The biggest injury news of the last week was obviously Alex Cobb getting hit by the Eric Hosmer liner on Saturday. Thankfully, it looks like Cobb escaped serious, Brandon McCarthy-esque damage, pending his recovery from concussion.
There's not much fantasy analysis of the situation, though. Cobb is a good pitcher, not one you'd drop for a 15-day DL stint, let alone a possible 7-dayer. Sit tight, activate him upon his return. As a Hosmer owner (and unashamed worshiper), I'm a little frustrated that he hits the ball as hard as he's hit it all year and it ends up as a grounder to the catcher, but that's hardly important compared to Cobb's health.
No, while Cobb's injury was the biggest injury news of the week, it wasn't the most important one. Likely the most important news, now and going forward, was the return of Ian Kinsler to the Rangers' lineup Saturday. Kinsler, out longer than expected with a ribcage injury, will slide right back into his second-base slot, and right back into his fantasy owners' lineups. But the noteworthy part of the transaction, and the thing many of us care so much about, is that Jurickson Profar, and not Leury Garcia, was kept around as the team's utility guy upon Kinsler's return.
Profar's start hasn't been anything to write home about - a .718 OPS, no steals versus two caught stealings. Not a disaster, but not Troutian or Harperesque or Machadoish. But the reason for keeping him in the bigs is far more "Holy crap Leury Garcia is awful" than "Holy crap Jurickson Profar is great." Through 57 plate appearances, Garcia hit .192/.236/.231, providing almost no value in any way. For a team that, despite their recent struggles, expects to compete all year, Garcia was simply untenable. Profar might not have been great so far, but they had to have someone.
All that said, if Profar is going to stay up, he pretty much has to play. There's no way to give him full-time at bats - not with Elvis Andrus, Kinsler, and Adrian Beltre in the infield. But he started at third Sunday, giving Beltre a day without the glove. He's been working in the outfield as well. If he can get a start or two a week in the middle infield, a start or two a week between third and the outfield, defensive replacements at various positions, etc., etc... Look, I don't think Profar is going to provide super value in single-season leagues this year. He's not there yet, much of his value is in his glove and plate discipline, and he won't get enough playing time. But something pretty much has to give by 2014. Either he moves on, or Kinsler does, or someone switches position. If Profar spends the rest of 2013 as a super-utility guy and earns eligibility at three infield positions and the outfield? Woo-hoo, keeper guys.
Kinsler's return started what looks like a rush of big-name guys in the next few weeks. Jose Reyes went out on a rehab assignment for the Blue Jays last week, nearing his return from his ankle injury. If all goes well, he should be back by the end of the month. That will relegate Munenori Kawasaki to fun-guy-on-the-bench status, but he's a first-round pick in those fantasy leagues. Reyes, meanwhile, likely becomes the #1 fantasy shortstop, at least while Troy Tulowitzki is out.
Oh, yeah. That. Tulo went down the other day with a fractured rib, suffered diving for a ball. It looks like he'll be out at least a month or so, which earns him his final punch on his Trainer Preferred Customer card. Next Ace Bandage is free! In the meantime, Josh Rutledge was called back up from Triple-A to man shortstop in his stead. Rutledge, after a hot start to his career last year, has done basically nothing with either the bat or glove. I'd rather go outside the Rockies for my Tulo replacement.
Oh, I was talking about guys returning. Mitch Moreland, another Ranger, is likely to start a rehab assignment today, eying a Friday return. With Chris McGuiness hitting like a poor man's Leury Garcia in Moreland's absence, both Rangers fans (me!) and Moreland owners are looking forward to that. Welcome, Mitch. Please hit like you were.
Carlos Ruiz went on a rehab assignment for the Phillies Saturday, also with a Friday return in mind. Outside the upper echelon, catcher has been a real pick-your-poison position so far this season, with a whole clump of guys failing to distinguish themselves from one another. Ruiz will likely slot himself in with that group, so odds are whoever you have is about the same. On the other hand, hey, if you like Chooch, give it a shot. Like I said, I don't think there's a lot of difference between, say, catchers #7 and 17.
Finally (and I mean that two ways, as his owners are shouting "finally!"), Aaron Hill has gone out on a rehab assignment of his own. I haven't seen a definitive timetable for his return from his broken hand, which did not heal properly. Accounts are that Hill is trying to play through the awkward healing, as surgery would likely end his season. But a rehab assignment is a step in the right direction.
Apparently not actually nearing his return is Brandon Beachy. After feeling tenderness in his repaired elbow in his last rehab start, an MRI showed no structural damage on Beachy, so it's possible this is only a minor setback. That said, he's been shut down for a short time at least. I said last week that we're assuming too much out of Tommy John guys, and I think this illustrates it yet again.
Likewise, David Price, who we thought would go on a rehab assignment Tuesday, has pushed those plans back. He refused to describe it as a setback, and he and the team are still hoping for an end-of-June/start-of-July return, but...well, that was information for you. I hope you enjoyed it.
After several days of "Maybe it'll work itself out," the Brewers succumbed and put Ryan Braun on the DL Friday, retroactive to Monday. Best conjecture is respite is the proper salve for this particular malady (I got a thesaurus), so this is another sit-tight situation.
In ouchy-Giants news, Pablo Sandoval went on the DL with a strained tendon in his foot. I will be a big boy and refrain from the "he's a big boy" jokes that everyone else in the world has made, and just say - Sandoval's proven his athleticism. Do I think he'll have a super-long career at his size? No. But for this year, for a 26-year-old Sandoval, I'm not worried. When he's back, he'll be himself.
One base lower, Sandoval's teammate Marco Scutaro is planning to try to play through the "mallet finger" of his pinky, even though doing so could, according to reports, likely result in a permanent finger deformity. That's just reason #655472 why I'm not a baseball player. I'd take a while off instead of dealing with people screaming at my weird hands forever. I'm a wuss.
The Pirates put A.J. Burnett on the DL Thursday, retroactive to last Sunday, with a calf tear. Early reports are that it's not a long-term injury, and the way Burnett has been pitching, you can't really dump him.
Finally, Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox scratched him from his scheduled start this Tuesday with a neck injury. He hasn't pitched since June 8, and now won't pitch for a few more. That means there's really no reason for them not to DL him, just to give him the time necessary to get all the way recovered. No, he's not on the DL yet. He'll be there. Just get yourself emotionally prepared.
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