Three Up, Three Down. That's what I've decided to call today's blog. It just seemed to capture the injury pattern in baseball in a neat, baseball-lingo sort of way. Just when you think it's time to get excited about players nearing a return from injury, the enthusiasm is tempered by others being forced out with new ailments. It's a never-ending battle for teams to maintain a healthy roster and this week is no different from any we've seen so far this season.
We start with the good news, which is as it should be on a Friday. Here are three players whose status appear to be on the upswing:
Neftali Feliz, P, Texas Rangers: When the Rangers put their closer on the DL in April, they did so fairly quickly. After Feliz initially complained of tightness in his shoulder, he struggled in his subsequent outing and that was enough for the Rangers to make the call. That decision may prove to be very beneficial in the long-term. Feliz looked so good in his Double-A Frisco rehab appearance on Wednesday that the Rangers decided to activate him before Friday's game (the first day he was eligible to return). Feliz will be back in the closer's role this weekend as the Rangers host the New York Yankees.
Jake Peavy, P, Chicago White Sox: Peavy's return from surgery to repair his ruptured latissimus dorsi tendon has been well documented, as have his minor speed bumps along the way. Peavy initially experienced some rotator cuff tendinitis during spring training, which forced him to back off his progression. After working his way back into rehab starts, Peavy had a recurrence of discomfort in his shoulder in mid-April, which again slowed his progress. His past two rehab starts, however, have signaled his readiness to return to the majors. Not only has he been throwing some good pitches, he has also been able to get his total pitch count up to 100, indicating his endurance has improved. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Peavy could make his season debut for the White Sox on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels.
Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers: There was a collective sad sigh among Rangers fans and fantasy owners on April 12 when Hamilton suffered a humerus fracture sliding into home plate. At the time, his projected absence was estimated at six to eight weeks. Hamilton is making strides, however, which suggest that he could return on the short end of that timetable. As of Wednesday, he was swinging off a tee, just over three weeks post-injury. For him to be cleared for this activity, the Rangers' medical staff must like what they're seeing in terms of the arm healing. As general manager Jon Daniels told the Dallas Morning News, "It's too early to narrow down a date for his return, but we're definitely heading in a good direction and it's reasonable to assume he'll be back within the original time frame." Hamilton's ability to increase his activity with his arm is as important for preserving muscular strength and coordination as anything else, which may help improve how he fares at the plate when he does return.
And then there are the less fortunate. Here are three players whose recent injuries will keep them down for at least the 15-day minimum.
Nyjer Morgan, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: Morgan gave new meaning to the term "sacrifice bunt" when he absorbed the impact of the baseball on his left middle finger on a bunt during Thursday's game, ending up on the DL as a result. Morgan had just been activated from the DL two days earlier for a thigh contusion. The team estimates he could be away for two to four weeks, but the usual concerns about grip strength following a finger injury will follow.
Eric Chavez, 3B, New York Yankees: Even Chavez would probably acknowledge that the injury-prone label is justified but that says nothing about his work ethic. Chavez has battled his way back from numerous injuries, most recently a career-threatening neck issue, but earned himself a spot with the New York Yankees after an impressive spring. Unfortunately, he finds himself back on the disabled list after fracturing the fifth metatarsal (long bone of the outer forefoot) in his left foot while running out a triple on Thursday. The amount of time he'll miss is unclear but expect it to exceed 15 days.
Brandon Lyon, P, Houston Astros: The announcement that Lyon was being evaluated for shoulder weakness suggested the presence of a muscular injury. Sure enough, an MRI revealed a partial rotator cuff tear and biceps tendinitis in Lyon's right shoulder, not encouraging, but also not particularly surprising in a veteran pitcher. In other words, the wear and tear aspect of the injury is not likely new and has possibly been evolving for some time. Clearly it has become more problematic of late, as Lyon had not been effective in recent outings. He will be treated conservatively, meaning no surgery (at least not yet) but rather a period of rest and recovery followed by strengthening and a gradual throwing progression. Lyon should not be expected to return anytime soon.