There is some good news to report in the baseball blog this week. Besides the fact that you may be celebrating your upcoming fantasy baseball playoff matchups, the return of a couple of previously injured players brought a smile to their teammates and fantasy owners alike.
Mets third baseman David Wright rejoined his team Tuesday night after a stint on the disabled list with a concussion that he suffered last month when he was hit in the head by a 93 mph fastball. He made more than a fashion statement in his first at-bat by sporting a new Rawlings S100 helmet that, according to the company, can withstand the impact of a 100 mph fastball. It will be interesting to see whether other players follow Wright's lead, compromising style for safety, something that should be an easy decision.
And how about Tim Hudson's return from Tommy John surgery Tuesday? He looked pretty darn good, allowing just six hits and two runs. He also struck out five. There were high fives all around as his teammates welcomed him back. Fantasy owners looking for a pitcher in the playoffs might think about picking him up, but be sure to check his status, as the Braves may elect not to have him start every fifth day.
But, as always, there are injuries old and new to discuss.
Jake Peavy, P, White Sox: Ah, the best-laid plans ... Just when it seemed Peavy was in line to make his White Sox debut, he took a hard line drive to his pitching elbow that may have thrown his goal of returning this season into a tailspin.
Peavy, recovering from a partially torn tibialis posterior tendon in his right lower leg, had been solid in his initial rehab outings and had looked on track to make his White Sox debut in early September -- that is, until he was hit on his right elbow. Peavy initially experienced soreness and swelling in the elbow, as expected. The problem, however, has lingered to the point where it appears he may not appear on the mound for the White Sox this season after all. Peavy was forced to exit a subsequent rehab start because of elbow discomfort, and a recent MRI revealed fluid in the area, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Chicago Tribune reports that manager Ozzie Guillen is seriously considering shutting Peavy down for the year if the White Sox's free fall continues. Sorry, fantasy owners, Peavy's leg did heal well enough (as projected) for him to make a September return. Unfortunately, we can't anticipate those comebackers to the throwing elbow ... and neither could the White Sox.
Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs: Last week, we recommended insurance for Soriano's fantasy owners because of the unknown status of his painful left knee. This week, one MRI and cortisone shot later, you still need that insurance, because there is at least the chance that Soriano's knee will continue to give him problems intermittently.
Soriano's MRI reportedly showed only inflammation in the knee, without any specific structural damage, according to the Daily Herald. The Cubs' official Web site reported that Soriano received a cortisone injection in his ailing knee, which Soriano hopes will help him. It's true. Cortisone does help alleviate inflammation and can provide a temporary relief. The bigger question for the long haul is what the root cause of this inflammation is. Soriano has said he does not want offseason surgery, but it might not be avoidable if the pain and irritation linger. In the meantime, fantasy owners need to be aware that Soriano (who returned to the lineup Tuesday) is likely to have ups and downs through the remainder of the season.
Four guys who left Tuesday's games with injuries:
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: Jones sprained his left ankle when he twisted it on first base. X-rays were negative, but manager Dave Trembley called it a "pretty good sprain," according to the Baltimore Sun. Here's the thing about sprains: A bad sprain can take longer to recover from than a small fracture (break). Soft-tissue injuries are less well defined when it comes to healing time frames and can create challenges in balance and agility, which are critical for any sport. Jones, who had recently returned from a back injury, may be out for a while and should not be counted on for fantasy production.
Michael Young, 3B, Rangers: Young is expected to undergo an MRI on Wednesday after straining his left hamstring running out a grounder in the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader. The fact that he is being sent for an MRI suggests that the team thinks the injury is on the serious side. As we have seen multiple times, soft-tissue injuries are hard to predict, and even a moderate strain could sideline Young for an extended period. It would not be surprising if he was moved to the DL, but that likely will be decided after the MRI results come back. Fantasy owners should prepare for the worst.
Jon Lester, P, Red Sox: The Red Sox had to be worried when Lester exited the game in the sixth inning Tuesday because of a sore right groin. According to the Boston Herald, his removal was precautionary, and there's no reason to push the issue at this point in the season. Perhaps most reassuringly, Lester told the Herald, "I don't think it's going to hinder me or prevent me from pitching." So far it sounds as if the lefty is not expected to miss time.
Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins: Ramirez is now listed as day-to-day because of left hamstring tightness that forced an early exit Tuesday. The good news is that Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez called it "a cramp" on the Marlins' official Web site. He does not expect Ramirez to miss much time. The team was waiting to see how he looked when he arrived at the facility Wednesday, but it sounds as if this is a less serious scenario than Michael Young's.
On the mend
• Could it really be so? Is Carlos Beltran returning to the Mets? There is still no definitive answer, but Beltran finally did something this week that he had not done in months: He ran the bases. Beltran, who has been challenged by a bone bruise in his right knee, has been cleared to begin a rehab assignment, according to the Mets, and is scheduled to play Wednesday night. How Beltran tolerates all the different facets of the game when he has to put them together for several innings at a time will determine whether he can ultimately return. It will be important to see not only how his knee behaves during a game but also how he feels the next day and the day after that as he plays in consecutive games. If he is able to pass this test, it's quite possible he'll make an appearance with the Mets in September. Although this is good news, there are still hurdles to cross, so it is best to take a wait-and-see approach. The Mets -- and anyone who roots for them -- are certainly accustomed to doing just that.
• Braves outfielder Nate McLouth is expected to play in a minor league rehab game Thursday, according to the team's official Web site. He is recovering from a right hamstring strain, and as is known to happen, he suffered a setback in a rehab game this past weekend. Fortunately, that setback appears to have been minor, and McLouth is back in the rehab groove. If Thursday's game is uneventful, he could rejoin the team Friday. Be sure to check lineups before the weekend.
And finally ... a heads-up to all Grady Sizemore fantasy owners. The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that the team may elect to shut the outfielder down early for surgery on his ailing left elbow. The surgery itself is not a surprise; this has been something looming for Sizemore for months. The surprise may be in the timing. Although the Indians indicate that they have not made an absolute decision, it sounds as if they are leaning in that direction to ensure that Sizemore is ready to start Opening Day next season. Recent call-up Michael Brantley would be expected to replace him in center.