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Diamond Cuts: Matt Kemp, Ryan Howard, and Yadier Molina

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.


Matt Kemp

Kemp has suffered another injury, just as the Dodgers outfielder appeared to be rounding into form. He was an early exit from Friday's game and was a sidelined through the weekend with left shoulder injury. His problem is slightly different from his previous injury but it's still a cause for concern.

The specific site of his latest injury is the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. The AC joint is the spot where the collarbone connects to a bony process on the shoulder blade known as the acromion.  It acts as a strut of sorts, increasing the range of motion for the rest of the shoulder. Kemp's 2012 injury was not to the AC joint, but instead the glenohumeral joint. He tore the cartilage disc known as the labrum and underwent offseason surgery to fix the issue. The shoulder has held up as the season as progressed until Friday's setback. Any limitation in the AC joint could put unnecessary stress on the glenohumeral joint making it vulnerable to re-injury.

Kemp received a cortisone injection to treat the irritation that has now developed in the AC joint. Cortisone is an anti-inflammatory and as the inflammation decreases so too will the associated pain. Kemp is already reporting improvement and hopes to play Monday. If Kemp is able to stay in the lineup and avoid the disabled list, he will be at an increased risk for injury for the immediate future. It would also be wise to expect a dip in productivity until the shoulder is no longer an issue.

Yadier Molina

Molina has been an elite option at catcher, hitting a league best .346 average with 26 doubles and over 100 hits. His value isn't limited to just offense, as he has appeared in 81 of the Cardinal's first 86 games logging more innings behind the plate than any other catcher. Unfortunately the grind of the position appears to have taken its toll as Molina's right knee has become inflamed. Fortunately a MRI taken revealed all the ligaments and meniscus are intact. Despite the pain and discomfort, Molina plans to stay in the lineup. St. Louis is betting additional rest will help but no other position on the diamond stresses the knees like catcher. Molina has seen time at first base but he's too valuable to the team to spend a majority of his time elsewhere. Until the knee calms down expect more days off for the five-time All-Star.

Yasmani Grandal

The Padres weren't as lucky and have placed their catcher on the DL after Grandal sustained damage to his ACL and MCL following a collision with Washington's Anthony Rendon. X-rays were negative but the MRI slated for Monday will ultimately reveal the extent of the damage to the injured ligaments.  San Diego was aggressive with Grandal's designation placing him on the 60-day DL. The move is a good indicator the damage is significant and a complete tear would mean season-ending surgery. Either way Grandal's fantasy value will be low as he's out for at least two months.

Ryan Howard

Howard is yet another National League player dealing with knee issues though his problems appear to be chronic and not acute. Howard has been dealing with pain and stiffness in his left knee and manager Charlie Manuel recently referred to the condition as arthritis. Arthritis is a difficult condition to manage. Often the symptoms can be treated with anti-inflammatory injections and other modalities but little can be done to improve the root of the condition. He could attempt to alleviate stress on the area by making biomechanical chances to his gait pattern or batting stance but that could lead to problems elsewhere. The effected left leg is the same extremity that cost Howard a majority of last season after he needed surgery to repair a torn Achilles. Adjustments at the knee could negatively affect the ankle and Achilles.

However a recent MRI revealed the true culprit behind the constant swelling, a torn meniscus. The slugger will miss undergo surgery in the near future and will be out at least six weeks. However because this is his troublesome left side, I'm expecting it to take at least two months. I was low on Howard entering the year and this latest setback only enhances my fears. Howard owners should start looking for other options if you haven't already.

Check Swings

Lance Berkman: The Rangers have once again placed Berkman on the DL, this time with a muscle injury located in his back and hip region. His knees have been a problem all season and it sounds like the new injury is a cascade injury caused by these previous issues. Berkman has been ice cold recently so use this opportunity to move on. It doesn't appear the injury will clear a path for Manny Ramirez's MLB return but it could only help his cause.

Ryan Braun: Braun completed a pain-free batting practice session over the weekend and is in line to return by the end of the week. He won't be a legit weapon in weekly leagues but the timing of his return will allow him to get reps prior to upcoming All-Star break. He's dealing with an inflamed nerve in his hand.

Carlos Gonzalez: The Rockies outfielder left Sunday's loss to the Diamondbacks after suffering a sprained middle finger on his right hand. He's considered day-to-day but don't be surprised if he misses a game or two to start the week.

Derek Jeter: Jeter collected the first hit of his rehab assignment over the weekend but more importantly looked comfortable running the bases. He advanced from first to third on a single showing no signs of ankle problems. The Yankees have yet to release the exact timeline for his return to the club but he has an outside shot to return before the break.

Troy Tulowitzki: Tulowitzki could return this week from a rib fracture sustained in early June. He's set to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Colorado Springs on Monday. Tulo needs to take his time with his comeback especially given his position. Shortstop requires a lot of diving and twisting, exposing the ribs to reinjury. He needs to be back performing at a high-level for at least 10-to-14 days before I'd get comfortable believing the injury is behind him.

Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod is currently serving as the designated hitter for Single-A Tampa as he prepares for a return from offseason hip surgery. Returning from a third major lower leg surgery is tough enough but a quick look at the numbers has to give fantasy owners additional reason to pause before running to pick him up. His OPS has declined in each of the past five years and he's no longer a threat to steal bases. Couple these facts with a looming suspension and it's hard to imagine anyone thinking he's worth a gamble.