Hanson continues to rehab his impinged throwing shoulder and is set to throw a bullpen session Wednesday. If the bullpen session goes well he will then make a rehab start in the instructional league. Hanson has been rehabbing a small rotator cuff tear, likely the result of an impingement. He seems to have made the necessary changes to his mechanics to alleviate the issue but unfortunately his return will not be in enough time to help fantasy owners. Even if he continues to progress in a positive direction, there's no guarantee he pitches in the regular season. If the Braves clinch before the regular-season finale, the team will allow Hanson to take the mound. However, should the Cardinals take the wild-card race down to the last day Hanson's start would be skipped. Hanson owners shouldn't bet on the young pitcher to serve as their ace in the hole since there is no assurance he will suit up.
Youkilis remains bothered by a sports hernia, a condition that affects the cartilage that conjoins the pubic bones known as the pubic symphysis. Known in the medical world as athletic pubalgia, a hernia of this nature develops as repetitive forces placed through the pubic symphysis are redirected into the groin and abdominals resulting in small tears in the muscle. These tears weaken the abdominal wall and inguinal canal enabling a hernia to develop and protrude through the area. The hernia causes pain in the groin and abdominals while limiting hip function. Consider this pain and the associated pain and limitation stemming from his hip bursitis and it's easy to see why Youkilis has missed six straight games.
The Red Sox third baseman will need surgery in the offseason to repair the area. In the procedure, the herniated protrusion is returned to its normal location and the weakened area is reinforced with a surgical mesh to prevent recurrence. The procedure has a high success rate and generally requires a four-to-six week recovery window. Notable players to undergo the surgery and bounce back include Texas' Ian Kinsler and Toronto's Jose Bautista. Unfortunately, this does little for fantasy owners entrenched in the playoffs and in need of his services this season. Don't count on Youkilis playing much going forward and expect any time he does receive to be accompanied by several days rest.
The Phillies' slugger remains sidelined with ankle bursitis that kept him out of four straight games. He recently received a cortisone injection to help combat the inflammation in the bursa sac and will require a few days off to recover. The left ankle has been an issue for Howard since he sprained the joint last season. He admitted the ankle wasn't 100 percent entering the season and after 146 games, it is not surprising to see it acting up. With the Phillies locked into the fifth straight division title and home-field advantage just about assured, the team will be more inclined to give Howard extended rest to insure his availability in the postseason. Owners in weekly leagues should consider other options while those in day-to-day leagues can continue to use Howard when he does manage to make it into a game.
Mauer's injury plagued 2011 campaign comes to a fitting end. After enduring knee problems, a mystery illness that resulted in bilateral leg weakness, and neck stiffness, the former MVP will see his year ended by pneumonia. He developed an upper respiratory infection earlier in the month that refused to go away despite medication. Doctors have recommended a minimum of two weeks rest, which will keep him out through the end of the season. Mauer will finish the year with three home runs and a .287 batting average in 82 games played. The catcher will need a quiet offseason to focus on strengthening his legs and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Twins give him more time at first base next season.
Mauer's teammate has also been hard hit by injuries as Morneau is again suffering from concussion-related symptoms. Morneau missed a majority of last season after being concussed while sliding into second. The symptoms lingered through the offseason but cleared in time for Opening Day. However, Morneau caught the same bug that hit Mauer and then suffered a pinched nerve in his neck. He suffered a wrist injury shortly thereafter and elected to undergo a surgical procedure to alleviate the lingering neck problems. He returned nearly two months later but jammed his shoulder while attempting a diving catch. His concussion symptoms resurfaced following the dive and the Twins have since elected to shut him down for the remainder of the year. It is likely Morneau's future in baseball hinges on this offseason. If he can rehabilitate the ailing issues he could return to the lineup next season. However, the concussion-related symptoms must subside first. His talent remains undeniable but his health remains a huge obstacle.
The Giants' slugger is another player contemplating offseason surgery. Sandoval suffered a strained left shoulder late last month and is still unable to bat from the left side of the plate. The team reports he may need surgery to repair the shoulder, which suggests the injury is more than just a strain. A strain occurs to the muscle and unless the muscle is completely torn, they rarely require surgical intervention. Shoulder surgery is generally required if there is an unstable ligament or damaged labrum. Last year a procedure of this nature would have caused massive problems for the poorly conditioned and pudgy player known as Kung Fu Panda. However, he committed himself to losing weight in the offseason and slimmed down nearly 50 pounds. He has had an impressive 2011 season, hitting 22 home runs while batting .309 and his number would be even higher if he hadn't missed six weeks with a fractured hamate bone. If the surgery is minor and he remains dedicated to maintaining his current fitness level, Sandoval will enter next season as a quality option at third base.