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 dates should be considered fluid.
David Freese, 3B, Cardinals (due back Monday): Freese started the season on the DL after experiencing persistent back pain this spring. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday that Freese would be activated Monday, joining his teammates in St. Louis for their home opener. Based on his performance over the weekend at Triple-A Memphis, Freese looks as if he's feeling just fine.
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves (placed on DL April 7): Freeman was placed on the DL with a strained right oblique and seemed none too pleased about it, saying he had no input into the decision. Braves general manager Frank Wren explained the team was "... not going to take a chance to turn what would be two to three weeks into six or eight weeks by tearing that oblique area." True, many oblique injuries venture into the six-week arena, but the Braves are hoping the early rest will be a pre-emptive strike.
Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers (DTD): Braun has missed three games because of spasms on the right side of his neck, which are preventing him from being able to hit. Unfortunately, that's a reasonably significant part of his job. So far it appears the Brewers remain hopeful he can avoid a trip to the DL, but his status remains murky. Braun said he felt a little better Sunday than he did Saturday, but clearly he was still not well enough to play. Braun has been pretty good in the past at avoiding the DL by taking a few days off here and there when ailments crop up. It remains to be seen whether he can do so again as this ailment involves more than just pushing through soreness; this is a question of being able to function at the plate.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Brewers (placed on DL April 6): Ramirez sprained his left knee sliding into base on Friday evening, an eerily similar move to the first time he injured the knee earlier this spring. The team has not indicated the severity (or specifics) of the injury, but given that this is the second time in a month he's hurt the same knee, it would stand to reason that this absence will be more protracted.
Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics (DTD): Reddick left Sunday's game in the bottom of the fifth inning after crashing into the wall while chasing a foul ball. He left the game cradling his right arm and the official diagnosis was a (vague) sprained right wrist. Fortunately, early X-rays were negative but the force with which he hit the wall was enough to concern Reddick and his teammates. He is not expected to play Tuesday and don't be surprised if his absence extends deep into the week. If pain and swelling compromise his ability to grip the bat (bottom hand means more torsion) and throw the ball, it could force him to sit longer.
Nolan Reimold, DH, Orioles (DTD) Reimold left Sunday's game with tightness in his right hamstring and there was initially concern about just how serious it might be. He is not in Monday's lineup but at this time does not appear headed to the DL. Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports Reimold says he expects to be ready to return after Tuesday's off day. Of course, the true test for a hamstring is seeing how it holds up when a player returns to action. For now, at least, it appears to be minor.
Hiroki Kuroda, SP, Yankees: The Yankees got another injury scare when Kuroda left last Wednesday's game after taking a line drive to the third finger of his pitching hand. Although nothing was broken and the injury was labeled a contusion, Kuroda's next start was in question. Kuroda is indeed expected to start Monday against the Indians, but according to the New York Post he is still experiencing pain in the finger and says he won't be able to see how it feels until he is on the mound. He attempted to remain in last week's game after taking the comebacker to the finger but his command was gone. He has thrown a bullpen since then so he has tested it to a degree but it's still unclear what to expect from his first outing since the incident.
Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees: After starting the season on the DL, Hughes made his return to the starting rotation Saturday, but if fantasy owners left him out of their lineup, they didn't miss out. While his outing wasn't stellar, the more important feature is that Hughes seemed to survive it without any setback. While he is hardly out of the woods given his extensive injury history, it's a good first step. Hughes is expected to make his next start on April 11 against Cleveland.
Shaun Marcum, Mets (placed on DL April 1): Marcum had his neck evaluated by team doctors and the report of "nerve inflammation" was issued according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Marcum received injections to help with pain and inflammation but he remains without a timetable. There is the primary issue of resolving the inflammation in the neck and the secondary issue of restoring strength to his throwing arm, the two of which are interdependent. Manager Terry Collins hints at a best case scenario return in late April but these types of ailments rarely respond quickly. Likely best to presume Marcum will be unavailable until May.
Yu Darvish, SP, Rangers (DTD): There were only two small blemishes in Darvish's near-perfect first outing of the season: one pesky ground ball, and one annoying blister on his right ring (fourth) finger. The blister didn't keep him from his Sunday night start, but it did force him to leave the game after five innings, raising our concern level a bit. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers still intend for Darvish to start Friday. It's worth keeping a close eye on his Friday performance to see if the blister remains a factor, as that could cause him to change course.
Jered Weaver, SP, Angels (DTD): Weaver landed awkwardly on his non-throwing (left) forearm as he fell on the mound in response to a comebacker. The team later reported his injury as a "left elbow strain." It appeared his weight came down on his flexed left wrist, which could certainly strain the wrist extensor tendons that attach just above the elbow. X-rays were negative, but it's not yet clear whether Weaver will make his next start. Despite the injury being to his non-throwing arm, he still needs to be able to field defensively on the mound. And even pitching right-handed requires the left arm to go through a prescribed range of motion from stance to followthrough. A painful or limited left elbow could potentially compromise delivery. Be prepared for the possibility that Weaver could miss a start.