The Rockies continue to struggle on the road, both mentally and physically. Sunday, they closed a tough road series against the Diamondbacks in the worst way, losing 6-1 to seal their most lopsided series loss of the season (the overall score in the three-game sweep was 22-2) and seeing two of their players, Carlos Gonzalez and Roy Oswalt, leave the game early. Oswalt will go on the disabled list with an injured hamstring, joining Troy Tulowitzki and Dexter Fowler, while Gonzalez remains day-to-day. Unfortunately, the Rockies won't return to their mile-high home until after the All-Star break.
On to this week's latest injury news:
• OF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies: Gonzalez sustained two minor injuries last week. On Thursday, he strained his upper back and left the game early. Then on Sunday, he took an awkward swing and injured the middle finger on his right hand. X-rays came back negative, and CarGo remains day-to-day for now. However, fantasy owners should worry that these frequent minor injuries (bruised foot, leg cramps) will develop into something serious at some point. Monitor him closely.
• 1B Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies: Howard has only played in 151 games since returning from his torn Achilles tendon in 2011 and has been dealing with soreness in his left knee this season. It finally got to the point where he can no longer play through it. The Phillies put him on the DL on July 6, and after an MRI two days later, the team announced that Howard will be out for an extended period of time for surgery on a torn meniscus. The Phillies are hoping that Howard will have a successful procedure and rehab and return to the lineup in six to 10 weeks. However, that timeline will likely depend on whether or not the Phillies are still in contention in September. If they're out of the playoff hunt, we may not see Howard again until 2014.
• OF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers: Fantasy owners should have known that Kemp's injury risk was one of the downsides when they drafted him. But it's getting a little ridiculous, as Kemp hits the DL for a second time in this injury-plagued season. His hamstring caused him to miss 24 games earlier this season, and now his sore left shoulder has him on the shelf again. Kemp left the Dodgers' July 5 game early with pain in the joint where the collarbone meets the shoulder and received a cortisone shot to relieve the pain. The Dodgers hope rest will help the joint. Regardless of when Kemp returns, he's officially a 2013 fantasy disaster.
• OF Ryan Braun and 3B Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers gain a bat but lose a bat all in one fell swoop. Braun rejoins the lineup after a DL stint for a thumb injury, but Ramirez returns to the DL with a recurring knee injury. Ramirez originally sprained his knee during spring training, then re-injured it mid-April, leading to a month-long DL stint. When he returned to the lineup, Ramirez recognized that the knee was preventing him from hitting powerfully and moving around quickly in the field. The condition recently worsened, prompting another stay on the 15-day DL. Thanks to the All-Star break, Ramirez hopefully shouldn't miss many games, assuming he stays for the minimum amount of time. But the bigger question remains: How much longer will his knee give him problems? It's clear that he hasn't been at full speed since his initial injury during spring training, and he may continue to only be intermittently healthy throughout the season. Fantasy owners should watch him closely.
Braun, who was struggling with a thumb injury, was only available if needed off the bench on Monday night, but should return to the starting lineup July 9. Fantasy owners, take note: Braun did admit that his thumb is not 100 percent yet, and he doesn't expect it to be for the remainder of the year. This could impact his power when hitting, but he needs to be in every starting lineup regardless.
• OF Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox: Victorino is an aggressive player, which benefits the Red Sox, but not his fantasy owners; it's becoming more apparent that because of his constant, nagging injuries, he's not a dependable everyday player for a fantasy lineup. He sat out of Sunday's and Monday's games with a sore hamstring, and he continues to nurse a sore lower back, which regularly keeps him out of games. Victorino's hitting .285 and has stolen nine bases this season, but he only has hit three home runs. He works as a backup outfielder on a roster, but not much more than that.
• 1B Lance Berkman, Texas Rangers: Berkman was placed on the 15-day DL after suffering an injury to his hip while running to first base on Saturday. The 37-year-old has been battling recurring knee problems this year, which recently required a cortisone shot for pain management. Berkman hasn't contributed much fantasy-wise, as he's only hit .176 since the beginning of June. "Either [my hitting is] going to come back as the knee gets stronger," Berkman said after Saturday's game, "or I'll see you guys in the stands."
• P Wei-Yin Chen, Baltimore Orioles: Chen, who's been out for nearly two months with an oblique injury, is expected to return to the Orioles lineup Wednesday against the Rangers. His rehab starts have been successful; most recently, he threw 89 pitches with no earned runs. Fantasy owners should feel comfortable starting him immediately.