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Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: It's Not Always Sunny In Philadelphia

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.

Ryan Howard and Kevin Youkilis

It seems like once a week a member of the Red Sox and Phillies succumbs to injury. This week is a double whammy as both teams will be without their All-Star first baseman as Howard and Youkilis are now on the disabled list.

For Philadelphia, a sprained left ankle has sent their slugger to the DL. Howard was initially injured while sliding into second base. He traveled with the team for their series with the Marlins but upon further evaluation the sprain appeared more severe than originally believed. The sprain is isolated to two of three ligaments, likely the anterior talofibular (ATF) ligament and the calcaneofibular (CF) ligament, located on the lateral or outside portion of the foot. These two ligaments are the most commonly sprained ligaments in an inversion sprain but determining how long Howard will be out gets trickier.

The recovery time for sprained ankles is dependent on multiple factors including previous injuries, weight, severity of damage, and age. For example Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton recently sprained his ankle and was back in action after missing two games. However, using Upton as a measuring stick for Howard is not a fair comparison.

For starters, Howard’s sprain appears more severe with the ligaments likely sustaining more damage. As the severity increases so does the pain and the associated symptoms, requiring more treatment and rest. Another factor working against Howard is his size. He is listed as 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, and while Howard is only an inch taller than Upton he outweighs the Tampa Bay outfielder by 70 pounds. His larger stature not only increases the likelihood of suffering a lateral ankle sprain but also means Howard’s ankle joint must bare more weight, requiring additional time to heal. The Phillies are optimistic Howard will return in the allotted two weeks, but admitted there is a chance he could be out longer. With the fantasy playoffs right around the corner, fantasy owners should cross their fingers that the NL-leader in RBI will be ready just in time for the stretch run.

In Boston, Youkilis becomes the latest player to suffer a thumb injury joining a Who’s Who’s list the includes Jason Heyward, Shin-Soo Choo, Chase Utley, Victor Martinez, and Aramis Ramirez. He suffered the injury during a second-inning at bat, jamming the thumb as he lined out to shortstop. Unlike Utley, Choo, Martinez, and Ramirez, who all suffered injuries to ligaments and bones, Youkilis has damaged a muscle in his thumb.

Located deep within the meaty portion of the thumb lies the adductor pollicus. This two-headed muscle is responsible for pulling the thumb toward the palm and is critical for completing a power grip. A recent MRI revealed that Youkilis not only suffered a tear to the adductor pollicus but also ruptured one of the heads of the muscle. The recovery time for such an injury is highly dependent on the location of the tear but those details have yet to be revealed. The Red Sox are seeking multiple opinions from various hand specialists and have yet to rule out season-ending surgery. While the team hopes 15 days on the disabled list will allow the area to improve enough for Youk to finish the season, it seems unlikely he will be available in what is a critical time for fantasy baseball. Youkilis owners should prep for the worse and begin looking for an adequate replacement. Both Howard and Youkilis owners may want to consider veteran Mike Lowell, who homered in his first at-bat while filling in.

Martin Prado

The Braves will be without their All-Star leadoff hitter after Prado was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured knuckle in his right pinkie. The second baseman suffered the injury as he slid into home plate, catching the digit in a hole. When the pinkie became stuck he suffered an avulsion fracture as a tendon in the finger pulled a small piece of bone away from the rest of the bone. Fortunately, the fracture has been classified as stable and will not require surgery.

The team has not placed Prado in a cast to allow him to properly ice the injury site. Furthermore the team’s hand specialist wants to reexamine the tendon in the pinkie after the initial swelling has subsided. The tendons of the pinkie form a system of pulleys that allow for multiple movements at the various joints of the digit. If a problem with the tendon exists, the function of the pinkie is directly affected making bending and gripping difficulty.

Prado has had difficulty gripping a bat but has spent time in the batting cage taking one-handed swings and hopes for a quick recovery. He is eligible to return August 15 and should return barring any complications. Omar Infante has assumed the leadoff spot and performed admirably in Prado’s absence, going 8-of-19 at the plate with two runs and a stolen base.

Carlos Santana

Cleveland’s rookie catcher suffered a “high-grade” lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprain in a scary incident on Monday. Santana left the field with his left leg in an air cast after his knee was violently hyperextended during a collision at the plate with Boston rookie Ryan Kalish. The prospect has been placed on the 15-day disabled list but miraculously avoided any fractures, cartilage damage, or nerve palsy. The LCL, which runs on the outer aspect of the knee joint, doesn’t make nearly as many headlines as the more well-known medial collateral ligament (MCL) or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) but is still a significant injury. The main reason for its scarcity is because the primary mechanism of injury required for an isolated LCL sprain rarely occurs. Fortunately, the LCL, like the MCL, is capable of healing without surgical intervention and is often treated with a conservative nonoperative approach. However, the Indians will continue to speak with specialists before making a final decision regarding on Santana. Owners in keeper leagues should stash Santana knowing the injury is not career threatening while those playing in non-keeper leagues should begin scouring the waiver wire for a new catcher.