Thursday, April 24, 2008

Batter Injury Updates and Fantasy Impact - Week 4

Each week, FSE takes a look at the key injuries affecting fantasy baseball owners and offers updates, projected return times and the impending fantasy implications. Here we focus on the hitters.

Welcome Back

Curtis Granderson (Broken Right Hand) – Granderson returned to the lineup on Wednesday going 2/4 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI. He followed that up Thursday with a solo homerun.

Fantasy Impact: Get him in your lineup as fast as you can.

Welcome To The DL

Jimmy Rollins (Ankle) – Rollins officially hit the DL Sunday and is scheduled to take batting practice today at Florida. He may begin playing in rehab games as early as next week.

Fantasy Impact: Huge blow to fantasy owners but it could be worse people. Rollins looks to be healing well and his rehab process is moving along on schedule. Eric Bruntlett will start in his place.

Projected Return: Early May

See You This Weekend?

Michael Cuddyer (Finger) – Cuddyer is coming off the DL Friday and start that night at Texas.

Fantasy Impact: With Cuddyer back, Denard Span will return to the bench while Jason Kubel and Craig Monroe may split DH duties. Kubel had some nice potential entering the season. However, if the Twins choose to platoon him at DH it will mean he is not guaranteed at-bats on a nightly basis thus making him a risky fantasy option.

Projected Return: Friday at Texas

Michael Bourn (Groin) – Bourn sat out Thursday’s game and hopes to be ready to go on Friday. He has said repeatedly that he does not want to rush back and risk further injury, a bad sign for owners of the Astros’ speedster.

Fantasy Impact: Bourn is a terror on the basepaths, leading the league with 13 steals entering play today. Darin Erstad has started in Bourn’s absence and done an admirable job but clearly isn’t worth adding.

Projected Return: Saturday vs. St. Louis

Alex Rodriguez (Quads) – Although he will rejoin the team today, Rodriguez will not play tonight. The Yanks have said they want to be cautious with their 3B so he might even miss the weekend series at Cleveland with a quad strain.

Fantasy Impact: With Arod out, Morgan Ensberg will continue to start at 3B for the Yanks.

Projected Return: Saturday or Sunday at Cleveland

Scott Rolen (Finger) – Rolen is finished up a Class A rehab assignment and it appears he might be activated off the DL as early as today.

Fantasy Impact: Don’t expect much from Rolen early as he works his shakes off the rust. In time he could be a serviceable third base option hitting in an under the radar Blue Jays lineup.

Projected Return: Friday at KC

Gary Sheffield (Shoulder) – Sheff who has been battling shoulder problems throughout April and has missed the last 4 games could be back as soon as Friday.

Fantasy Impact: The Tigers offense is scorching right now putting up 19 runs on Wednesday then following that up with 8 more today. When healthy, Sheffield should thrive in Detroit’s potent lineup.

Projected Return: Friday vs. LA Angels

Moises Alou (Hernia) – Alou has been raking in rehab and more importantly has not experienced any setbacks. He received 7 at bats in an extended spring training game, an indication that he is very close.

Fantasy Impact: When healthy Alou is a force at the plate and should be a solid fantasy contributor hitting 5th in a strong Mets’ lineup. Alou’s return will send fantasy darling Angel Pagan back to the bench.

Projected Return: Monday vs. Pittsburgh

See You Next Week…

Alfonso Soriano (Calf) – Soriano will not rehab and instead will just needs to pass a series of physical tests. He is targeting a return the first day he is eligible to come off the DL – May 1st.

Fantasy Impact: Given the strong play of Ronny Cedeno and Ryan Theriot in the infield coupled with Soriano’s return to the outfield, Mark Derosa should return to a part-time role. Derosa has played well enough to be a viable fantasy option but will revert to being a spot starter and super utility man come May 1st.

Projected Return: May 1 vs. Milwaukee

Shane Victorino (Calf) – Victorino is currently on a class A rehab assignment and has not experienced any setbacks. The plan is for Victorino to play in a AA game on Friday and then a AAA game Saturday or Sunday before returning to the majors early next weeks.

Fantasy Impact: Jayson Werth has filled in nicely in center and has been hot over his last 4 games going 6/19 with 2 HR, 6 runs scored and 3 RBI. Once Victorino returns, Werth will platoon with Geoff Jenkins in right field and no longer receive regular at bats. If he were to win the starting role in right field outright, Werth may be an intriguing under the radar fantasy option playing in a great hitter's park and batting in a powerful Philly lineup. 

Projected Return: Tuesday vs. San Diego

Mike Lowell (Thumb) - Lowell took batting practice Tuesday and will begin a AAA rehab assignment on Friday. He is expected to return early next week. 

Fantasy Impact: Jed Lowrie and Sean Casey have seen some additional playing time in Lowell's absence. Lowrie has looked good since his call up, hitting .350 with 4 runs scored and 5 RBI in 20 ABs. The 24 year old will likely be sent back to the minors once Lowell returns; however, his minor league numbers and short stint in the majors have shown that he will eventually be a productive big leaguer. He projects to be a Dustin Pedroia-type .300 hitter with more power. 

Projected Return: Tuesday vs Toronto

Getting Closer...

Andy Laroche (Thumb) - Laroche, who has been out since March 7th with a torn ligament in his right thumb, went 1/6 in a AA game and has not experienced any setbacks in his rehab.

Fantasy Impact: The Dodgers offense has been weak in the early going, so you can bet Joe Torre is excited about getting the highly touted young third baseman back in the lineup. He should start at third base for LA immediately upon his return sending Nomar Garciaparra to the bench. 

Projected Return: Mid-May

On The Shelf

Eric Chavez (Back) – Chavez was moved to the 60 Day DL but his target return date of late May remains intact.

Fantasy Impact: Chavez hasn’t contributed much since 2005 and will most likely be a stop gap option at best this year as he fights his way back from a back injury.

Projected Return: Late May

Suspension Updates

Mike Cameron – Cameron who is currently serving a 25 game suspension for stimulant use will begin a class A rehab assignment today and is scheduled to return Tuesday. Brewers manager Ned Yost said that Cameron will start in centerfield and bat second upon his return.

Fantasy Impact: Cameron showed 20 homerun power in cavernous Petco Park and should benefit greatly from a move to the hitter friendly confines in Milwaukee. He will hit in a choice spot in the potent Brewers' lineup with Rickie Weeks in front of him and big bats in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder hitting behind him. Cameron could be in line for a fine season in Milwaukee and looks to be a fine fantasy option given his combination of power and speed.

Projected Return: Tuesday at Chicago Cubs

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