Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre
The Rangers are trying to fend off the surging Athletics as the season winds to a close but the task hasn't gotten more difficult with two of their biggest bats ailing. Hamilton has not played since Tuesday as he has been plagued by a sinus infection. While a sinus infection may seem like a minor issue for a professional athlete, the infection is causing Hamilton to have vision and equilibrium problems. Manager Ron Washington said his All-Star was having trouble staying balanced while fielding as well as dealing with blurry vision. The team sent him back to Texas for further evaluation and extra time to rest and recuperate.
For those that still doubt the seriousness of the infection, keep in mind Hamilton has a well-documented history of substance abuse including cocaine. In his 2008 autobiography Beyond Belief, Hamilton vividly describes the damage the drug did to his sinuses.
Hamilton wrote, "I used so much the cocaine tore through my sinuses. I would sit in the room with a T-shirt in my hands, blowing 6- to 8-inch-long strings of tissue out of my nose and into the shirt. I could feel them hanging loose behind the bridge of my nose, and I would blow and blow until they came out. The T-shirts were covered in blood and the meaty flesh of my sinuses." (p 114)
It's simple to dismiss a sinus infection for some, Hamilton can't. It may be frustrating for fantasy owners but the Rangers medical staff is making a smart call by resting Hamilton. The Rangers are hoping the American League home run leader will be able to return to the lineup when the team returns to Texas for a pivotal four-game series against the aforementioned Athletics. Given the uncertainty of the situation fantasy owners should consider other options, particularly in weekly leagues.
If Hamilton's ailment wasn't enough, Beltre has also been sidelined with a sickness of his own. Gastrointestinal problems kept him out of two games earlier in the week and he stayed in Los Angeles in extra day for further testing. Doctors discovered scar tissue from a previous abdominal surgery that may require offseason surgery. In 2001 Beltre underwent an appendectomy to remove his appendix, which later required a follow up procedure. Offseason surgery may be needed if the pain persists or worsens but it sounds like Beltre will tough it out for the remainder of the year. Washington said he plans on using Beltre as a designed hitter more frequently to help buy Beltre some respite. He finished 1-for-4 in his return to the lineup on Saturday.
The Yankees are sending Teixeira on a rehab assignment but not the kind we are accustomed to seeing. With the Triple-A season wrapped up, Tex will head to Tampa to participate in instructional league games. The two-time All-Star has not played since aggravating his strained left calf on September 8, just 11 days after the initial injury. However I still think he is at least a week away from returning to the New York lineup. Teixeira admitted that the area was still swollen and sore as early as Thursday of last week, suggesting the strain is not fully healed. After the last setback it sounds like the Yankees will be especially cautious this second time around, even with the Orioles breathing down their necks in the standings. If you are playing in weekly leagues start looking for a replacement.
The Red Sox are taking a page out of the Patriots' handbook and tightly guarding the specifics surrounding the injury currently holding Ellsbury out. There have been reports that the speedster will be out until at least Tuesday. If the injury is anything serious don't expect Ellsbury to play through pain, especially with Boston out of the playoff picture and free agency on the horizon. Ellsbury had an impressive 2011 campaign but injuries have once again limited to him just 70 games.
Dusty Baker and the Reds
I don't often cover the health of individuals not on the field but Baker's absence could have fantasy significance. Baker is in a Chicago hospital receiving treatment for an irregular heartbeat. An irregular heartbeat can mean a variety of things but it's extremely important for the issue to be properly treated. Baker has dealt with the condition before but needs time to rest in an environment with as little stress as possible. Clearly that isn't in the dugout of a playoff contending team as interim manager and bench coach Chris Speier is learning first hand.
Speier, pitching coach Bryan Price, and Baker discussed strategy prior to Baker's departure, including tweaks to the rotation to prepare for the postseason. The Reds will use the pitchers in the following order: Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey and Mike Leake.
However other critical decisions will fall on Speier including what to do regarding several injured players, including outfielder Ryan Ludwick and closer Aroldis Chapman. Ludwick has missed three straight games nursing a sore groin and it seems likely that he will receive more time off with a division title clinched.
Chapman's situation is a bit murkier as the team tries to ease the reliever back into game shape after he missed nearly two weeks with shoulder fatigue. He made a brief appearance Saturday where his velocity was slightly improved as he pitched a hitless inning. He can't be counted on for saves as this point but he should get several more appearances to prep for the playoffs.
After aggravating his injured side during a bullpen session, it looks like the season may be over for Westbrook. Out since September 8 with an oblique strain, the right-hander lasted just a few pitches before feeling stiffness and pain in the area. When the injury initially occurred the Cardinals feared it would cost him the remainder of the year. This latest setback enhances those odds and any owner still clinging on to hope can move on and look elsewhere.