It always seems the best laid fantasy plans go to waste early in the season due to injury. It appears 2009 will be no different. Xavier Nady and Chris Carpenter were lost this week to injury for the foreseeable future, and in Nady’s case, potentially the entire season. On the positive side, a few significant players made their return Wednesday, and a couple of elite players are getting closer to rejoining their teams.
An MRI revealed a tear in Nady’s elbow and will likely cause him to miss the rest of the season. He’s seeing a doctor today to determine the best course of action, and Nady owners should be prepared for the worst. The biggest benefactor of playing time will be Nick Swisher, who is drawing early fantasy-MVP consideration. If Swisher is available in your league (as he is in 25% of Yahoo leagues), grab him immediately.
Carpenter has landed on the DL with a strained rib cage, and there is no timetable for his return. General manager Tony LaRussa expects Carpenter “to be out for a while.” It doesn’t sound good for a guy who looked like he was finally over the injury bug and returning to elite status. None of his potential replacements warrant fantasy consideration.
The World Baseball Classic claims another. Matsuzaka was an integral part in Japan winning their second consecutive WBC, but the cost of world domination is a fatigued throwing arm. The DL stint is actually a blessing in disguise for his fantasy owners, as Dice-K was hurting fantasy teams in his previous starts. Stash him on your DL and give him a start or two upon his return to prove he’s back at a high level before you let him sniff your starting lineup. Clay Buchholz, who looked like he made significant strides in his development this spring, could be back in Boston for a second chance. He makes for a great speculative add if you have a roster spot to burn.
After a huge rebound in 2008, Mora was a sneaky late-round pick for owners who couldn’t grab a top-tier 3B. A hamstring injury in the World Baseball Classic slowed him down and hasn’t shown any improvement thus far. The Orioles have placed him on the DL after hearing Mora say that it feels “like I have a baseball inside” his hamstring. I wouldn’t be surprised if he needs more than the minimum 15 days on the DL. Ty Wigginton has taken his place at 3B and would do a solid job filling in for your fantasy squad as well.
Chipper Jones, Jorge Cantu, and Evan Longoria
This trio of third basemen is day-to-day for various reasons. Jones’ thumb injury is expected to sideline him until Friday, although Chipper owners will be used to playing the day-to-day availability game. Cantu is suffering from a hand injury that shouldn’t keep him out of the lineup much longer. Expect to see him out there this weekend. Longoria isn’t suffering from injury but will be away from the team for personal reasons today. Expect him back on Friday.
ON THE WAY BACK
Mauer hasn’t suffered any recent setbacks while rehabbing his back. After running earlier in the week, Mauer is on schedule to join the GCL Braves for a rehab assignment and should make it back to Minnesota before the end of April. It remains to be seen how the injury and subsequent rehab will affect his numbers, so it might be prudent to start shopping him around as he nears a return, especially if you were lucky enough to snag a hot catcher to replace him.
Rodriguez is surprising everyone with the speed of his recovery and could beat even the most optimistic of timetables. Once thought to be out through May 15, a successful Monday workout accelerated his timetable to early May, meaning owners won’t be without their star slugger for much longer. If a window of opportunity existed to buy low on A-Rod, it appears to be quickly closing.
Webb is only expected to miss one more start after landing on the DL with a sore throwing shoulder, but Webb owners must be worried, as any ailment to a pitcher’s throwing arm is cause for concern. If this pain nags Webb throughout the season, we’ll likely see a dip in Webb’s normally-sparkling numbers. Max Scherzer has joined the big-league club and is a great add in the 26% of leagues where he’s available.
With Carlos Villanueva turning in back-to-back ugly outings, the Brew Crew must hope that Hoffman is on the fast track to recovery. He looked good in a Wednesday bullpen session and remains on track to return by the end of April. If a frustrated owner in your league has dropped Hoffman, snatch him up and expect to see him back within a few weeks.
John Lackey, Ervin Santana, and Kelvim Escobar
All three of these Angels pitchers are on target for an early May return. Escobar has recently suffered some discomfort in his throwing shoulder, but renowned specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum has said there is no major injury to be concerned with. His return may be pushed back a week or two later than expected.
After missing the beginning of the season with an ulcer, Ichiro looked like his old self in extended spring training. He started last night for the Mariners, exploding back onto the scene with a grand slam and a stolen base, and is ready to go back into your fantasy lineups. We’ll see how the injury affects his season, but so far, so good.
It’s always wise to give a starting pitcher a start or two to work out the kinks before relying on them. I hope you were wise last night and missed Baker’s ugly start. He should be good to go for next week, but if you can afford to be cautious with him, I would continue to do so. He’ll likely be in my weekly lineup in Week 3.
R.J. White (or daullaz) has been actively involved in fantasy sports for over 14 years, making him an addict at this point. He loves writing, the Atlanta Braves, music, the Buffalo Bills, theatre, the Philadelphia Eagles, his family, and the number 42, though not in that order.
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