer periosteal tissue is damaged or cracked. To completely heal, the body must lay down new bone tissue just as it would for a true fracture. Sizemore's situation is complicated by his previous injury and extra time may be needed for the patella to heal. The Indians have not placed a definitive timetable on his return and will likely continue to evaluate the injury.

Sizemore's past doesn't suggest any reason for optimism either. Last season he suffered a deep bone bruise in his left knee and ultimately required microfracture surgery to repair the area. In the microfracture procedure intended for patellar repair, tiny, microfractures are created in the bone. In response to the man-made fractures, the body creates marrow-filled blood clots to begin repairing the damaged cartilage. After time, the damage is repaired and replaced with healthy, new cartilage. While Sizemore may avoid surgery, fantasy owners should be prepared for the worst.

David Wright

With shortstop Jose Reyes back from a hamstring strain, the Mets' offense could get another boost with the impending return of Wright. Out since May 15 with a stress fracture in his back, Wright has begun a rehab assignment with High-A St. Lucie and is currently batting .400 through four games. His rehab surely focused on strengthening his core muscles, particularly the lower back muscles surrounding the area. There is a common misconception that the core is limited to the abdominal muscles. However, the core is actually made up of muscles in the abdominals, back, neck, and trunk. By improving the strength and flexibility in all of the core muscles, Wright can stabilize the injured area and help avoid a future recurrence. His condition is manageable and he should be plugged back into your lineup upon his activation.