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Diamond Cuts: The Return of Reyes

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.

Jose Reyes

The Jays have been one of the more snake bitten teams so far this season but there has been a recent bit of good news as it appears Reyes could return earlier than expected from his severe left ankle sprain. Reyes has been sidelined since April 12 after an awkward slide into second violently twisted his ankle.

The ligaments surrounding the joint were pushed past their yield point resulting in a deformation. The former All-Star has spent the last eight weeks rehabbing the ankle, first focusing on limiting the associated swelling before advancing to range of motion and strengthening exercises. The final phase of rehab concentrated on baseball-related activities and proprioception as well as kinesthesia to insure the ankle and supporting structures can react properly when the ankle is stressed while performing the motions required playing baseball. However no rehab exercise can simulate game action and returning to the diamond will tell us much more information about Reyes and his effectiveness moving forward.

The early reports have been positive as he was able to play two innings and get three at-bats in a simulated game Friday. He is now slated to begin a two week rehab assignment with Class-A Dunedin. Keep a close eye on Reyes' games played and whether or not he is able to play on consecutive days. I'll also be watching his productivity on the base path and on defense as both motions require lateral motion and will test the still recovering ankle. If Reyes continues to progress he could return in late June for a series against the Rays.

Troy Tulowitzki

I've previously written that Tulowitzki has straddled the line between injury prone and unlucky. Unfortunately another freak injury will do little to shake the perception that Tulo is made of glass. The Rockies shortstop will miss at least four weeks with a fractured rib sustained while diving for a ball. Rib fractures are painful and slow healing and often result require additional rehab to recover conditioning lost while resting the ailment. Unfortunately the shortstop position is a physically demanding position as well, increasing the likelihood that a four week return seems optimistic at best. Furthermore the recent track record for players returning from similar injuries, like Jacoby Ellsubury and Zack Greinke, does not bode well for a quick return. Six weeks seems more probable but even then I suspect Tulowitzki will need additional time to completely round into form.

A.J. Burnett

The Pirates will be without Burnett for the immediate future as Burnett is sporting a walking boot on his right leg after suffering a Grade I strain of his calf muscle. The injury reportedly occurred while the right-hander was completing a series of sprinting exercises during a workout. Burnett said the sensation was odd and felt similar to a cramp. The quotes are remarkably similar to those of closer Heath Bell when he too strained his calf while running during spring training for the 2011 season. Though he would never miss any official time, Bell needed a month of rest and rehab before appearing in a spring game.

The calf muscle complex, particularly the gastrocnemius, is an important part of pitching mechanics. The calf muscle of the rear leg, in Burnett's case his injured right calf, generates a high degree of lower leg force during the delivery phase. Any limitation of the calf could affect velocity and command making a complete recovery for Burnett a necessity if he wants to continue his productive season. A 15-day return is possible but it would be wiser to anticipate a longer lay off.

Check Swings

Brandon Beachy

Beachy's return from Tommy John surgery has been pushed back after he suffered a minor setback following his recent rehab outing. A MRI showed the UCL in his right elbow was intact but also revealed a buildup of fluid. He will be shut down until the inflammation and tenderness dissipates but no firm timetable was provided.

Ryan Braun

Braun was sent to the DL for the first time in his career with a lingering thumb injury. The team is describing the injury as an inflamed nerve and hope two weeks of limited and controlled activity will help. Nerve injuries can be tricky because you often have two issues to manage. The sensory pain associated with the injury can affect the individual as well as any weakness in the related muscle. Furthermore nerves are slow to heal suggesting a quick recovery is unlikely. Braun owners should consider his current absence a trial run should he end up with an extended suspension as the MLB continues to investigate his link to Biogenesis.

Alex Cobb

Cobb has been placed on the 7-day concussion list following a frightening play over the weekend. Cobb was drilled in the side of the head by an Eric Hosmer line-drive and was carted off the field. While he never lost consciousness, Cobb was taken to the hospital where a concussion was diagnosed. Sadly until proper headgear is developed these scary and violent types of injury remain in play.

Carlos Gonzalez

Gonzalez appears to have avoided serious injury after taking a foul ball off the left foot while standing in the on-deck circle. X-rays were negative and the injury was diagnosed as a foot contusion. Cargo looked fine over the weekend finishing 8-for-12 with two home runs in the three games following the incident.

Mark Teixeira

The Yankees slugger underwent a MRI after he continued to battle pain in his right wrist. The tests showed no additional damage but did reveal inflammation in the area. Looking at Tex's numbers it's easy to see the wrist is still an issue at the plate. He's batting .287 as righty but a horrid .086 as a left-handed hitter. The vast difference is easy to understand given complete and fluid motion of the right wrist is needed to finish a complete swing when batting left-handed. Tex's current situation reminds me of Jose Bautista last season when the Jays outfielder suffered multiple setbacks from a similar injury before finally undergoing surgery. The Yankees continue to take the conservative approach but it looks like Teixeira will remain hampered for an extended period of time.

Chase Utley

Utley has resumed swinging a bat and could begin a rehab assignment this week. Utley has been on the DL since late May with a strained right oblique. He could be back next week as long as he remains pain-free and is able to move well during his rehab stint.