The playoff races are heating up as the regular season is winding down. Every time a player is threatened by an injury scare the entire season seems to be suddenly in jeopardy, especially when it's these guys.
• Oh Captain! My captain! Derek Jeter, the most reliable player on his team, if not in the entire league, gave everyone a scare when he had to leave Wednesday's game early. But there is a reason he is the New York Yankees' captain, and his return to the lineup the very next day spoke to his quiet leadership by example.
Manager Joe Girardi indicated after Wednesday's game that this was not the first time Jeter's left ankle had bothered him. Apparently, the injury has been an issue since the team was on the road in Tampa Bay last week, but Jeter hasn't missed a beat. Jeter jammed the ankle Wednesday while running out a grounder to first base, causing pain. It's not difficult to pinch the ankle joint if the foot lands in just the right position, forcing the primary ankle bone (talus) up against the lower leg bone (tibia). If there was any preexisting edema or bruising around the bone, a quick jamming of the joint could easily aggravate it. While it might have been painful, it was not enough to keep Jeter down. He served as DH on Thursday, but it shouldn't be long before he's back to his usual role. The risk of a flare-up remains, but Jeter has made it clear it won't be something that concerns him.
• The Texas Rangers were seemingly dealt a double blow when both outfielder Josh Hamilton and third baseman Adrian Beltre left Wednesday's game with injuries. Hamilton had a sore left knee and Beltre had an ailing left shoulder. Fortunately for the Rangers, neither was considered serious, according to ESPN Dallas. Hamilton got an injection in his knee and sat out Thursday's game, but he is expected to return Friday.
Beltre injured his shoulder on a diving fielding play in the second inning and was out of the game by the fourth. He subsequently had an MRI, which showed no structural damage. While he was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation, he convinced manager Ron Washington he could go Thursday. Beltre filled in at DH and likely will be evaluated on a daily basis before returning to play defense.
• Colorado Rockies shortstop Tulowitzki is back with his team but he's not really back just yet. Putting the final touches on a rehab effort that has been ongoing since June, the team is not yet declaring Tulowitzki ready for prime time even though he has returned to Denver. After undergoing surgery to remove scar tissue in the groin area, Tulowitzki has been on a steady recovery process, even pulling back at times when he expressed apprehension about pushing the recently repaired area.
To the Rockies' credit, he has been given the latitude to make a very gradual return, understandably made easier because they are out of contention. Still, if he is healthy enough to play in a major league game, he will do so before the season ends. If nothing else, it will allow Tulowitzki to enter the offseason confident that he has been able to return to full strength. The Rockies have not definitively indicated when he might see game action, but it sounds as if it could possibly come as soon as this weekend.