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Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: Ready to Cruz Again

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.


Chad Billingsley - Despite protests from Billingsley, the Dodgers have placed the right-hander on the disabled list with a right groin strain. Billingsley injured the groin late in a recent loss to the Angels in which he gave up nine hits and seven earned runs. A MRI revealed no structural damage, but the medical staff elected to place him on the DL with fears he could not only injure the groin more significantly but also alter his mechanics and open himself up to other injuries.

When pitching, more than 50% of the necessary kinetic energy is produced from the waist down. When a deficiency in the lower extremity occurs, the pitchers can not only lose velocity on their pitches, but also may negatively alter their mechanics and place excessive stress on various parts of the body’s kinetic chain. When this occurs the pitcher is more susceptible to other injuries.

In Billingsley’s case a strained groin would affect the lateral motion in his pitching mechanics. The groin muscles are a muscle group primarily responsible for the motion of adduction. Adduction occurs when the leg is pulled inward toward the midline of the body. If a strain occurs here, Billingsley would have difficulty transferring his body weight and the resultant force in the acceleration and follow-through phases of each pitch. By resting Billingsley, the Dodgers are insuring that he will be pain-free when pitching and able to deliver his pitches with the appropriate mechanics. Expect his stint on the DL to be brief. Rookies John Ely and Carlos Monasterios will take turns filling in for the injured right-hander.

Rich Harden - Texas is also dealing with an injury to one of their top hurlers as Harden was recently placed on the disabled list with a strained right gluteus muscle. While many people may snicker that Harden was shelved with a pain in his butt, like described with Billingsley, a lower extremity injury can be problematic for pitchers. Three muscles make up the glute group, the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus is the biggest and strongest of the group and works to externally rotate and extend the hip joint. The gluteus medius and minimus work together to abduct the hip and internally rotate the hip. A strain to any of the muscles would negatively effect a pitcher’s throwing mechanics particularly in the windup and cocking phases when the leg is lifted and extended. The team has already stated Harden will require at least two rehab starts prior to rejoining the rotation. Hopefully the time spent rehabbing the glute strain will allow Harden to clear his head. Since joining the Rangers, he has posted a 3-3 record in 13 starts and is carrying a bloated 5.68 ERA. He has given up 14 home runs on the year including seven in his last three starts. Fantasy owners should be leery of a healthy Harden and should look elsewhere now that he is injured.

Daisuke Matsuzaka - Dice-K was a surprise scratch for Boston on Saturday and was placed on the disabled list shortly thereafter with forearm stiffness in his throwing arm. He began feeling tightness in his right forearm while preparing to face the Phillies and while he stated he could have pitched through the pain, the Red Sox elected to err on the side of caution. Like with Harden and Billingsley, the medical staff was afraid the minor injury would lead to changes in his throwing mechanics and alter his natural body mechanics. Based on Matsuzaka’s history it is a wise decision considering he is finally getting over back and neck issues and has had a previous shoulder problem. After several days of rest he has already shown signs of improvement and is expected to play catch in the near future. Minor leaguer Felix Doubront will take Dice K’s spot in the rotation.


Erick Aybar - The Angels will be without their shortstop for an undisclosed amount of time after a MRI revealed meniscus damage in his left knee. The injury occurred after Casey McGehee he collided with Aybar as he slid into second base.

The menisci are two cartilaginous discs designed to withstand a high degree of stress while maintaining their elasticity. Each disc is located on an articulating surface of the lower leg bone known as the tibia. When the knee is violently twisted, the menisci are susceptible to injury and are easily pinched between bony protuberances located on the femur. While the Angels have yet to discuss surgery, it remains a possibility primarily because of the makeup of the discs. Each meniscus is broken into zones based on the amount of blood flow that is supplied to the area. The outer edges of the meniscus are considered the red-red zone and are well supplied with blood. As you move inward the amount of available blood distributed by the body decreases until the avascular white-white zone is reached. Blood does not circulate to this area, negatively affecting the body’s natural ability to heal. If the damage occurred outside of the red-red zone the likelihood that surgery can be avoided is slim. Expect the Angels to get further information and see how Aybar responds to treatment before making the final decision.

If surgery is required the Halos will likely be without his services until after the All-Star break. Earlier this season Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero suffered a tear to his meniscus in his right knee that required surgery and kept him on the shelf for two months. While he would not subject his knees to the constant pressure that comes with playing catcher like Montero, Aybar would need full range of motion to adequately man short and bat effectively.


Nelson Cruz - After suffering a setback in his rehab for a nagging hamstring strain, Cruz recently performed multiple baseball-related activities pain-free and could begin a rehab assignment in the next several days. Cruz has been a big-time producer when healthy, slugging 10 home runs and driving in 34 RBI in just 107 at-bats. However a balky hamstring has sent him to the DL twice this season and limited him to just 32 games. The Rangers will not rush him back and want to make sure he is 100 percent before he returns. With teammates Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero both knocking the cover off the ball, it shouldn’t take long for Cruz’s production to return.