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Diamond Cuts: Progress, Finally

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.

Andrew Bailey
Bailey had his first outing in a Boston jersey Tuesday, pitching a third of an inning in a loss to the Orioles. He walked one batter and struck out another after losing nearly a year to forearm tightness while with Oakland and thumb surgery earlier this season. He has since made two more appearances, giving up one hit and striking out two more. Bailey's surgery was needed to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the digit suffered in spring training. Bailey has progressed well in his rehab, focusing on range of motion and grip strength to insure he can deliver his array of pitches with both velocity and accuracy. His rehab assignment has gone well and appears to be pitching unencumbered.
The Red Sox sit in an unfamiliar spot, 6.5 games out of the wild card spot and fourth in the division looking up at Yankees, Rays, and, yes, the Orioles. As the team begins to think about the future and perform an evaluation of their assets, Bailey could return to his closer role and be a sneaky source of saves down the stretch. Scoop him up if you are in desperate need of relief help.
Melky Cabrera
In a surprising and disappointing twist, Cabrera's amazing season has ended with a 50 game suspension after the San Francisco outfielder tested positive for testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone created by the body for several different functions including the maturity of sex organs and the development of various sexual characteristics. However testosterone becomes important to athletes because of its anabolic effects on the body. Testosterone promotes protein synthesis and tissue development effecting muscle mass, strength, and the rate of healing and growth for both muscles and bone.
Athletes illegally utilize synthetic testosterone to gain an edge in strength development and in order to return quicker from injury. Cabrera's failed drug test came up positive for unnatural levels of testosterone indicating the player once perceived as a pudgy underachiever clearly fueled his All-Star season with performance-enhancing drugs. In his statement Cabrera admitted making a bad decision and did not try to hide behind excuses, but the apology will do little to comfort Giants fans and fantasy owners who must continue their seasons without his bat in the lineup. Cabrera's long-term value also remains in limbo, as he will enter free agency with several games remaining on his suspension and plenty of questions surrounding his ability.
Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista
The big bats for the Blue Jays are nicked up and it starts with Encarnacion, who is dealing with multiple bumps and bruises. The problems began several weeks ago when Encarnacion began experiencing soreness and pain in his heel. The Blue Jays eased his load by taking him off the field and starting him more frequently at DH. However they followed up that safe and logical decision with a peculiar one, electing to start Encarnacion in left field for just the second time in his career in a Wednesday matchup against the White Sox. Unfortunately the outing did not go smoothly as the starting infielder attempted to make a diving catch, injuring his left wrist and shoulder. The resulting pain and soreness carried over to Thursday and Encarnacion was a late scratch from the lineup. While he has since returned to the lineup, slugging a home run off Texas' Yu Darvish, this serves as the perfect example of the dangers of a team utilizing a player out of position.
The risk of injury is greater if a player is playing an unfamiliar position. The instincts that have been acquired from regular routine are diminished and the players and his body don't always react in a proper and safe way. Several significant injuries have occurred to players playing out of position, including Jose Canseco's infamous failed attempt to pitch that resulted in Tommy John surgery and Tsuyoshi Nishioka's fractured fibula. Luckily for Encarnacion his latest injuries appear minor but could have been avoided all together if Toronto would have just kept him in the infield. Fantasy owners desperate for multi-position eligibility may want to consider the increased risk before cheering for players like Encarnacion and Adrian Gonzalez to see more time out of position.

Toronto's other big bopper, Jose Bautista, is finally starting to show signs of progress in his quest to return from a wrist injury. He has begun swinging a bat and, after successfully hitting off a tee, took live batting practice over the weekend. Bautista is now headed to Florida where he will play a game in the Gulf Coast League before playing three games with Toronto's Class A team. Barring any setback, he is expected to return Friday for a three-game series against the Orioles. Fantasy owners will gladly welcome Bautista back for should anticipate a slight dip in power initially.

Michael Cuddyer

Cuddyer's return from an oblique strain lasted just three games and the Rockies are now set to place the veteran back on the DL after he aggravated the injury. He was in significant pain following the team's loss to the Marlins and admitted the injury felt worse than the one that kept him out for 11 games earlier this month. Given the nature of the injury and the Rockies' lowly place in the standings, it is likely his season is over.

Carl Crawford

The Boston outfielder continues to internally debate whether or not to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow. Tommy John would end his season but given him a head start on rehab and give him a chance at being ready for the start of the 2013 season. Because the demands placed on the elbow are not as high for position players as they are for pitchers, players like Crawford can return faster than pitchers. Pitchers generally return in 12 months but position players can bounce back in nearly half the time with some players being ready to return six months after the operation. However eight months is a more realistic timeline, meaning if he underwent the surgery within the next few weeks, Crawford could be ready by April. For fantasy purposes, Crawford remains a ticking time bomb and is an unreliable option moving forward. If you are in a non-keeper league consider dropping Crawford especially if there is a more suitable option on the waiver wire.