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Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: Kershaw Surgery a Possibility

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.

Russell Martin

Major league baseball has always been filled with unusual and odd injuries. Reliever Joel Zumaya strained his wrist while rocking out to one of the Guitar Hero video games. Multiple players, including former Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa, have been hurt while sneezing, and post-game celebrations and tirades have claimed far too many individuals. Martin now joins this illustrious list after falling in the shower.

The incident occurred after Martin has spent time in a sauna. Exposure to a sauna causes an individual’s blood vessels to vasodilate or expand. As a result, athletes often utilize saunas to help treat and alleviate joint pain and improve mobility. The bathing technique can also be used to help treat pulmonary conditions like asthma and is an option for those with high blood pressure.

However, sauna bathing does have its risks. In addition to complications like dehydration or burns, the rapid increase or decrease in blood pressure can make a person feel light-headed and even cause fainting. That’s precisely what happened with Martin as he passed out in the cold shower that followed. He reportedly woke up with a sore head and left knee. His head appears to be a nonissue though the lingering soreness in the knee caused the Blue Jays to send Martin in for an MRI. The medical imaging failed to reveal any significant structural damage and he remains listed as day-to-day. He missed the team’s entire series with the Mariners with Josh Thole filling in behind the plate.

Martin is likely to return this week though the injury should force fantasy owners to evaluate his overall worth. He’s struggled offensively and is hitting just .228 with a .317 OBP. As a result, he’s become a fringe catcher in 12 teams leagues and may be worth dropping for a healthier option with more upside.

Clayton Kershaw

The three-time Cy Young winner’s setback following his first real attempts at pitching are unsettling. The Dodgers have ruled out Kershaw “indefinitely,” and surgery on the herniated disc in his lower back is suddenly a very realistic option. Los Angeles would most likely turn to a lumbar microdiscectomy to address the problem. In the procedure, a fragment of the disc or neighboring vertebrae is removed to relieve existing pressure on nearby nerves. If surgery were required, Kershaw would be staring at least an eight to 12 week recovery. This timeline would effectively end his season and make for a long offseason of rehab and treatment.

There are long-term implications here as well. The fact that surgery is even being considered is a good indicator that there is indeed nerve involvement with the injury. Nerve impingement can have a trickle down effect on the lower extremities requiring additional recovery time as the involved nerve slowly heals.

The Dodgers will exhaust all their options before sending Kershaw into the operating room, but his remaining fantasy outlook for this season is looking bleak.

Prince Fielder

Like Kershaw, Fielder is facing the possibility of season-ending back surgery. Fielder’s problem is a herniated disc in the cervical region of his spine and is complicated by his injury history. Two years ago, Fielder underwent a cervical fusion on the C5-C6 region of his neck. Now he’s managing a problem between the C4 and C5 discs, the area directly above the previously repaired area. Not only will this injury likely end Fielder’s season, but it could also easily become a career-threatening type issue. Texas will explore all avenues for their slugger, but how things are managed over the next few months will determine if and when Fielder returns to a big league diamond.

The Rangers will look to Jurickson Profar for help in the lineup, as prospect Joey Gallo doesn’t appear to be joining the big league club at the moment.

Check Swings

Michael Brantley: It’s getting harder and harder to justify using a fantasy roster spot on Brantley. He recently underwent an ultrasound-guided hydrodissection to break up scar tissue in his surgically repaired shoulder. His labrum appears intact but he continues to deal with biceps tendinitis in the area and opted for the hydrodissection to help speed up his recovery. The Indians anticipate he’ll return to his swinging program relatively soon though the odds of him being a productive part of the Cleveland lineup this season continue to drop with each passing day.

Craig Kimbrel: The Red Sox closer is advancing nicely through rehab following a meniscectomy in his left knee. The procedure was used to remove a small piece of damaged meniscus and is often accompanied by a four- to six-week recovery. He is now two weeks post-op and has shown positive signs in both “strength and coordination.” He has reported no lingering pain and has a realistic shot at returning ahead of schedule. The news is certainly encouraging especially with fellow reliever Koji Uehara recently receiving a PRP injection in his right pectoral.

Yasiel Puig: Puig could be looking at yet another trip to the DL for hamstring issues. After missing time earlier in the season with a strained left hamstring strain, Puig is now dealing with soreness and tightness in the opposite muscle group. If he does end up on the DL, it will be the second straight season that strains to both hamstrings have forced Puig out of action. The team attempted to address the problem in the offseason, but it’s clear it remains an issue. Fantasy owners would be smart to look elsewhere for the remainder of the season.

Mookie Betts: The Red Sox All-Star outfielder is currently sidelined with swelling in his right knee though medical images showed the knee to be structurally intact. The team hasn’t provided a diagnosis outside of soreness, so determining how long he will remain out is difficult. Manager John Farrell did express some optimism that a return Monday is possible though Betts is considered day-to-day for the moment. As a result, those in weekly formats would be wise to watch the lineups to see if he makes it back.