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Diamond Cuts: Brett Gardner's Setback

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.

Chris Iannetta

The Angels will be without the catcher's services for six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured right wrist. Iannetta underwent the procedure Friday after medical imaging revealed a break resulting from stray pitch on May 2. Iannetta had the pisiform bone removed in the procedure. The pisiform is a small, pea-shaped bone, located at the base of the pinkie. It is situated near the hamate bone, the carpal bone Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval just had removed. The recovery is similar and the success rate for the surgery is high, meaning Iannetta should be able to return to play without any difficulties or limitations.

Bobby Wilson will get the first crack at playing behind the plate but he doesn't have the biggest bat and is only batting .233 with zero extra base hits. Hank Conger could ultimately be the answer if he can overcome an elbow sprain that has limited him at Triple-A. Conger has played well when healthy, hitting .357 with two home runs and .943 OPS.

Brett Gardner

The Yankees had hoped to have Gardner back in the lineup but a recent MRI revealed a significant setback on his ailing elbow. Gardner has been on the disabled list since mid-April dealing with a bone contusion and muscle strain in his right elbow. The bone bruise has successfully healed but the left fielder re-strained the muscle during his rehab assignment.

Re-injuring a strained muscle isn't uncommon. The healing process of muscle is divided into multiple phases that take time to complete. The final two phases, the repair and the remodeling phases, are key to insuring if and when an athlete should return to play. In the repair phase, scar tissue is produced and capillary growth is stimulated. This particular phase can take an extended period of time and is the phase doctors hope to accelerate when utilizing such treatments as ultrasound and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. In the remodeling phase, the scar tissue created becomes organized to insure muscle integrity and strength. While the area can be fortified and structured with the help of modalities like massage and joint mobilizations, the injury site remains susceptible to re-injury.

If the developed scar tissue is unable to withstand a muscle contraction or overpowers healthy muscle fibers, the entire process restarts and that appears where we are with Gardner. The team has elected to completely shut him down for 10 days and expect him to be out for two to three weeks. I suspect the Yankees will play it extremely cautious with Gardner moving forward and his return will be closer to the end of the predicted recovery window.

Angels Bullpen

Scott Downs appears to have avoided serious injury earlier in the week after making an awkward step while avoiding a comebacker. A MRI taken revealed all the major knee ligaments were intact and the team diagnosed the reliever with a bruised left knee. Downs was able to return Saturday, picking up a one out save in a win over the Rangers.

Downs' teammate LaTroy Hawkins was not as fortunate as he suffered a broken right pinkie in the same game. Hawkins suffered the injury after catching a line drive that resulted in a game-ending double play. The break is on his pitching hand and is expected to sideline the veteran reliever between six and eight weeks.

With Downs and Hawkins limited, the Angels will lean heavily on their younger relievers, Ernesto Frieri and Jordan Walden. Frieri is pitching particularly well, collecting nine strikeouts without surrendering a run in his last five appearances.

Mariano Rivera

If a torn ACL wasn't enough, the Yankees closer was hospitalized with a blood clot in his right calf. Blood clots are often a normal part of the aforementioned healing process as red blood cells, platelets, and a protein known as fibrin join together to help repair damaged tissue. Occasionally a mass known as a thrombus can develop in healthy areas, becoming extremely problematic and even life threatening.

The calf is a common area for thrombi to develop, particularly in the veins of the lower leg. Clots here can completely clog the flow of blood, similar to a cork in a bottle. If the clot becomes dislodged and moves to another area of the body, the individual can be at serious risk for a life-threatening event such as an embolism or stroke. Fortunately Rivera's clot was caught before this occurred and the veteran is currently taking blood-thinning medication.

Trauma and immobilization of the joint can contribute to a thrombus but the Yankees medical staff has yet to openly connect the clot to Rivera's knee injury. He will spend the next few weeks strengthening the musculature in his right leg to better prepare the area for his impending surgery. He will continue to take his medication and can do so up until one day before his ACL reconstruction. The setback was a scary but minor issue and Rivera should remain on track to return next season.

Josh Beckett

Beckett's much publicized decision to hit the links the day after he missed a start with stiffness in his latissimuss dorsi muscle caused an uproar amongst Boston fans. These fans have every right to be upset when you consider the biomechanics of a golf swing and the role the lat plays in completing that motion. Like pitching, a complete golf swing is broken down into various phases, the address, the backswing, downswing, and the follow through. The lat, the muscle that kept Beckett out of the lineup, is a key component of the downswing, generating major amounts of force to move the club head with maximal velocity. The lat also assists in a smooth and efficient swing, working with the abdominals to control torque at the midsection.

The choice to go golfing was not a smart move for a pitcher hurting enough to be skipped in the rotation. Unless Beckett was playing putt–putt, he not only utilized his lat muscle but put high amounts of stress on it. Clearly the rest did little to help as he surrendered seven earned runs in 2.1 innings of work in a loss to the Indians. Fantasy owners everywhere shouldn't be faulted if they want to move on from Beckett, especially when you couple his 2-4 record and a 5.97 ERA with his extremely poor decision-making skills.