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Diamond Cuts: Hamstrung

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.

Roy Halladay

The former Cy Young winner has struggled throughout this season but he hit rock bottom on Sunday, giving up nine earned runs against the Marlins in just two and a third innings. After the game he admitted he hasn't quite felt like himself physically and will now travel to Los Angeles to be evaluated by orthopedist Lewis Yocum. He is reportedly dealing with discomfort in his shoulder with Will Carroll of Bleacher Report reporting the pain is located in the posterior portion of the shoulder.

This specific location can make it difficult to predict what is exactly the problem so speculating at this point would be unwise. However looking at the facts there's plenty of indicators it is something major. Halladay missed a majority of last season with a latissimus dorsi strain and spent the offseason adjusting his workout routine to improve his core musculature. He also altered his mechanics in an attempt to minimize the stress put on and through the previously effected muscles.

Despite these best efforts, Halladay did not perform well in Spring Training continuing to show signs of a person dealing with some type of injury or weakness or perhaps the first real signs of age. As the regular season has progressed, the 35-year old right-hander's command has been erratic as indicated by his 4.46 walks per nine innings. His strength is down as his fastball is averaging 89.9 MPH while his formerly devastating cutter has also seemed to escape him.

The final analysis of Halladay's shoulder evaluation won't become available until midweek but Philadelphia seems poised to place him on the disabled list anyway. He's worth the stash for the time being but only if there's room on your DL. Fantasy owners willing to gamble on a return to form are taking a dangerous approach as all the evidence stacks up against the eight-time All-Star.

Albert Pujols

Halladay isn't the only aging player facing a nagging injury, as Pujols remains limited by chronic plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The plantar fascia is a dense group of connective tissue designed to support the bottom of the foot. However it can become strained and inflamed with repetitive activity or an isolated overstretch. Plantar fasciitis can be extremely painful and equally difficult to manage, with rest often the best course of treatment. Continued irritation at the injury site can lead to the development of a heel spur where the plantar fascia attaches to the calcaneus (heel bone). If a spur does develop, surgical debridement is often utilized to remove the problem and hopefully alleviate the associated symptoms.

For Pujols, the foot pain is most noticeable when he is running the bases. He appears a step slower and doesn't have a smooth stride while running. Furthermore, a painful right heel would also be an issue in the batter's box when he shifts his weight from the front leg to the back leg, decreasing the amount of force he is able to generate.

Despite the pain, Pujols remains committed to playing and will likely avoid the DL. Last year's move to the American League is playing in his favor now as he can minimize the amount of stress placed on the foot by assuming the designated hitter role. However expect him to see more days off and for his production to take hit, primarily his run totals and his power numbers.

Giancarlo Stanton and Hanley Ramirez

Two marquee names have been sent to the DL after suffering significant injuries to their hamstrings. Both Stanton and Ramirez suffered hamstring strains while running the bases, a classic mechanism of injury for a strain of this nature.

The hamstring is actually a muscle group comprised of three individual muscles that sit on the posterior aspect of the thigh. These muscles work in conjunction to flex or bend the knee while playing a vital role in running and acceleration. Together they slow the leg as it extends backwards as well as aiding in the beginning of hip motion from a standstill position. The hamstring is often strained when the strength of the anterior muscle group known as the quadriceps is greater than the strength of the hamstring. As an athlete attempts an explosive movement (like rounding the bases), the powerful contraction of the quad will overstretch and strain the muscles of the hamstring.

The severity of the muscle strain is dependent on the amount of damage that occurs to the muscle and its multiple fibers. A Grade I injury is given when damage occurs to the microfibers of the muscle but the athlete suffers little to no loss of function. A Grade II strain occurs when actual muscle fibers are damaged and is often referred to as a partial tear. A Grade III injury is the most severe and means the tear is complete, resulting in loss of stability and function. Stanton's injury has already been diagnosed as a Grade II strain and, given the early estimates on Ramirez, it appears he too suffered at least a Grade II injury.

Both are expected to miss at least a few weeks and it seems likely to drag out longer, particularly for Ramirez. Fast guys like Hanley who depend on their speed in both the field and on the base path are notorious for taking longer than expected to recover from this type of injury. Fantasy owners should hope that each player takes the proper amount of time to allow the injury to heal. A longer DL-stint now would improve their chances of making it through the remainder of the season unscathed.

Jason Motte

Motte was no longer able to delay the inevitable and is slated to undergo Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. He was hoping to avoid going under the knife but his attempts at a conservative treatment plan failed to pay off. He could be available by the start of next season but will likely begin the 2014 season on the DL as well. Edward Mujica will remain the Cardinals closer and has already collected eight saves on the season.