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Diamond Cuts: Braves In a Bind

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.

Matt Cain

The Giants pitcher has struggled this year and now his rocky season continues with the first DL stint of his career. Cain was placed on the 15-day disabled list after taking a Gaby Sanchez comebacker off the right forearm. X-rays were negative but the resulting contusion was significant enough to warrant the two-week sabbatical.

The forearm is vulnerable to injury as there is often little fat in the area to provide protection. Instead the muscles and bones are left exposed increasing the chances of contusions and breaks. The deciding factor on if Cain can return in the minimal amount of time will depend on which of these tissues is contused. If the damage is isolated to the muscles in his arm, it's simply a matter of controlling the associated inflammation while waiting for the soft tissue to heal. Various modalities like ultrasound and electrical stimulation can aid in this process and will likely be used by the San Francisco medical staff. A soft tissue contusion can reasonably heal in two weeks and Cain should be ready when eligible.

However if the contusion has occurred to the bone, he would need additional time to recover. Bone contusions are actually tiny cracks in the outer layer of bone known as the periosteum. Any damage here is treated just like a true break and new bony tissue must be created to fill in the resulting gaps. Even with modalities, this process takes longer than the healing process of soft tissue and makes a quick recovery more difficult.

Look to see when Cain resumes throwing as a good indicator of the severity of the injury. The sooner he's back on the mound the better. While the Giants may look to protect their $112 million investment, he should get a chance to build on his second-half numbers.

Jason Heyward

Heyward endured a scary injury Wednesday when he took a fastball off the right side of his face. As expected the results weren't pretty and the Braves outfielder underwent surgery to repair a fractured jaw. Two surgical plates were needed to repair the damage and he is expected to miss at least four weeks.

Heyward will spend the next few weeks controlling his symptoms, mainly pain, before being reevaluated. He did not have to have his jaw wired shut, meaning he can eat solid foods when able. That should allow him to minimize any associated weight loss and he should be able to maintain his conditioning as long as there are no concussion or head injury related symptoms.

A late September return has not been ruled out but considering the severity of his injury expecting him back in four to six weeks is a bit unreasonable. The Braves have built a sizeable lead in the division and will be able to handle him extremely conservatively. Fantasy owners should expect Heyward to have minimal value for the remainder of the season and will want to look elsewhere.

Brandon Beachy

If the injury to Heyward wasn't bad enough, Atlanta's injury woes carried over to their pitching staff. Beachy is scheduled to meet with Dr. James Andrews Monday after his surgically repaired right elbow became inflamed following his last start. Dr. Andrews is the surgeon who performed Beachy's Tommy John procedure in June of 2012 and will be consulted on this latest setback. The Braves have already placed the young pitcher on the DL and fantasy owners should expect an update sometime soon. However given his injury history it seems likely we have seen the last of Beachy this season.

Matt Kemp

The Dodgers outfielder continues to progress but his biggest hurdle remains. Kemp will attempt to run the bases within the next few days to determine if he's ready to begin a minor league assignment. He is reportedly pain-free but making hard lateral cuts will be a good indicator if the sprained ligaments are completely healed. Manager Don Mattingly has already admitted he will ease Kemp back into his rotation, meaning he's still a week or two away from being an everyday contributor.

Jose Bautista

The Blue Jays will be without the services of Bautista after he was sent to the DL after irritating a lingering hip injury. Bautista initially injured the hip several weeks ago but irritated the area during the first game of a double-header. X-rays on the area were negative and the team is calling it a bone bruise. As previously mentioned with Cain, bone contusions can be tricky to manage and even more so with hip contusions as superficial nerves are often involved and increase the associated pain. He will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Check Swings

Clay Buchholz: The Red Sox starter didn't look particularly sharp in his first rehab start, throwing 38 first-inning pitches before leaving the game. However getting him back on the mound against live batters is a big step forward and he could rejoin the big league club after an additional start or two. Allow him time to find a comfortable groove but he could return just in time for the fantasy postseason.

Tony Cingrani: The Reds placed Cingrani on the 15-day DL with a minor back strain. The injury occurred in Tuesday's start over Arizona and the rookie was unable to complete a bullpen session three days later. With the Reds already monitoring his total innings pitched, roster him at your own risk.

Carlos Gonzalez: CarGo has begun swinging a fungo bat as he attempts to return from a sprained middle finger. He still needs to get some reps in with a real bat but his return is on the horizon. The Rockies could use him back in the lineup as Troy Tulowitzki's troublesome rib issues are once again bothering him.

Bryce Harper: A bruised triceps and a sore foot didn't stop Harper from launching his 18th homerun. He's been nicked up all season but remains a must play.

Joe Mauer: The All-Star catcher is currently on the 7-day concussion DL after experiencing dizziness during batting practice. Mauer had taken several foul tips off the facemask the night before and the Twins were quick to react. His activities remain limited and he was not allowed to attempt any baseball-related activities over the weekend. He will be reevaluated Tuesday, meaning he is unlikely to be activated when first eligible.

Leonys Martin: The speedy outfielder avoided serious injury after turning his ankle in a collision with teammate David Murphy. He plans on playing Monday but it would be smart to anticipate a small dip in speed.