The New York Yankees
Injury is the theme of New York's spring as a myriad of health-related question marks have emerged. It starts with the captain as Derek Jeter continues to recover from surgery needed to repair a fractured ankle suffered during last year's postseason. Jeter broke his left ankle and underwent surgery to repair the break in late October. The initial timeline estimated he would miss four to five months and he has indeed returned to action during spring training. He played in consecutive games for the first time earlier in the week and it sounds like he will be in the starting lineup on Opening Day. The ankle will be more of an issue in the field while moving laterally to cover shortstop but could also limit him on the basepath in early portions of the season. However these minor issues should not affect his year-end numbers and he has the ability to be a productive player at a discounted rate. Keep in mind Jeter has only appeared on the disabled list twice in his entire career.
Jeter's longtime teammate Mariano Rivera is also recovering from surgery as the most vaunted closer in MLB history is back for the final season of his career. Rivera tore his right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in May while shagging fly balls and underwent surgery in June. The reports on his recovery have been positive and the veteran has pitched several perfect innings since returning to the mound. This is the last chance for fantasy owners to draft Rivera and it looks like there will be minimal risk for those who select the closer.
Another key component of the Bronx Bombers' lineup is expected to miss at least two months after it was determined Mark Teixeira suffered a right wrist strain while hitting balls off a tee. The specific muscle injured was the extensor carpi ulnaris, a muscle responsible for extending the wrist. It also plays a key component in controlling the reverberations of the bat following a hit. If there is any limitation in the muscle's ability to move in a complete range it would limit a hitter's ability to extend and turn their wrists while swinging. Clearly this is an issue, particularly for power hitters as quick wrist action plays a vital role in driving the ball long distances.
Teixeira's wrist has been casted and immobilized to help the injured area heal but in doing so he is more than likely going to suffer additional loss of range of motion. The primary focus of his rehab will be regaining this range of motion before moving on to strength and baseball-related activities. This process can be tedious and time consuming and don't be surprised if Teixeira misses more than the speculated eight weeks.
Furthermore, Teixeira's past suggests the effects could linger even when he does return. Last season the former All-Star suffered a minor wrist injury in late July. He would only miss four total games with the ailment but it appeared to have an effect on his ability at the plate. He hit just three of his 24 total homeruns and four other extra base hits after sustaining the injury. His strained left calf did contribute to those poor numbers but it would be foolish to discount the effects of the wrist injury as well.
The Blue Jays have plenty of new faces this season but a significant portion of their success is pinned to Joey Bats. Bautista's 2012 season ended prematurely after he needed surgery on his ECU, the same muscle discussed previously with Teixeira. However unlike Teixeira, Bautista did not injure the muscle itself but instead the tendon sheath surrounding it. A tendon sheath is a membrane that surrounds a tendon, allowing it to move smoothly. If torn, the tendon can shift uncontrollably when used, causing pain and discomfort and leaving the muscle vulnerable to serious injury. Bautista had this area surgically repaired and the sheath was anchored back to its original position. Fortunately since the muscle and its tendon were not specifically injured any limitation that occurred is the result of the surgery and not the initial injury. Basically, the same concerns that exist with Teixeira still apply to Bautista but the latter has already shown his range of motion is no longer limited. He will need time to reestablish his timing and rhythm and any downgrades on his draft status should be minor.
The Dodgers have to be feeling a tad bit of anxiety as their $147 million investment is already showing signs of wear and tear before ever taking the mound in blue and white. Last week Greinke was sidelined with inflammation in his right throwing elbow. He underwent a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection designed to help stimulate the body's nature immune response and create an environment more conducive to healing. The PRP appear to have helped as Greinke was able to throw a bullpen session Sunday, completing pitches from both the stretch and the windup. The injury raises some obvious red flags as one has to wonder what caused the inflammation in the first place and will it have any long term effects on the elbow in his throwing arm. The Dodgers' schedule to start the season is a favorable one, allowing Greinke to spend 15-days on the disabled list if needed before LA would need to utilize a fifth starter. If progress is slow or if the team elects to take a conservative approach, don't be shocked to see Greinke on the DL to start the year. Downgrade Greinke until he proves this was anything but a minor flare up.
Early reports surrounding Kemp's surgically repaired shoulder are good as the outfielder has not experienced in discomfort during the spring. Kemp needed surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder after crashing into the outfield wall. There is no denying the injury is significant and worth monitoring throughout the year but Kemp's past suggests this was an isolated accident and not a reoccurring problem. Since 2008 he has been a fixture of the Dodgers lineup, averaging 148 games played and that includes the 106 games he played last season. He remains a top-5 pick in all formats.