Every spring training, the injury bug bites a few elite stars and several relevant fantasy players. We covered the National League players bound for the DL earlier in the week, but there’s quite a bit of injury concern on the American League side as well. Players rehabbing from injuries but not expected to be ready for Opening Day include Kendrys Morales, Grady Sizemore and Curtis Granderson, among others. Let’s look at them now.
1B Kendrys Morales, LAA. While the Angels had held out hope that Morales would be ready to DH at the start of the season, manager Mike Scioscia has ruled him out for Opening Day and stated that Morales would head to the disabled list. Morales recently experienced throbbing in his left foot that has since subsided. Any time spent on the DL is a blessing in disguise for fantasy owners, as it makes it more likely Morales will be close to 100 percent when he finally does take the field.
OF Curtis Granderson, NYY. The Yankees outfielder suffered a right oblique strain late in spring training that has threatened his availability for the start of the regular season. While he’s been doing all he can while dealing with the injury, Granderson is expected to miss at least the first week of the season while recovering from the injury. A DL stint also remains a possibility.
OF Grady Sizemore, CLE. The former 30/30 threat has been a shell of his former self over the last two years, dealing with a plethora of injuries and a sharp downturn in his production. Sizemore has been rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee since June of last season but did make it into a spring training game in center field, albeit not for nine innings. He’ll likely start the season on the DL but should be ready for game action before the end of April.
1B Justin Morneau, MIN. Hugely productive when on the field, Morneau has been recovering from last year’s concussion that caused him to miss half a season of baseball. He’s proven he can handle consecutive games during spring training, so Morneau should be on the field Opening Day for the Twins. Better yet, he shouldn’t need many extra off days. He’s a valuable trade target in leagues if his owners are still apprehensive about his condition.
SP Brandon Morrow, TOR. The Blue Jays have announced that Morrow will begin the year on the DL with inflammation in his right forearm. He may be out for just one start, he may miss a couple starts. At any rate, his fantasy value shouldn’t be adjusted just yet, as the popular sleeper could be good as new by the middle of April.
SP Jake Peavy, CHW. Pessimism about Peavy’s rehab time caused his price to drop early in the drafting season, but encouraging news made it appear he’d be ready by Opening Day, or at least the first time the White Sox needed a fifth starter. Alas, the news has turned sour again, with Peavy now scheduled to miss at least a few starts and maybe over a month. I’d keep him on the DL for now, but this may wind up being a lost season for the former fantasy ace, as he could battle injury issues all year long.
RP Andrew Bailey, OAK. Fantasy owners seemingly dodged a bullet when Bailey was diagnosed with a strained right forearm, though a visit to Dr. James Andrews caused the rotosphere to hold its collective breath. Bailey is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season, but there’s a 50-50 chance he won’t need to hit the DL, so we could see him in game action at some point in the first week of April.
RP David Aardsma, SEA. After needing surgery during the offseason to repair his hip, Aardsma has been working feverishly to be ready for the start of the season; however, he’s expected to miss at least two weeks of the regular season, if not the entire month of April. Brandon League will fill in as closer while Aardsma is out, and a good showing from League could earn him the role full-time.
SP Brandon Webb, TEX. Having spent two years on the shelf, Webb should be anxious to finally hit the mound. He was able to participate in long-toss for the first time on Friday, a big step in his recovery from his shoulder injury. We still have no firm timetable on Webb’s recovery, but it would be a mild surprise to see him start Major-League games before the All-Star Break.
RPs Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel, TOR. Dotel initially looked like the favorite for save chances after signing a contract with Toronto this offseason, but the Blue Jays traded for another former closer, Frank Francisco. As it turns out, neither will be the closer at the start of the season, as both are expected to hit the DL at the beginning of the year. Francisco is worth hanging on to in fantasy leagues, though Jon Rauch will also be worth owning for at least a couple weeks. Dotel can be ignored.
2B Carlos Guillen, DET. Like Sizemore, Guillen is recovering from microfracture knee surgery. He’s behind the Indians centerfielder in his recovery and is a near lock to start the season on the DL. Fantasy owners shouldn’t bother waiting for the 35-year-old second baseman, as Guillen isn’t appreciably better than Detroit’s other second base options.
C Miguel Olivo, SEA. Olivo has been battling a strained groin throughout the month of March, but reports are positive that he’ll be ready for the start of the season. Still, he’s not a great fantasy option moving into the cavernous confines of Safeco Field.
C Jason Kendall, KC. While many fantasy leagues have the luxury of ignoring Kendall’s injury status, those in two-catcher leagues need to monitor every backstop news item during the season. Kendall has seemed ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery, but chances are he’ll be on the DL at the start of the season. Expect him back before the end of April.
SP Rich Harden, OAK. Originally in the mix for the fifth starter role in Oakland, Harden has been sidelined by an injury to his lat muscle. After suffering a setback in his recovery, Harden has been ruled out for Opening Day and will pitch from the bullpen when he does return. Electric in short spurts, Harden must be monitored throughout the season and added if he eventually joins the rotation.
OF Franklin Gutierrez, SEA. The centerfielder has been battling stomach issues for much of the past year, and it has gotten worse over the last week, which has sidelined Gutierrez. He’s a likely candidate for the DL to start the season, but whatever is causing the troubles could clear up at any time. Be forewarned that until this issue is stamped out for good, Gutierrez runs the risk of needing games off at a moment’s notice during the season.
C John Jaso, TB. Jaso recently tweaked his groin muscle, putting his status for Opening Day in doubt. However, he seems to be past the worst of the injury and could be on the field for the Rays’ first game. At any rate, without a setback Jaso should be ready to go by the third or fourth game of the season at the very latest.
RP J.P. Howell, TB. With the closer role wide open in Tampa Bay, any and all relievers with excellent stuff or former experience as closer need to be monitored. Howell, who posted 17 saves in 2009 for the Rays, is still recovering from shoulder surgery and is expected to be out till May. If he returns to a ninth-inning mess, he could wind up racking up saves soon after he hits the mound.
SP Tommy Hunter, TEX. While not a big fantasy name, Hunter held his own in 2010, posting 13 wins and excellent ratios despite underwhelming peripherals. He suffered a severe groin strain late in spring training and should miss at least the first month of the season, so he can be forgotten in all but the deepest of mixed leagues.
OF Scott Podsednik, TOR. The speedster has been dealing with a case of plantar fascitis this spring training and just recently had the cast removed from his foot. He’ll begin the season on the DL and will eventually return to a fourth-outfielder role, making him ignorable in standard fantasy leagues.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz.
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