Those of you who have fantasy teams stacked with Yankees players, well, our condolences. They seem to have walked under ladders, stepped on cracks or opened umbrellas indoors lately, as a spate of bizarre injuries has befallen the team. We're not all gloom and doom here, though. Just read on to see who is coming available soon ...
Phil Hughes, SP, New York Yankees: The Yankees' injury woes continue. Hughes must wonder what he did to deserve the string of not-so-good luck he has suffered over the past two years. He missed significant time in 2007 after straining his hamstring while pitching. He then added further insult to his injury by spraining his ankle while rehabilitating the hamstring. Recently, after experiencing some pain in his side, Hughes thought he might be dealing with that all-too-common pitching ailment, the oblique strain. Imagine his surprise when tests revealed he actually had a small crack, a stress fracture, in his ninth rib.
How did this happen? No one is quite sure, least of all Hughes, who says he has no idea when the injury occurred. Stress fractures usually are indicative of repeated trauma over a period of time, and in the ribs, they have been known to be caused by something as simple as repetitive coughing during an episode of flu or pneumonia. Given that many rib and abdominal muscles attach to the ribs, it also is possible the stresses of pitching could have contributed to Hughes' situation.
The fact that the bone is cracked means Hughes must abstain completely from baseball activities until the bone heals. Normal healing takes approximately six weeks; at this point, the Yankees are saying Hughes will not pick up a baseball for at least four weeks and then will require at least another month to work his way back to game readiness. Projections have Hughes out until after the All-Star break, and this looks to be about right. Fantasy owners, it's time to move on.
Brian Bruney, RP, New York Yankees: Did I mention that the Yankees are suffering from a string of injuries, some of them bizarre? Add Bruney to that list with a foot injury you just don't see in baseball. He slipped while running to cover first base and suffered a Lisfranc injury, ligament damage to the region that bridges the midfoot and the forefoot. This is an injury we often see in football as a result of an athlete being on the ball of his foot and then being forced into a twisting motion. The middle region of the foot buckles under the stress, and the degree of injury ranges from a ligament sprain, which can be minor, to a fracture/dislocation, meaning bones are broken and out of position. The latter is a definite surgical situation followed by a lengthy rehabilitation process. In Bruney's case, Newsday reported that an MRI showed no structural damage. He has sought several opinions regarding the most appropriate treatment for his foot, and according to a New York Times report, he will not have surgery. Nonetheless, these are slow-healing injuries, and Bruney will be out until at least August while the foot heals.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies: We first talked about Tulowitzki on Wednesday when he was initially diagnosed with a strained left quadriceps. The latest reports indicate Tulowitzki actually tore the quadriceps tendon near the hip. What does this mean? The quadriceps is the large muscle on the front of the thigh necessary for running, jumping, squatting and just about every other lower-extremity maneuver you can imagine. Muscles are anchored to bone by tendons whose main purpose is to transfer the contractile energy generated by the muscle to the bone, ultimately resulting in movement of the bone. The distal (far) end of the quadriceps has a tendon that attaches just below the kneecap on the tibia (shinbone). Because quad contraction usually results in knee movement, we tend to think of this as the primary quad tendon, and this is the region most often injured. But there is another quadriceps tendon, the proximal (near) end, which attaches above the hip to the pelvis. Injury to this tendon often is seen in kickers and soccer players as it tends to occur with explosive hip movement. Now we can add Tulowitzki to this list. It appears he is not headed for surgery, but given the time it will take for swelling and bruising to heal, and the additional time it will take him to regain strength and power, expect Tulowitzki to miss significant time. Reports vary, but according to the Rockies' Web site, expect him to miss at least six weeks. I would venture to say that is indeed the minimum.
And in the good news department: Tampa Bay Rays pitching ace Scott Kazmir is scheduled to make his regular-season debut this weekend. Kazmir has been out since spring training with inflammation in his throwing elbow, which first acted up after he felt he hyperextended it. The Rays have brought him along slowly and gradually in the interest of keeping him in the rotation once he is activated, and it seems to have paid off. He has had no symptoms in the elbow and has been able to throw all his pitches. The extra time no doubt has allowed him to gain some additional endurance in his throwing arm and the confidence to know he has tested it extensively.
New York Mets outfielder Moises Alou also is set to be activated this week, making his return from hernia surgery and a sprained ankle he picked up during his rehab. He has made a speedier recovery than expected from the surgery, and once resolved, this is not likely to be the type of thing that will give him any additional trouble. The ankle, however, is more typical of the types of injuries we have come to expect from Alou, those of the strain and sprain variety. Alou is not a young man, and fantasy owners should expect that he will continue to be susceptible to these types of setbacks across the season. Keep a backup handy.
Thanks for reading! Please check back throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. It appears there will be no shortage of material in the foreseeable future, as injuries are just a part of the game. At least we're approaching that stage of the season where we get to see some players return from the disabled list. Fantasy owners now can start scouring for some good value players who were cast aside by others early on. May your fantasy teams have a healthy and productive weekend!