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Under The Knife: Rivera throwing, but don't expect him back this year

On a team that was losing, a quote like "I'm not coming back until I'm 100 percent healthy" would be spun as selfish. I'm not faulting Joey Votto, who admitted he was doing too much in trying to come back (a phrase that screams "good teammate"), but it's one of those where context is everything. Injuries are one of the things that can make or break the chemistry of a team, but again, it's just about context and storyline. As Rany Jazayerli explains in detail, chemistry is usually a deus ex machina, a reason in absence of fact. The fact is that injuries are fact and they're something that a team can do something about. The ones that are worried about chemistry can continue watching in October.

Powered by Johnny Pesky, a man who really lived, on to the injuries:

Yes, Rivera is throwing long toss. No, he's not wearing a bulky brace while doing it. Simmer down, Yankee fans. There's very little chance that Rivera will return this season, as Brian Cashman has said repeatedly. I know what you're thinking, but stick with the concept that Rivera's rehab is going well, that he'll be ready in plenty of time for 2013, and that the team is doing well despite missing Rivera. Rivera's knee shouldn't be an impediment to anything by the opening of spring training.

Bautista has begun hitting ... off a tee. It's not what Jays fans want to hear, but it's progress. That Bautista was able to make it through a couple sessions of hitting without his wrist swelling is a definite positive. The Jays are taking their time with Bautista, knowing that they're out of any race, but needing Bautista to come back and show that this isn't going to be a lingering problem. Since power is Bautista's game and power is what's usually most affected by this kind of injury, he's not going to put up 10 to 12 more home runs, even if he comes back quickly. That will put his season numbers on a downtrend and leave him out of the first round of most drafts next year. If Bautista comes back and shows any kind of power and needs no other off-season procedures, push him up your draft boards. Projections don't understand injuries and will undervalue him.

I talk about protective equipment a lot, but sometimes the best protection is a functional brain. Pitchers reaching out to field a ball barehanded take what they get, like Wilson did on Monday. Wilson left the game as the bruise got swollen and painful, but indications are that he'll be able to make his next start. Wilson's hit a bit of a wall lately, as the Angels are still recovering from a turnaround game by the Rangers that turned a possible series sweep into a relaunch. If Wilson got a couple extra days or was skipped, the rest couldn't hurt as the Angels fight for a wild-card spot.

Every player wants to help his team. Every player wants to go out on his own terms. Berkman is feeling those chances slipping away as his rehab continues. Berkman hasn't had a setback with his knee, but the pain and inflammation isn't the progress he wants to see. Until he gets to a point where he can run and play without the knee becoming more problematic, he's not going to be able to be activated before roster expansion. Once we get to that point, things change. A pure pinch-hitter isn't taking up room on the roster and taking a chance on a guy in the starting roster isn't as costly if he needs to come out. Cardinals fans might remember how the team dealt with Mark McGwire at the end, when his plantar fasciitis tested Tony La Russa's creativity. It's not there yet for Berkman, but it might not be the worst idea for Mike Matheny to look at some game logs either.

Bailey might be a bit glad he's been in Pawtucket. Not really -- no player wants to be hurt or have an extended rehab, no matter how much nonsense is going on with the team. Bailey was finally activated on Tuesday, after six appearances with Pawtucket (AAA). Bailey's thumb hasn't shown any issues, as he's passed every test the Red Sox medical staff and opposing hitters threw at him. Bailey won't immediately take the closer role, but it shouldn't be too long before he gets the saves. He had a walk and a strikeout in a 1/3 inning of work. There's very little chance of recurrence, so if you're in one of the 70 percent of leagues where he's available, you can put him in your roster with some confidence.

The Tigers were excited at one point not long ago that they could get a late season boost from a return by Martinez. His surgery to repair his sprained knee wasn't as extensive, but the rehab hasn't pushed forward the way that had been hoped. He's not ready now and it's going to be tough to get him on a rehab assignment. It's not necessary, of course, but the Tigers just aren't sure what they'd get. With September roster expansion, they could let Martinez try or they could tune him up with play at their minor league complex, but mostly, it's feeling like the timeline of the season and the timeline of Martinez's rehab aren't matching up. He's going to keep working and as long as the Tigers stay in playoff contention, the chance will remain in play. If you've stashed him on your fantasy roster this long, you might as well keep hanging on to the hope.

Drew Storen was on the Jim Rome Show and the media-savvy closer did his best to blast reports that the Nationals aren't on board with the Stephen Strasburg shutdown. They may not like it, but the Nats at least understand the good intentions and long term perspective ... Josh Beckett looks utterly lost. Worse, he's looked this way for most of the season with no changes from coaching ... Pablo Sandoval was activated. His strained hamstring might limit his running slightly in the short term. If you were counting on him for steals and triples, well, you need a new hobby ... The Nats are due to make a decision on IanDesmond's next step on Wednesday. Signs point to a short rehab stint ... Dee Gordon isn't swinging a bat yet, so getting him back before roster expansion is unlikely ... The A's pushed Brandon Inge to the DL after his shoulder dislocated a few days ago. They expect him back around the minimum ... The Jays are protecting EdwinEncarnacion's heel by playing him more at DH. There's some rumblings that there's more going on here so I'm keeping a close eye on the situation ... Yasmani Grandal is ready to head out on a rehab assignment. The pace is slow as the Padres have no reason to rush their young catcher ... Nate Schierholtz has a broken toe. That could cost him as much as a month, forcing another shuffle in the Phillies OF ... Vance Worley will need to have the bone chips taken out of his elbow, but the Phils aren't going to shut him down. The issue is manageable and he's not doing any damage right now. The situation doesn't require more time than the off-season will already give, so this is a reasonable play ... The Orioles are shifting Brian Matusz to the pen to work as a LOOGY. The whispers about "coachability" are accompanying the move ... Brad Penny hits the DL, as his shoulder isn't holding up under the workload. Its the same issue he's had over the past couple seasons ... Dallas Braden is going to need more surgery on his shoulder. His season is over and maybe more ... Mike Carp hits the DL for a third time in this injury-riddled season. This time it's a hip flexor strain ... Eric Chavez is on a great run for the Yankees, but no one is too surprised. "He can still play," an advance scout that recently saw Chavez told me, "but he's going to get exposed quickly. He can't stay healthy playing nearly every day, but he's still got the swing and isn't terrible defensively" ... This is bad, but I'd heard rumblings about this as far back as January. There's more issues in Boston than just Bobby Valentine, though he could end up the first manager fired once the season is done.

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