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Diamond Cuts: Ribs and Wrists

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.

Brett Lawrie and Eric Young Jr.

The muscles surrounding the rib cage have gained notoriety over the last two seasons as more and more players are diagnosed with specific injuries. That isn't to say the injury is new, but the precise muscle strained is now easier to identify and catch all terms like rib strain (impossible for bone to be strained) are no longer thrown out to the public. Fantasy owners have become quite familiar with the oblique muscles as numerous impact players have strained these abdominal muscles. Toronto's Brett Lawrie is the most recent player currently attempting to comeback from a right oblique strain suffered in early August. Unfortunately the third baseman suffered a setback during his rehab. He continues to battle soreness and the team elected to shut him down for the majority of last week. The news gets worse as the Blue Jays are reportedly contemplating shutting him down for the remainder of the season. Lawrie is a young star and will be a big part of Toronto's future and I wouldn't be shocked if they take the conservative approach and prematurely end his season.  Fantasy owners preparing for the playoffs should start considering a contingency plan.

The Rockies are dealing with a rib injury to one of their young stars, as an intercostal strain ended Eric Young Jr.'s recent hot streak. Since the calendar switched to August, Young has been a monster, hitting .406 with 13 runs, three homers, and three stolen bases. However in a recent game against the Marlins, Young lasted just an inning after straining the left side of his rib cage. The injury was initially considered minor and Young expected to be back in a day or two. However testing on the area revealed the strain and the Rockies have placed him on the 15-day disabled list.

The intercostal muscles are located between each individual rib and are used to raise and drop the rib cage during breathing. For a better frame of reference, the meat you eat when order a plate of short ribs is the intercostal muscles. The injury acts similarly to an oblique strain, limiting trunk rotation. However intercostal strains generally have a quicker recovery rate. Milwaukee's Ryan Braun suffered an intercostal strain late in spring training during the 2011 season but was in the Opening Day lineup just two weeks later. Young may be available during the final weeks of the season, but given Michael Cuddyer's recent struggles with an oblique strain, the Rockies may play it safe and look to next year. Stash Young on the DL if you can but look elsewhere if you are in desperate need of production.

The Yankees Pitching Staff

The Yankees have struggled recently dropping four of their last five games. Part of the issues stem from a physically roughed up starting pitching staff. The problems started when veteran Andy Pettitte suffered a setback in his recovery from a fractured ankle. Pettitte was originally injured in June when a comebacker broke his fibula. He was progressing nicely but the setback forced him back to limited weight-bearing exercises. He recently threw 20 pitches from flat ground but has yet to pitch from a mound. While manager Joe Girardi hopes on getting Pettitte several starts before the end of the regular season, it sounds he wont be much of a fantasy factor for the remainder of the year.

Ivan Nova recently joined Pettitte on the DL after developing inflammation in his rotator cuff. Generally inflammation is the result of overuse but can be indicative of something more severe like impingement syndrome or even a tear. Fortunately the Yankees do not think that is the issue with Nova and plan on handling the situation in similar fashion to the recently activated CC Sabathia. The Yankees ace missed two weeks with elbow inflammation but made a successful return in a win over Friday, striking out nine and surrendering a lone run in 7+ innings of work. New York is counting on the cautious approach working with Nova too and hope rest and medication will solve the problem and lead to a minimal DL stint. David Phelps will join the Yankees rotation to replace Nova, starting Monday against the Blue Jays,

Jose Bautista

The Toronto lineup Phelps will face in New York will not only be missing Lawrie but also Bautista, who has returned to the DL after aggravating his troublesome wrist injury. Bautista missed five and half weeks after suffering the injury during an at-bat in mid-July. His comeback lasted less than two games after he began feeling discomfort in the area during Saturday's loss to the Orioles. He will now visit with a hand specialist to determine a plan for the remainder of the season. Clearly there is an underlying problem with the slugger's wrist and a power hitter with a lingering wrist is largely ineffective. With the Jays dead last in the AL East I suspect we won't see Bautista again this year.

David Freese

The Cardinals are dealing with a wrist injury to a key contributor as well after a pitch hit Freese in his left wrist Friday. Initial x-rays were negative but unfortunately x-rays are not always the most reliable form of imaging when evaluating the bones of the wrist. Often fractures to the tiny bones of the wrist go undetected on the initial x-rays and go undiagnosed until weeks later when signs of healing can be seen. Freese will now undergo a CAT scan, which will provide a more complex and detailed image of the injured area and allow for a proper diagnosis. Hopefully the injury is just a minor contusion and Freese will be able to avoid missing a significant amount of time. Freese has a history of wrist and hand problems, missing 51 games in 2011 after needing surgery to repair a broken metacarpal bone.

Albert Pujols

The Angels continue to play without the services of Pujols, who hasn't played since injuring his right calf earlier in the week. Los Angeles does have a day off Monday and hope the additional day of rest will help the former MVP recover and allow him to return without the fear of a setback. Pujols has been available to pinch-hit but the team fears running the bases would be too much on the still ailing muscle. All reports suggest the injury is minor but, if Pujols isn't back in the lineup by Tuesday, I think a DL trip seems very plausible.