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Diamond Cuts: Dat Dude's Heel

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 Bautista and Shane Victorino

Two players with contrasting playing styles are both managing hamstring injuries. Having a firm grasp on the healing process is the key to handling these types of injuries and could provide insight into their return. When a muscle is significantly strained the individual muscle or tendon fibers of the injured muscle tear. The initial response of the body's natural healing process involves cleaning the area and creating an environment conducive to repair. Once the stage has been set, specialized cells begin producing various components that allow for the regeneration of new muscle fibers. However the newly formed scar tissue is laid down randomly and is not immediately at full strength. This haphazard arrangement makes the healing area vulnerable to re-injury and aggravation. Athletic trainers and other medical professionals can combat this problem by specifically loading the affected muscle during rehabilitation. Doing so allows the developing tissue to align in a stronger, more efficient pattern.

However, even with the best medical care, the freshly laid scar tissue remains susceptible to injury. Though the athlete may feel better, the strength of the scar tissue is less than 100 percent. If the affected individual attempts to return too soon, the developing tissue can tear and the entire process must start over. This is why you see so many players suffer multiple hamstring issues in a short period of time.

The hamstring muscle group is a key component in explosive movement, particularly during acceleration, and a strain of the area tends to be more problematic for speedsters like Victorino. Factor in the Flyin' Hawaiian's extensive history of hamstring problems and it becomes even clearer why his recovery has taken a considerable amount of time. Although he has begun a rehab assignment, stiffness in the area lingers. This is a good indicator that the healing process is not yet finished. Victorino has also been bothered by some lower back stiffness, pain often linked to a tight and stiff hamstring. All things considered I don't think he's currently worth a speculative pick up. He will need more time on his rehab assignment and the risk of re-injury remains high.

For a player not known for his speed and ability on the basepaths, Bautista may be in for a quicker turnaround. Bautista's injury is also being considered mild, suggesting it is a Grade I strain. In these types of injuries, the damage is limited to microtearing of the microfibers and can feasibly heal in a shorter amount of time. Furthermore Bautista doesn't have a lengthy history of hamstring problems and he should be able to return with proper management. The Blue Jays feel a trip to the disabled list will not be warranted and their slugger can return following several days off. Fantasy owners should remain patient and hope he's back by the weekend.

Brandon Phillips

The Reds second baseman is having a quiet year and is now dealing with a bruised right heel. The injury occurred when Phillips hit the area with his bat during the backswing of a hack. The heel is actually the bone known as the calcaneus and serves as the attachment site for the Achilles tendon. Because the heel is directly involved with weight bearing, the bottom of the bone is protected by a fat pad. However the pad would be unable to disperse the forces of a bat if the blow came from the side. Fortunately the bone does not appear to be broken but it was painful enough to keep him out of the lineup on Monday against the Cubs. Look for the Reds to do a more detailed evaluation soon and provide more clarity on the severity of the injury.

Check Swings

Brandon Belt and Bryce Harper: Both Belt and Harper are making headway in their respective returns from thumb injuries. Belt's fractured thumb is mending nicely and he was recently able to participate in batting practice. The Giants first baseman hopes to begin a rehab assignment by the end of the week. Harper has a bit of a head start on Belt as he has already participated in a minor league game. Harper played three innings for High-A Potomac on Monday, batting and playing in the field. Both players are targeting an early July return and now may be the last opportunity to trade or add them at a discounted rate.

Cliff Lee: Another week and another step in the right direction for the former Cy Young winner. Lee is set to throw a bullpen session Tuesday and could be in line to toss a simulated game by the weekend. Lee has missed time managing a flexor tendon strain and will likely need several rehab starts before he can return to the Phillies.

Brett Lawrie: Lawrie will miss the next three to six weeks with a broken right index finger. The Toronto third baseman was struck by an inside pitch from Johnny Cueto during Sunday's game against the Reds. It appears he will avoid surgery so he simply must wait for the bone to mend. The Blue Jays medical team will take the necessary steps to insure the bone properly aligns and joins together during the healing process. Given the injury and how it could potentially affect his grip, I'm betting he's out on the longer end of the established timeline.

Michael Wacha: The Cardinals right-hander was placed on the DL after it was discovered he has a stress injury in his pitching shoulder. I've seen the injury described as a stress reaction and a stress fracture. A stress reaction is a precursor to a stress fracture but the treatment for both injuries is the same. Wacha will cease throwing and hope the injury resolves itself with rest and rehab. Unfortunately the precedent for this type of injury isn't comforting. Brandon McCarthy suffered a stress fracture in his scapula during the 2009 season and was sidelined for several months. The injury resurfaced a year later and kept him out for all of 2010.

Jaime Garcia: Wacha's was joined on the DL by Garcia who aggravated his throwing shoulder. Garcia has felt discomfort in the joint for some time now and has not been the same since undergoing a labrum repair in May of 2013.