Friday March 28th, 2014

A stiff neck will prevent Yu Darvish from making his scheduled start on Opening Day for the Rangers.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Fantasy baseball 2014 draft prep: Player rankings, position primers, burning questions and more

Yu Darvish will start the year on the DL.

The Rangers ace has a stiff neck that forced him to miss what would have been his last spring start. He underwent tests earlier this week, which thankfully, for the Rangers, Darvish and his fantasy owners, showed no structural damage. He's slated to play catch for the first time since the stiffness appeared last Saturday, but he will start the season on the DL. Given that the Rangers can make his DL stint retroactive, though, he may not even miss a start. He simply won't make his scheduled start on Opening Day. Keep an eye on this in case it gets any worse, but assuming his throwing session on Saturday goes well, Darvish remains an elite fantasy starter.

PRINTABLE DRAFT SHEETS: Top 300 | Rankings by position

Doug Fister likely out for a few weeks.

Fister was removed from a minor league start on Thursday because of a lat strain. He was starting in that minor league game is because he had been previously set back by elbow inflammation. The two injuries will almost certainly conspire to keep Fister out until mid- or late April. If you still have a draft on the horizon, don't let this change your stance on Fister too much. There's no indication that he'll miss more than two or three starts, and he's still an extremely valuable pitcher if he takes the ball 28 or 29 times. Those of you in deeper leagues who didn't already have Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan on your radar, however, should remedy that. Both will be in the rotation to start the season and have value in deeper formats. The conventional wisdom says that eventually Jordan will remain in the rotation and Roark will move to the bullpen, but if I could only have one I'd want Roark. He was a real asset across 53.2 innings for the Nationals last year, and consistently put up K/9 better than seven at Triple-A Syracuse. Jordan, meanwhile, has never been much of a strikeout pitcher.

Mat Latos expected to miss the start of the season.

Latos had surgery to repair cartilage in his left knee back on Valentine's Day, but the nominal ace still isn't quite ready to take the mound in games that mean something. The Reds don't expect him to miss much time and are aiming for a return date of April 13 or 14. If he stays on that schedule, the injury will cost him just two starts. Like Fister, it shouldn't affect how you value him very much.

Jose Reyes dealing with hamstring strain.

An MRI performed earlier this week on Reyes' ailing hamstring revealed only a minor strain, so it appears he has avoided too much trouble for now. The Blue Jays are still a bit unsure as to whether he will play Opening Day, but all signs point to him being out there, leading off and playing shortstop. Still, understand the risks here. Reyes is 30 years old now, and has always derived much of his fantasy value from his speed. Hamstring injuries have a way of lingering, and he was limited to 93 games last year because of knee and ankle injuries. That makes three separate leg injuries for him in less than a year. Reyes is still great when healthy, but it's extremely discouraging to see him already a bit banged up, even if it doesn't cost him any time on the field in the regular season.

Jean Segura plays catch, shoulder responds well.

Segura has been dealing with shoulder soreness the last week or so, putting his status for Opening Day in doubt. The Brewers' speedster played catch on Thursday, and all indications were that it went well. While the team still isn't saying that he's a go for Opening Day, chances are strong that he will avoid a stint on the DL.

Matt Kemp will start the season on the DL.

It's little surprise that Kemp's surgically repaired ankle will force him to the DL to kick off the season. Since the Dodgers can backdate what they hope is just a 15-day trip, he's eligible to return April 4. However, they're not quite sure that he'll be able to hit that timetable. He's currently not with the Dodgers but at the team's training facility in Phoenix, getting in more games to test the ankle. While the Dodgers don't expect him to miss too much time, it remains to be seen if he'll run as much when he does make his return. Few players being taken after the fifth round in an average draft have as high a ceiling as Kemp, but that assumes that he's the same guy he was before the injury.

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