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Holliday, Hawpe hamstrung in Colorado

The Angels may be in the outfield in Los Angeles, but they are still missing in the infield (Howie Kendrick, Chone Figgins). Their National League counterparts have lost an outfielder (Andruw Jones) and are holding a place for an infielder -- Rafael Furcal -- but his anticipated return this week turned out to be just a tease. Meanwhile, the Colorado Rockies have had to replace two-thirds of their outfield (Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe) while losing their second shortstop (Clint Barmes) in a month. The whirlwind that is the injury carousel changes daily so please, read on.

Fausto Carmona, SP, Indians:
In what seems to have become a dangerous play for pitchers (see: Gallardo, Yovani; torn ACL), Carmona was injured Friday night while trying to run to cover first base. ESPN reports that an MRI showed a "moderate strain of an exterior muscle" in his left hip (this is not routine medical terminology so it is difficult to decipher the exact nature of the injury other than that it is a muscle strain) and Carmona is expected to miss about four weeks. As a right-handed pitcher, Carmona relies on the left hip musculature to control the rotation of his body weight and his balance from delivery to follow-through. The Indians hope that he will be able to start playing catch within a week and gradually work his way back during the subsequent 2-3 weeks. At just 24 years old without a major injury history, there is no reason at this point to expect anything less than full recovery. The good news for the Indians is that Carmona's spot will be filled by Jake Westbrook, who is returning from a DL stint resulting from a strained intercostal muscle (small muscles between the ribs). Westbrook has been on a successful rehab assignment and, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Westbrook will get the start Wednesday against the White Sox.

Matt Holliday and Brad Hawpe, OF, Rockies:
It appears that the hamstring injury bug traveled across leagues in the western division as the ailment that has so plagued the Los Angeles Angels this season has now attacked the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies lost not one, but two outfielders to the DL within the span of a day because of hamstring strains. Hawpe, who experienced cramping in his right hamstring Tuesday, was removed from that game for precautionary reasons, but it was clearly not enough. Hawpe never managed to make it back into a game, despite being available as a pinch hitter, and was ultimately placed on the DL on Saturday. According to the Denver Post, Hawpe believed he could play, but the team was concerned about his ability to make sudden moves in the outfield, always a risk for aggravating hamstring injuries. Besides, there were two other starting outfielders left. For one day that is. Teammate Holliday, in the spirit of adding injury to insult, felt his hamstring tighten up on him as he tried, but failed, to run out a grounder in the ninth inning of Saturday's loss. According to The Denver Post, Holliday had never experienced a hamstring strain before and consequently could not initially gauge the seriousness of the injury. Obviously, the team felt it was serious enough for him to join his outfield mate on the DL. The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that Holliday will not travel with the team this week so that he can remain at the Coors Field facility to receive more focused treatment. At least they can rehab together.

Clint Barmes, SS, Rockies:
First Troy Tulowitzki went down with a ruptured quadriceps tendon. Not good. Then Clint Barmes came along to fill Tulowitzki's position and performed like a rock star. Good! Now Barmes is out with a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee, the result of being on the receiving end of a Jose Reyes slide Friday night. Definitely not good. The MCL provides stability on the inner aspect of the knee joint, and for a shortstop whose defensive ability relies on quick lateral movements, this injury will hamper that particular skill. For his part, Barmes, who was hitting as well as he had since going on the DL in 2005 with a fractured clavicle (collarbone), says via the Rockies' official Web site that he has learned to "not push it too hard" from the experience of his previous injury. In other words, don't expect him back until he is fully able to perform. Barmes admittedly has never had a knee injury, but suggested a timetable of two to four weeks for his return. The timetable is reasonable for a minor sprain, but the true test before he rejoins the lineup will be whether Barmes can resume lateral cutting, which he needs for defense, and rotational movements, which he needs to swing the bat effectively. At this point, it still appears that Barmes will be back at the shortstop position before Tulowitzki, who, although he is progressing well in his rehab, likely will not return before the All-Star break.

Eric Gagne, RP, Brewers:
In the category of not-really-a-surprise news, Gagne was placed on the 15-day DL to rest his inflamed rotator cuff. Gagne developed soreness in the shoulder while putting in some extra work a week ago to address problems with his delivery. Despite a cortisone shot and a brief period of rest, which realistically did not afford him enough time to fully recover, the decision was made to move him to the DL. Gagne no doubt needed the additional break, perhaps as much mentally as physically given his struggles to close consistently this season. This does not sound like an extreme case and it was addressed fairly quickly, so Gagne's chances of returning at the end of the time frame appear reasonable. Be that as it may, returning to throwing programs can be fraught with setbacks, so we will keep an eye on how Gagne is faring in his rehab program.

Reggie Willits, OF, Angels:
Oh no, the outfield can't be starting to fall apart in Anaheim. Willits, who took a spike to the finger from the White Sox's Orlando Cabrera on Saturday, was fortunate to come away without a fracture. When asked to describe the pain, Willits told the Los Angeles Times that if felt like a smashed fingernail except that Cabrera's spike "went all the way through the nail." Ouch. After taking a day to allow the swelling to subside, Willits, despite some soreness, is faring better and appears to have avoided a trip to the DL. The Angels have him listed as day-to-day and he is available to pinch run and hit. The fact that the injury is affecting one of his throwing fingers means he likely will take a few more days before he returns to his regular position.

Gary Sheffield, DH, Tigers:
Sheffield left Monday's game with what is being called an oblique spasm in his left side. The Detroit Free Press reported that Sheffield pulled up and grabbed his left side while heading to first on a groundout. He left the game and did not return. It has been a tough year for Sheffield, whose shoulder has not been everything he hoped it would be following offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum. He also suffered a tendon avulsion in his ring finger in April and still sports a small brace for support. Oblique strains are notorious for lingering, but it remains to be seen whether this was just a muscular spasm that resolves quickly or something more serious. Stay tuned.

Not so fast ...

This week, a handful of players who looked as though they might be making a go of it took a turn for the worse. Bad news if you're a fan in Los Angeles.

Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers:
It sure sounded as if Furcal was going to be rejoining his ailing team this week, but then the Dodgers got cold feet, and understandably so. Furcal awoke with stiffness in his back Thursday, prompting the Dodgers to re-evaluate the value of sending Furcal on a road trip that would have him flying across the country with a still touchy back. According to the Los Angeles Times, it appears that Furcal will not make the trip, which also affords him another week of rest and rehabilitation. Look for him to return in another week.

Andruw Jones, OF, Dodgers:
Although Jones had hoped to postpone surgery on his ailing right knee until the offseason, it was not to be. Jones attempted to play Friday night, but the swelling in his knee associated with a meniscal injury and Baker's cyst was limiting his performance. Although Jones refused to blame his struggles at the plate on his knee, as general manager Ned Colletti told the Los Angeles Times, "When you think about the right knee, it's the back knee, it's the one that's continually in motion." Jones' back (right) knee has to undergo a good deal of torsion when he swings the bat, and a flap of cartilage, as well as joint swelling, will limit how well the knee accommodates the swing. The surgery will no doubt help him in this regard and is scheduled for Tuesday. Recovery is normally anywhere from four to six weeks, assuming no setbacks. Knowing that this problem has actually been bothering Jones for nearly two months, it would not be surprising if he is able to turn his productivity around when he returns. Fantasy owners may want to pick him up as he approaches the end of his rehab timetable.

Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels:
They're back. Well, no, not quite yet. That seems to be the mantra down in Los Angeles for the Angels' infielders who have been besieged by hamstring strains. Kendrick's injury, thought to be the more serious of the two, happened first and he has suffered a string of setbacks ever since. Kendrick underwent a repeat MRI at one point, and the conclusion afterward was that Kendrick had torn some scar tissue which resulted in some pain, but did not worsen his original injury. Nonetheless, he has been unable to get back to a rehab assignment as attempts at running full speed have been limited because of discomfort. This weekend, however, Kendrick was able to run the bases and the plan is for him to resume a rehab assignment this week. Only time will tell if he is able to handle the progression this time around. Meanwhile, teammate Figgins was activated Wednesday, but was then forced to sit out after just one game in Toronto because of soreness in the hamstring. What looked like one day of rest turned into two, then four, and now the Angels are hinting that another stint on the DL remains a possibility. Much to the chagrin of the Angels, these two athletes exemplify how challenging recovering from a hamstring strain can be, especially when your game depends on speed and explosiveness. The unpredictability of how these muscles respond to the stop/start nature of power running in baseball has been demonstrated here with the players' repeated setbacks. Fantasy owners, unless you have space to spare on your bench, if you haven't moved on yet, there's no time like the present.