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Diamond Cuts: Ace On the Mend

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.

Hitters

Paul Konerko

Konerko remains hobbled by a bruised left calf sustained after being drilled by a pitch in the lateral (outside) aspect of his leg. While X-rays revealed he did not suffer a bone break, the ball managed to irritate a neighboring nerve. The irritated nerve is likely one of the branches of the common fibular nerve. This nerve is located near the tendon of the gastrocnemius, one of the muscles of the calf complex. It then wraps around the head of the lower leg bone, the fibula, and splits into the superficial and deep fibular nerves. These nerves help provide both sensory and motor information in the lower leg, meaning there are involved in both sensation and action. A bruised or irritated fibular nerve would cause weakness in foot control and a loss of sensation in the anterior and lateral portions of the leg. Nerves take a significant time to heal and while the injury appears minor it could linger. Konerko missed his third straight game Wednesday, but hopes to return Thursday if he shows signs of improvement. A trip to the DL seems unlikely, but it would be wise to anticipate a small drop in production for the immediate future.

Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez did not play Wednesday and could miss several more games after suffering a sprained left shoulder Tuesday. The injury occurred when he attempted a diving catch in the bottom of the sixth inning in a win over the Mets. The injury is being called a sprain, though Ramirez did admit he felt the shoulder pop out and back in, suggesting a subluxation. While he is currently listed as day-to-day, there is some cause for concern. The left shoulder is the same one that Ramirez needed surgery on following the 2007 season to address a torn labrum. If he irritated any of the previously injured area, he could be out longer than anticipated. Furthermore, the injury comes at a poor time for fantasy owners as the shortstop was entrenched in his best stretch of the season. Hopefully the insurance player you utilized during Ramirez's earlier injury problems is still at your disposal. The Marlins sent Ramirez back to Miami for an MRI on Wednesday to determine the extent of the injury.

Scott Rolen

Rolen will miss four-to-six weeks after undergoing shoulder surgery to remove bone spurs and fragments near his acromioclavicular (AC) joint in his troublesome left shoulder. Rolen has battled left shoulder problems since 2005 when he collided with an opponent. The initial surgery was needed to repair a torn labrum and he has since needed multiple surgeries to remove scar tissue and an inflamed bursa sac. His latest debridement was at the shoulder joint located where the clavicle meets the scapula. The AC joint allows an individual to raise their arm above the head in a motion known as abduction. Multiple surgeries to various joints and articulations of the shoulder are not a good sign for an aging veteran like Rolen. His numbers this season are way down, particularly his power numbers, so an already limited fantasy producer will likely take another step back with this latest operation.

Pitchers

Clay Buchholz

The Red Sox may have to fend off the Yankees for the AL East pennant without one of the key components of their rotation. Buchholz, out since June with a sore lower back, visited with a back specialist earlier in the week. The specialist confirmed Buchholz is battling a stress fracture in his lower back that will jeopardize the rest of his season. The injury is similar to the one sustained earlier in the season by Mets third baseman David Wright. Wright spent over two months on the DL and unfortunately Buchholz will require more time. Pitchers tend to place more torque on their backs while pitching and need extra time to develop strength in their back as the bone heals. Buchholz is worth stashing on the DL, just in case he makes a surprise return. However, do not count on his availability given the tricky nature of the injury.

Johan Santana

Santana's return to the mound appears to be postponed until next year. The former Cy Young winner underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder over the offseason and recently suffered a setback in rehab. The anterior capsule surrounds the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder and includes connective tissue, ligaments, and tendon. It begins at the labrum and attaches at various spots on the shaft of the humerus. The capsule stabilizes the shoulder and helps diffuse the stresses of pitching.

The capsule was repaired in a surgery known as a capsulorrhaphy. In the procedure, surgical anchors were utilized to tighten and secure the capsule. Since undergoing the surgery in September, Santana has progressively rehabbed his arm and appeared headed for a late-season return. However, after pitching three scoreless innings for High-A St. Lucie, Santana was bothered by nagging discomfort and flew back to New York to visit with team physicians. Surgeries of this kind are serious business and Santana would be wise to exhibit extreme patience. Nationals pitcher Chien Ming-Wang had surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in June of 2009 and just recently returned to action. The injury and necessary surgery can be a career killer (just ask Mark Prior) if not handled properly. The smart thing would be for the Mets to shut him down and focus on returning next year. Fantasy owners hoping for some late-season magic should begin looking elsewhere, perhaps in Washington where Stephen Strasburg is progressing nicely.

Stephen Strasburg

The fireball hurler who captivated the baseball world completed a simulated game Tuesday and will begin a rehab assignment with Low-A Hagerstown over the weekend. Strasburg is attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow. He underwent surgery in September of last year and appears to be right on target in the rehab process. Recovery from Tommy John takes generally 10-to-12 months. His return will be handled with extreme caution as Washington prepares for the future and will surely place him on a pitch count. However, he proved last year he's capable of making a big fantasy impact in a small window, going 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched. If you drafted Strasburg and stashed him, it appears you may be rewarded for your optimism.