Every Monday, in this space, we'll provide updates on a variety of players to help you make your weekly lineup decisions. We'll specifically try to hit the players who are day-to-day, have just gone on the DL or are ready to return, so that you can better decide whether you can count on them or not.
All projected return timelines should be considered fluid.
Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels (placed on DL 7/28): Pujols has been placed on the DL with a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot. This can’t be a big surprise to anyone, including Pujols, who has been dealing with some form of the injury off and on for almost seven years. In the spring of 2006, an issue with the foot surfaced, but Pujols did not miss any time. In 2007 and 2008, he dealt with a left calf strain, spending time on the DL as a result. (Calf strains and plantar fascia injuries often go hand in hand.) In the spring of this year, Pujols was bothered by the foot off and on throughout April. The pain was so severe at one point that it led Pujols to say, "I’m dying." At the time, the plan was to try and manage his symptoms by resting him intermittently, but the possibility always existed that the condition could worsen. The partial tear means the intact fibers are left absorbing the load and are threatened with further damage every time the foot hits the ground. The pain is typically stabbing and severe, and the dense tissue is not prone to rapid healing. That translates to rest being a big part of the equation in recovery with the hope that scar tissue will form and the pain will eventually decrease. Biomechanical issues of the foot typically contribute to the condition, and various stretching and strengthening exercises along with supportive footwear are all components of treatment. Sometimes surgery to "release" the plantar fascia is an option, but even if he were to undergo such a procedure, it would not be a quick fix. Nothing about this condition in its chronic, aggravated stage is quick. It may very well be the end of the season for Pujols, but if he does manage to return for the final weeks of the year, no one should presume that that indicates a full recovery.
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (day-to-day): In early July, Gonzalez took an awkward swing and sprained the middle finger on his right hand. What started as a seemingly minor problem is lingering a little more than anyone would like, a reminder that a player's grip on the bat is controlled by intricate and delicate structures in the hand. Gonzalez had actually seen improvement and believed the finger was no longer a concern. Perhaps it appeared that way until last Thursday when he aggravated it during an at-bat in the first inning. He has not played since. The Denver Post reported Gonzalez was sporting thick layers of black tape around his finger and that he and the team were still evaluating options. While it sounds as if the team does not believe a DL stint will completely resolve the problem, it also sounds as if this is not likely to go away no matter what path they choose. The risk of aggravation exists with every swing of the bat. It’s unclear how much time he will miss in the near future as the Rockies are calling him day-to-day. The likelihood is that, regardless of whether he goes on the DL, he will again string together series of games where he performs well, but a setback could be lurking around the corner.
Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees (placed on DL 5/25, could return this week): It’s almost hard to believe Granderson has played in only eight major league games this season, but he could be getting close to upping that number. Out since May with his second fracture of the year, this one in his hand, Granderson’s main challenge right now is to get comfortable at the plate. Not necessarily because he’s apprehensive about getting beaned again and suffering yet another fracture (which is how the first two happened), but because he simply hasn’t been at the plate much this year. This second fracture required surgical stabilization, and Granderson struggled to get his range of motion back initially, making it difficult to grip the bat. He has cleared that hurdle, but his time away from the game has no doubt left him rusty. According to WFAN, manager Joe Girardi says Granderson could return this weekend, but fantasy owners should not expect too much out of the gate. The risk of re-injury is low, but it may take him some time to perform consistently at the plate.
Brandon Beachy, SP, Braves (started season on DL, activated 7/29): He’s back. The wait has been long and was slowed by a brief setback, but Beachy will make his return from Tommy John surgery tonight. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Beachy will be capped at around 100 pitches per Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, a number in line with his progression of increasing pitches across his rehab assignment. Expectations need to be tempered just as they would be for anyone returning from this kind of surgery, as velocity often returns more quickly and more consistently than command. It may take Beachy a bit to get comfortable again at the major league level, and he will likely be in a very good place by the second half of next season. For now, he is still a work in progress as his first few outings should really be considered the final phase of his rehab.