We only had a few days of action stateside and fantasy teams 'round the globe have already taken some hits. It can be tough to deal with injuries on your fantasy team and owners need to assess their options on whether to place a guy on your DL spot or cut him in the event the DL spot is already occupied by a better player. I'm hoping this column will help you guys in your lineup and roster decisions. Personally, this is my inaugural baseball column with Fake Teams even though I've posted nearly 150 for basketball and basketball columns, I hope you'll bear with me while I work out the kinks. I obviously can't get to all the injuries, but I'll try to cover all the ones worth your attention. Here we go:
Doug Fister was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained costochondral muscle. In other words, he pulled the muscle group that attaches his ribs to his breastbone. He could be out a couple months from this injury, but owners might want to wait for an MRI before making any hasty decisions. In his five September starts last year, Fister was a perfect 5-0 with a microscopic 0.53 ERA, so again, I'd sit tight until more news comes down. Duane Below is probably the best bet to take the rotation spot, with the possibility of Drew Smyly, Andrew Oliver and Jacob Turner as well.
Clayton Kershaw's start on Opening Day was cut short by the flu, but he had a bullpen session on Saturday and looks good to go. Owners would have to be scared of their own shadows to not start him against Pittsburgh and San Diego in a two-start week.
The rest of the Injury Report and plenty of notes from a busy Saturday after the jump:
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Scott Baker had an MRI on his pitching elbow that revealed no new damage to the flexor strain. He is expected to get a second opinion on the elbow, but there's a chance he can return this month. Baker got lit up in his last two starts with an ERA of 8.00 before the injury cut his season short. He's a decent player to stash though due to his 2.86 ERA before the aforementioned bump in the road.
Ryan Vogelsong (back strain) had a positive outing with the AAA Fresno club by tossing four shutting innings and striking out six. He is expected to come off the DL on April 15th. There's almost no chance he can repeat his pleasant surprise last year with a 2.71 ERA, but he's certainly worth owning until he proves us wrong.
Tim Stauffer had an MRI on his pitching elbow that revealed no structural damage. Specifically, he's dealing with soreness in one or more of his triceps brachii muscles and it isn't expected to keep him out much longer. He had 20 quality starts last season and is aided by the best home park in the majors. There are a lot worse players to stash on your DL for the next week.
Tim Hudson (back) had a rehab start on Saturday with Single-A Rome and his line was 3.0 IP, four hits, two runs (one earned), two walks and no strikeouts in the loss. The Atlanta starter not being able to K any hitters in Single-A isn't exactly a good sign. He had surgery in November for a herniated disk and will likely need a few more tuneups. There's nothing official, but expect him to return to the rotation in about a month.
Michael Pineda is going to be out until at least May with shoulder soreness. The former Mariner had his velocity dip in Spring Training and it eventually prompted the Yankees to give their new starter an MRI. While the MRI was negative, the Bronx Bombers opted to place him on the DL. Shoulder injuries are no joke to pitchers and his first season with the Yankees seems like it will be a turbulent one.
A.J. Burnett's eye is still expected to keep him out of the lineup for another week or two. He allowed one run in his 4.2 IP in a rehab start, so he's on the comeback trail. Keep an eye on him. No pun intended.
Starters with a long way to go
Chris Carpenter (neck), Brett Anderson (TJ surgery), Dallas Braden (shoulder) and Dice-K (TJ surgery)
Carlos Marmol is day-to-day with hurt pride after failing to retire any of the four hitters he faced on Saturday. Sorry, had to mix in a joke writing about all this bad news. Tip your waitresses, folks.
Drew Storen (elbow) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday with no problems and his next step is expected to be to throw to live hitters around Tax Day. There is no structural damage to his elbow and it's only inflammation that is keeping him from saving games for the Nationals. Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez have both saved games in his absence and that should continue to be the case. If you'd like to take a flier on either guy, I'd suggest Hen-Rod for his K potential.
Kyle Farnsworth (elbow) had an MRI and it revealed only a strain, so he is expected to miss just 4-to-6 weeks. The grizzled veteran has quite a few miles on the tires and one would think he isn't like to beat that timetable for something as serious as an injury to his throwing elbow. For what it's worth, Farnsworth has been durable for most of his career. The saves situation in the interim just got a bit messier with Fernando Rodney picking up the one-out save after Joel Peralta allowed a three-run dinger to Nick Swisher. If you're chasing saves, I'd still rather own Peralta, but Rodney should be owned in competitive leagues, too.
Andrew Bailey (thumb) had surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb on Monday. No, not that UCL. The UCL in the thumb is basically the part of your hand that connects your thumb to your palm on the index-finger side. He's expected to be out until the All-Star Game and Alfredo Aceves will take over for saves until he can return. Aceves needs to be owned in all leagues.
Grady Sizemore (back) was placed on the 60-day disabled list. Sizemore, who was once a first-round pick, should get some sort of memorial for his astonishing ability to get hurt. How about the 60-day Sizemore list?
Michael Morse is recovering from his strained right latissimus dorsi and is eligible to come off the DL on the 10th. He has already homered with the Double-A affiliate and the smart money is having him back in the next week. Owners in weekly leagues might want to exercise caution when setting their lineups on Monday though.
Carl Crawford (wrist) is expected to come back from his apparent chronic wrist injury. The injury should hinder his power in the Boston lineup, but chances are you didn't draft the $142-million man for his HR numbers. He should be back very soon and there's no way any of his owners will bench him once he is back for the Fenway Faithful.
B.J. Upton (back) collided with Desmond Jennings in the outfield on March 14th and even though he initially wasn't expected to hit the disabled list, he was placed on said list on April 4th. The speedy outfielder is scheduled to go on a rehab assignment in the coming days and should be back by the end of the month. Desmond Jennings will continue to patrol center field and a slew of guys will see additional at-bats with the position flexibility of Ben Zobrist.
Rick Ankiel (quadriceps) had already hit two bombs in his rehab stint and should return to the DC lineup in the near future. He'll probably platoon with Roger Bernadina and is only really an NL-only option.
Carlos Quentin (knee) is expected to hit off a tee on Sunday. He had his knee scoped last month and CQ has dealt with some knee woes in the past. He brings upside, but the thick air at Petco doesn't exactly bode well for his long-ball potential. He's nothing more than a DL stash right now.
The latest on Ryan Howard (Achilles) is that the Phillies are hoping that he can return at some point in May. Personally, I'm not buying it. Howard, a 260-pound man, is going to put a ton of force on his surgically-repaired Achilles and the Phillies would be wise to keep him out until at least June. What's more, If I owned Howard, I'd try to trade him once he has an official return date and has fantasy value.
Staying with the Phillies, Chase Utley (knee) gave his fantasy owners a scare a couple weeks ago when he called together an out-of-the-blue press conference. He just stated that he would start the season on the DL, so that was a bit weird. All that said, the All-Star 2B is dealing with deteriorating cartilage in his knee and owners shouldn't expect him back for quite some time. If that injury sounds familiar to you, Brandon Roy had a degenerative knee disease and it caused him to retire. However, these are not the same injuries and Chase should make it back at some point. Philly should handle him with kid gloves and owners will have to temper their expectations.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Andres Torres hit the DL on Opening Day with a strain of his calf. The NBA has been plagued by a record amount of calf injuries (unofficially) and Torres was the first to be taken from his club with the ailment. While there has been no report of an MRI on the calf, the Mets sent him to Port St. Lucie for a rehab with the High-A affiliate. He'll likely just need the 15 days and Captain Kirk Nieuwenhuis will play the eight spot on your score card. He had a great debut with two hits against the Braves on Saturday and Mets fan are excited to have the youngster with the club.
Brian Roberts (concussion) is currently with the club and is already taking part in baseball activities. He is one of the most injury-prone players in the league, but he's just a few seasons removed from a 30-steal, 16-homer, 110-run campaign in 2009. There are worse players to stash on your DL. Personally, I'm stashing him in two leagues.
Stephen Drew (ankle) had one of the most gruesome injuries of 2011 and the broken ankle caused him to start the season on the DL. The Diamondbacks have nice depth at SS with Willie Bloomquist, so they felt that moving him to the DL was the prudent move. Drew is a decent player to stash, but one would think he would have plenty of days off until he is fully back in the swing of things.
Larry Jones (knee surgery) is expected make his debut for the last season of his career in next week or so. While it's a great story and all, most fantasy owners are likely to have better luck by grabbing a player that can stay healthy and play every day, even in NL-only leagues. Oh, Larry is Chipper Jones for those that didn't know.
Anthony Rendon hurt his leg round third base in Saturday's game with High-A Potomac. There aren't many details to the injury besides that it is to his left ankle. He is likely to undergo an MRI to make sure he didn't tear anything, but it's unlikely that he broke bones in his ankle since the Nationals organization would have released an X-ray result (a test yields a diagnosis in minutes). The good news here is that it isn't an injury to his right ankle, which he broke and tore his ligaments in his college career. Oddly enough, these were actually two different injuries, so it's a big relief all things considered. Rendon is believed to be the second-best prospect for the Nationals behind some dude named Bryce Harper.
Quick hits from Saturday
Hector Santiago went down 123rd St. for the save (that's a 1-2-3 inning for the hip impaired). When he closed out the game, he gave the game ball to Robin Ventura, but Ventura gave it back to him. Santiago is a must-own closer right now.
Yoenis Cespedes smashed his third bomb of the year and raised his triple slash to .308/.400/1.077. He's not going to be sporting a 1.4077 OPS all year, but he's making an early bid for value pick of the year. He's also batting cleanup and from the looks of it, there's no way he'll be relinquishing that distinction.
Dee Gordon finally showed up on the scene with a 3-for-4 day that helped him accumulate two runs, the game-winning RBI and three steals. Gordon is a very good bet to lead the league in steals.
Lucas Duda absolutely hammered two balls in Citi Field. The first one probably wouldn't have gone out with the old fences, but it had enough juice to make it out in the 2012 version. His second dinger was of the no-doubt variety. Duda is a popular sleeper for a reason. John Madden might call him a big, big, strong, strong, man man.
Additionally, David Wright smoked a no-doubt solo HR that carried about 30 feet over the new fences. Wright only hit one opposite-field shot last year and he's already looking like he'll destroy his fourth-round ADP.
Chone Figgins went 3-for-5 in his second big game in a row. He is going to leadoff and might return to prominence, but of course owners shouldn't cut anything of value for a guy that hit just .188 last year.
Fernando Rodney got the save for the Rays with one pitch. Joel Peralta, his primary competition, gave up a three-run homer to Nick Swisher and took an obvious hit to make his bid for closer. If I could only have one, I'd rather have Peralta. Although Rodney should be owned in competitive leagues.
J.D. Martinez hit his first homer on Saturday night. Yes, it came against Jamie Moyer, but the 24-year-old left fielder is batting third and should be more than serviceable for owners that require more than four outfielders. He's only owned in 24 percent of ESPN leagues.
A couple mid-round NL starters, Madison Bumgardner and Mat Latos, both took in on the chin in ugly outings. I'd be much more concerned with Latos though.
On the AL side of things Josh Beckett and Dan Haren gave up a combined eight homers (five for Beckett) in their hideous debuts. Beckett owners should be very concerned with his velocity that was hovering around 92, but Haren should be fine for the most part.
Zack Cozart hit his first homer of the year. I think he's the best SS that is available in 50 percent of ESPN leagues. It's rough hitting in front of Joey Votto, right? Votto also homered, by the way.
Nothing is imminent yet, but I'd be on the lookout for Alexi Ogando unseating Joe Nathan as the closer. Ogando was dealing his whole Cactus League stint, had a 1-2-3 inning with three Ks on Friday and had a 1-2-3 inning on Saturday that required just seven pitches. Nathan gave up the winning run on an Alex Rios rocket bomb. Keep an eye on this one, guys.
Kendrys Morales went 4-for-4 on Saturday. He's not expected to play in every game, so his owners might want to consider selling high once he can accumulate some value. It's also worth noting that the struggles of Mark Trumbo at third could eventually hurt Morales' ABs.
Thanks for reading!
Here's Pick-N-Roll from Saturday for the basketball action: