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Diamond Cuts: Unchartered Territory

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.

Injuries are an inherent part of fantasy baseball and if your roster is already littered with red marks and disabled list tags, now is not the time to panic. A majority of these injuries occurred in the early portions of the spring and all DL moves have been made retroactively. Some of these injured players will miss just a handful of games and due to breaks in the schedule some pitchers won't even miss a start.

Chad Billingsley

The Dodgers pitcher will start the season on the 15-day DL but not for what many anticipated. Billingsley missed the end of last season after suffering a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). He rehabbed throughout the offseason and entered Spring Training without an issue. A minor groin strain popped up in early March followed by a finger injury. Specifically, Billingsley suffered a bruised right index finger while attempting a bunt. The resulting pain and fingernail damage have limited his ability to deliver his curveball. Fortunately the injury has quickly resolved and shouldn't be a major concern moving forward. The DL designation was retroactive to March 22 and should allow Billingsley to be back as early as April 7.

David Freese

A lower back strain has limited Freese for a majority of the spring and forced the Cardinals to place him on the DL to start the season. Freese was initially injured on March 4 when he fell into the stands, bruising his tailbone. Pain and swelling have persisted, limiting his ability to swing a bat.  A recent MRI revealed more inflammation in his lower back, leading him to receive an anti-inflammatory injection. He has been able to perform some conditioning exercises and hopes to get into the batting cage soon. The next step would be a simulated game or a minor league assignment but that appears to be a few days away. He isn't eligible to come off the DL until April 8 but don't be surprised if this lingers a bit longer.

Matt Garza

The Cubs will likely be without their ace for an extended period of time as Garza's upper back strain continues to slowly heal. Garza strained his latissimus dorsi, a muscle that runs along the thoracic spine before inserting into a small groove in the upper arm bone, the humerus.  It is responsible for multiple shoulder movements including extension (raising your arm), internal rotation (rotation toward the body), and horizontal abduction (bringing the arm away from the body). The muscle also plays a role in side-to-side bending and backward bending in the lower back.  Several players including Kerry Wood and Huston Street have managed this type of injury suggesting Garza's long-term status is not at risk. However he appears to be a tad behind on his recovery and shouldn't be expected back until early May.

Curtis Granderson

The Yankees have been beset with injuries and while the long-term situations of Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Michael Pineda appear cloudy at best, the recovery of Granderson is progressing nicely. He has not been cleared for baseball activities but his fractured forearm is improved and the pain has diminished. Granderson suffered the injury in late February when he was hit by a pitch. This type of injury is fairly straightforward. The bone broke. It didn't move or displace. Surgery wasn't required and all Granderson needs is time. Bone tissue heals well and can be restored to its original strength. As long as he continues to progress through rehab Granderson should be as soon as mid-May.

Brett Lawrie

Lawrie's recovery from a strained intercostal muscle has made significant improvement and the Blue Jays could be at full strength just days into the regular season. Lawrie sustained the injury during the first round of the World Baseball Classic but has already returned to baseball-related activities. The injury is different that last season's oblique strain that cost Lawrie over a month. As previously discussed with New York's David Wright, an intercostal strain is more problematic while batting. Fortunately Lawrie has sped through recovery without any setbacks and he could be back as soon as next week.

Pablo Sandoval

Kung Fu Panda continues to experience discomfort in his right elbow as he deals with ulnar neuritis. Sandoval has not been placed on the disabled list despite a reported improvement over the weekend and was slated to play on Opening Day. I detailed the injury itself in last week's column and as I stated the issue primary concern remains the bone spur that is believed to be causing the nerve to become inflamed. Until that is directly addressed expect the elbow remain a concern. He may be able to play but scale back your expectations.

Johan Santana

The two-time Cy Young winner will once again miss an entire season due to injury after a recent MRI revealed a tear in the anterior portion of his shoulder capsule. The capsule is a structure comprised of connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons that surround the entire shoulder joint. It begins from within the cartilage disc known as the labrum and has various attachment sites on the shaft of the upper arm bone known as the humerus. The capsule secures the glenohumeral joint, the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder, preventing instability during pitching. It also helps in dispersing the substantial amount of stress put on the rotator cuff muscles.

In 2010, Santana underwent a capsulorrhaphy to repair the first tear. In the procedure, a surgical anchor is used to restabilize the shoulder ligaments and tendons. A second method can be used in which heat helps shrink the capsule but Santana did not undergo this procedure. Either way the repaired joint capsule becomes tighter and more stable. The procedure has been performed on several notable pitchers including Rich Harden, Chien-Ming Wang, and Dallas Braden. However none of these pitchers have undergone the procedure twice. Santana insists he will attempt another comeback following Tuesday's surgery but with two capsulorrhaphy in 31 months, it is hard to imagine he will ever be the dominant pitcher he once was.