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Diamond Cuts: Eyes on the Prize

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.

Mike Napoli
 
Playing behind the plate takes a toll on a player's body. Catchers are prone to chronic injuries, particularly knee pain, and often must shift position later in their career. The Red Sox had hoped moving Napoli to first base would help alleviate any lingering injury woes and help him bounce back from a mediocre final season in Texas. The move seemed to help him manage his problematic hips but a new issue has recently popped up that could be the culprit behind Napoli's second-half swoon.
 
It was recently revealed that Napoli is suffering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The condition arises when the connective tissue supporting the arch of the foot becomes inflamed. Occasionally the tissue can partially tear, causing additional pain and inflammation. Certain elements can increase the likelihood of plantar fasciitis, including foot structure, improper shoes, and body type. Napoli's size is likely a factor here and could make a quick return more difficult.
 
The former All-Star missed both of Boston's games over the weekend and could receive a bit of extended rest given the team's upcoming road trip. The Red Sox will play six games over the next eight days during an interleague west coast trip that has them facing off against the Giants and Dodgers. Without the luxury of a designated hitter, slugger David Ortiz will be forced to play the field. With Papi at first, it's seems logical that the Red Sox will rest the ailing Napoli. He may participate in a game or two and could potentially pinch hit but Napoli will be a risky play in weekly formats.

Bartolo Colon
 
The A's will continue their push for the postseason without Colon's services for at least the next two weeks after a groin strain forced him to the 15-day disabled list.
 
The pitching mechanics for each individual are very precise and broken down into multiple phases. These phases include the wind up, cocking phase, acceleration phase, and follow-though. During these various stages more than half of the required kinetic energy is generated from the waist down. When a deficiency in one of the lower extremity occurs, a pitcher may experience a dip in velocity and may also adversely alter their mechanics. Doing so places excessive stress on other areas of the body's kinetic chain, making the pitcher more susceptible to additional injuries in both the arms and legs.

A groin strain would directly limit the side-to-side motion in Colon's pitching mechanics. The groin is a muscle group primarily responsible for pulling the leg is inward toward the midline of the body in a direction known as adduction. If limited due to a strain, a pitcher would have difficulty transferring his body weight and the resultant force during the acceleration and follow-through phases of each pitch.
 
The injury appeared to be an issue in Colon's last two outings as the veteran surrendered 10 runs in less than seven innings of combined work. He must show that he can successfully and smoothly complete each of his various pitches before he will be able to return. If the strain is mild, and all indications are that it is, he could miss the minimum amount of time. However given his size and age, I'd expect him to miss closer to three weeks.

Dan Uggla
 
The Atlanta infielder underwent eye surgery to fix astigmatism initially diagnosed in Spring Training. Astigmatism is a defect of the eye that causes the effected individual to experience blurred vision. The problem arises because of an irregular shaped lens or cornea that inhibits light from correctly focusing on the retina. The condition is quite common and easily treated. 
 
Uggla underwent LASIK surgery to reshape his defective cornea. In the procedure a laser is used to correct the problem and improve the individual's vision. LASIK has a high success rate and generally heals quickly. The risk of infection is present and could be problematic for a baseball player.
 
The Braves are taking the necessary precautions and withholding Uggla from field work to insure dirt and dust particles do not get in his eyes. His vision has reportedly improved significantly and he hopes to be back on the field when he is first eligible on August 28. If his vision is improved enough to bring his .186 batting average up, Uggla could be a nice addition if he's lingering on your waiver wire.

Check Swings

Gio Gonzalez: Gonzalez felt a small bit of tightness in his back following a rain-shortened outing on August 13. However he successfully pitched in his next scheduled start Sunday, lasting seven innings and striking out nine. He's safe to keep in your rotation.

Ryan Howard: The chances of Howard playing again this year are looking a bit bleaker after it was recently reported the slugger has yet to swing a bat. He has begun running, but only on an anti-gravity treadmill designed to reduce the amount of stress placed through and on the joint. The team had hoped he could return in late August.

Desmond Jennings: Jennings is hoping to return Monday after missing the last two weeks with a small fracture in his left middle finger. He completed a rehab appearance with High-A Charlotte but admitted the digit is not pain-free. He does most his damage with speed but anticipate some initial struggles at the plate as he adjusts.

Matt Moore: Moore continues to make progress in his comeback attempt from muscle soreness in his throwing elbow. He completed tosses from 75 feet and did not experience any reoccurrence of his symptoms. If he stays on his current course it seems likely he's back in the Tampa Bay rotation before September.

Jose Reyes: The often-injured shortstop did not play over the weekend after experiencing soreness in his right knee. The Blue Jays have Monday off and the team is hoping he will be available following the extended break. Consider him day-to-day.

Mike Trout: The Angels outfielder felt a small twinge in his hamstring over the weekend and will be evaluated Monday to determine his status for the remainder of the week. He's hoping to play but anticipate the Angels proceeding with caution as a playoff berth is highly unlikely.