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Diamond Cuts: Strasburg Sizzles in Return

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

Josh Beckett

All of Red Sox Nation can relax for now as Beckett's ankle injury appears to be minor. The three-time All-Star limped off the field Monday after tweaking his right ankle during the delivery of a pitch. Swelling has been minimal and a recent MRI revealed no damage to the Achilles' tendon or ankle tendons. Often when the ankle is sprained, the muscles that control the foot are strained as they are overstretched or as they violently react in an attempt to steady the foot. In some extreme cases (think Curt Schilling and his bloody sock) the sheath surrounding these muscles and tendons can tear and the tendons will sublux. Fortunately, the damage seems isolated to the ligaments and Beckett can begin rehabbing the injury. The injury is to his plant leg and the ankle must be stable to allow him to generate the proper force while pitching. Any instability or weakness would directly affect his velocity and command. Boston's focus is squarely on the postseason and they will provide their ace as much time as he needs to adequately recuperate. Barring any setbacks, I anticipate Beckett will miss a start or two before returning.

Stephen Strasburg

Congratulations to the Nationals' medical staff and Strasburg for successfully handling his elbow injury, the Tommy John surgery, and the subsequent rehab. Just a year after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) Strasburg was back on the mound, pitching five scoreless innings. Strasburg erupted onto the scene last season and his injury had some grumbling that his career would forever be altered. However open communication, a steadfast work ethic, and a detailed recovery plan has the phenom poised to pick up right where he left off. His command and velocity were strong, proving he has short-term value for the remainder of this season. He unquestionably should be rostered in keeper leagues and should be in for a monster 2012 season.

Brian Wilson

Wilson continues to progress in his elbow rehab and hopes to begin throwing off a mound soon. However, with their playoff chances fading, Giants manager Bruce Bochy has not ruled out shutting his closer down for the remainder of the season. With expanded rosters, San Francisco may not feel the pressure to risk Wilson seriously injuring the elbow. Instead Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez, and Sergio Romo will each get chances to lock down close games. With the fantasy playoffs upon us, now is not the time to roster a player who will be unable to contribute, regardless of his track record or name.

Hitters

Hanley Ramirez

Last week I told fantasy owners that Hanley's latest shoulder setback would end his season and that it was time to move on. Now a week later more details are beginning to surface and it sounds like his availability for the start of next season is now coming into question. Ramirez will undergo shoulder surgery next week to repair the instability in his left shoulder. Renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews will perform the surgery. Specifics regarding the surgery remain unknown, as Dr. Andrews will not know the extent of the damage until after he begins the procedure. This is key for determining the time required for rehabilitation and the success rate of the surgery. However Ramirez's previous surgery in 2007 cannot be overlooked and will play a major factor moving forward. The '07 operation was to repair a torn labrum, the fibrocartilaginous ring that provides stability to the primary shoulder joint, the glenohumeral joint. Again Ramirez's current injury remains unknown but it seems likely the most recent damage is once more to the labrum. Look for a better timeline to emerge following surgery but expect a minimum rehab of around four to six months.

Overcoming a labral repair is much easier than in the past and several players like Justin Upton, Coco Crisp, and Vernon Wells have returned to action following the surgery. However, if the damage is greater than anticipated or Hanley has developed a chronic, reoccurring instability that cannot be completely fixed with surgery, he will be big risk moving forward. Couple the injury with an unproductive season and it seems unlikely Ramirez will be a first-round pick in next year's drafts

Mike Stanton

Han-Ram's teammate remains slowed by a hamstring injury suffered over the weekend. He did make an appearance Tuesday in a pinch-hitting role but was immediately sent to the dugout for a pinch-runner. The strain is clearly not 100 percent and there is no guarantee he will be in the lineup for the foreseeable future. Stanton has had trouble with hamstring and quadriceps injuries all season so this isn't exactly a surprise. Again expanded rosters make a disabled trip unlikely and if you are starving for stats don't hesitate to look for other options.

Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz

Hamilton left in the eighth inning of a blowout win Tuesday with a lower back injury. The injury appears to be nothing as Hamilton was back in the lineup Wednesday but given his track record it's a situation worth closely monitoring.

Meanwhile, Cruz is making progress in his recovery from a strained hamstring. He has begun running but only at 60-70 percent speed and still remains a week or two away from returning, which may be too long to help fantasy owners. Fortunately, Cruz hit the DL before the rosters were expanded so you can stash Nelly and his boom-stick until that time.

Rickie Weeks

Out since late July, Weeks is hoping to be activated in the coming days in order to prepare for the postseason. Weeks suffered a left ankle sprain while beating out an infield hit. He stepped awkwardly on first base, forcefully turning the ankle inward. No bones were broken but the sprain was classified as severe. Weeks will return in a limited capacity initially, serving as a pinch-hitter. Expect him back in the field once his lateral movement and quickness have sufficiently returned. Like Stanton, it is hard to count on a National League player reduced to a pinch-hitting role but if Weeks begins to see action in the closing weeks of the season, he could serve as a valuable addition in a shallow position.