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Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: Headfirst Slide Hobbles Pollock

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 Harvey

The Mets ace made headlines this past week after he missed time with what was initially called, “an unspecified medical issue.” It was later revealed that Harvey was suffering from blood clots in his bladder, a surprisingly common ailment.

It’s likely Harvey’s condition was first realized when he presented with hermaturia or blood in his urine. The presence of blood alerted Harvey and eventually the Mets medical team about an underlying condition causing the problem. Multiple issues, including a bladder infection, urinary tract infection or direct trauma, can lead to the presence of blood in the urine. Harvey indicated that the problem was the result of him holding in his urine too long and often. Extended periods of urine retention don’t directly cause blood to develop in the bladder but can contribute to one of the aforementioned infections, as the bacteria and other germs lay stagnant within the urinary tract. Dehydration may have also contributed to the problem, and insuring Harvey’s fluid levels are well monitored moving forward will be an important part of his recovery.

Fortunately, a round of antibiotics should help clear up the problem, and it shouldn’t have an impact on Harvey’s long-term performance. His subpar start on Opening Night could be chalked up to a quality opponent and an ill-timed break in his routine. Look for Harvey to get back on track once he completely moves past this minor setback.

A.J. Pollock

It seems like every season I warn about the perils of the headfirst slide but never this early in the season. Sadly, Pollock’s elbow injury sets the stage for me to discuss the situation before many teams have even taken the field for Opening Day.

Sliding into a base is an inherently dangerous action regardless of the individual’s approach. Performing a feet first slide attempt allows the runner to maintain a bit more control of their body and enables them to avoid contact with the base and an opposing player. However, this approach does make the individual susceptible to lower leg injuries if the foot or ankle gets caught on the ground or jammed into the base. Players like Jose Reyes and Miguel Cabrera have missed time following this mechanism of injury.

In a headfirst slide, the player forfeits control and makes himself susceptible to head or neck injuries. Additionally, fingers and hands are more likely to be injured from being stepped on or getting caught up on the base. Dee Gordon, Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig have miss extended time following thumb injuries sustained while sliding headfirst into a base.

While most players have a preferred method of attacking a base, the advantages of each approach remains debated. A study performed in 2002 found no significant difference between the feet-first and headfirst slides, despite player belief that leading with the head is faster. Even attempts to dissect the best method with physics have failed to adequately answer the question as to which slide is faster.

We may never know if Pollock’s ill-advised slide into home got him there quicker, but we do know a player with a previously broken elbow will once again miss extensive time with a fracture to the same area. Pollock will undergo surgery within the next few days to stabilize the injury site. The severity of the break and the necessary surgical hardware needed will go a long way to determining how long he’ll be sidelined. As mentioned, Pollock has broken this elbow before, missing the entire 2010 season following a diving catch. The previous injury sets a discouraging precedent, and fantasy owners would be smart to anticipate a lengthy absence here. Chris Owings is poised to shift to center field and could have value given his ever-growing list of eligible positions.

Check Swings

Michael Brantley: As expected, the Indians have placed Brantley on the 15-day disabled list to start the season. The 28-year-old outfielder experienced tightness in his surgically repaired shoulder, and the team opted to play things conservatively. The move will allow fantasy owners to stash Brantley and look for an adequate replacement to temporarily add to their rosters. His stint will be backdated, meaning he remains able to miss minimal time.

Yu Darvish: The Rangers ace continues to progress through his recovery from last year’s Tommy John surgery. The designation is part of his return to play protocol and he’s expected back by mid-May. The early reports on his health and control during multiple bullpen sessions have been encouraging, and he remains a relevant fantasy option.

Andre Ethier: The Dodgers outfielder has been placed on the 15-day DL, though a move to the 60-day DL seems inevitable. Ethier suffered a broken right tibia after fouling a ball off of his shin. Surgery won’t be necessary though he isn’t expected to return to action until June.

Evan Gattis: The hard-hitting Gattis continues to work his way back from offseason sports hernia surgery. A sports hernia often develops when continual repetitive forces normally directed through the midsection are rerouted into the groin and abdominal muscles. The new stress leads to micro-tears in the muscle that leaves the abdominal wall and inguinal canal damaged and weakened. As a result, a hernia can develop, though occasionally a true protrusion won’t be present. Surgery repairs the damaged tissue and steps often are taken to reinforce the area as well. The success rate for the procedure is high, and Gattis should be good moving forward. Look for him to be back in mid to late April.

Mike Trout: Everyone eventually gets sick or ill, even 24-year-old baseball phenoms. Trout was held out of activity for two days while recovering from a stomach virus. The episode left him a few pounds lighter though he’s expected to take his normal spot in the Opening Day lineup Monday against the Cubs. Trout should be started as usual and remains a frontrunner for the American League MVP trophy.