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Whoever made up the saying, "no news is good news," obviously didn't play fantasy baseball. No news is horrible news, especially when it comes to injuries. When Andre Ethier broke his pinky in batting practice last Saturday, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said, "My guess is we're going to wait a couple of days." Ultimately, the outfielder landed on the 15-day Disabled List, but the two days prior to that decision were agonizing for fantasy owners. This is a guy who is an early candidate for NL MVP. A guy who has moved many fantasy teams to the top of the standings. We need our Ethier news, and we need it now!
Well, hooray. Ethier is now on the DL, so those fantasy owners can stash him on the bench and check out the RotoExperts Xclusive Edge Rankings (plug alert! plug alert!) to find the best possible replacement for the next couple of weeks. The only problem is that nobody has any idea when Ethier's pinky will be healthy enough to play. It could be two weeks, or it could be seven like Coco Crisp.
(Side note: Is there anything more annoying than a pinky injury? It's basically the least important group of bones for a baseball player. Even the pinky toe is more important, because a broken toe would kill every time he tried to run. Players barely even use their pinkies to hold a bat or a ball, yet broken pinkies can cost them 20-30 games. However, hitting 90 MPH fastballs as hard as you can is not ideal for fractured fingers, so unless he pulls a Ronnie Lot, we'll have to deal with Ethier's absence).
A specialist recommended that Ethier should not have surgery and just let the fracture heal on its own. Therein lies the problem, because different people heal at different rates and there are only a few minor steps you can take to speed up the process. So Ethier owners will just have to take a wait-and-see approach (my best guess is three-to-four weeks) and remember, "No news is good news."
In the meantime the Dodgers recalled Xavier Paul from Triple-A, who started in right field on Tuesday and Wednesday. Paul is hitting .278 with three steals in 11 games with the Dodgers. In 20-games at Triple-A Albuquerque, he's batting .388 with four homers and three steals. He's a solid addition to NL-only fantasy rosters and is a name to watch if Ethier's injury ends up being worse than expected.
Josh Beckett, SP, Boston Red Sox
Last week, I had a gut feeling that Beckett was headed for a DL stint; it just took a little longer for him to get there. The DL warning signs for pitchers are easier to notice than field players. When a pitcher is struggling and has any type of minor injury, there's a good chance he'll end up on the DL to work out the kinks. Beckett will miss at least two starts due to his lower back strain and Tim Wakefield will take his spot in the rotation. Wakefield isn't a great fantasy start this Sunday when the Red Sox travel to Philadelphia, but it looks like his next start will be at Fenway against the light-hitting Kansas City Royals.
Trevor Hoffman, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
There isn't any injury news to report on Hoffman ... yet. The Brewers closer has five saves and five blown saves to go along with a 13.15 earned run average. He sat out the team's two-game trip to Pittsburgh this week to work on his command. There is plenty of speculation that Hoffman will lose his job as closer, but another possibility is a trip to the 15-day DL due to "dead arm." The move would allow the 42-year old to rest his arm and work on mechanics. If Hoffman lands on the DL or just loses the job, Carlos Villanueva is the most likely replacement. Another option is LaTroy Hawkins, who is currently on the DL with shoulder fatigue (retroactive to May 7).
Grady Sizemore, OF, Cleveland Indians
Fantasy managers who drafted Sizemore and hoped he'd bounce back after an injury-plagued 2009 got some bad news this week when the Indians placed him on the 15-day DL with a bruised left knee. Sizemore had some problems with the same knee earlier in the season and the team is running some tests to see if it's more than just a bone bruise. There are rumors swirling that his knee might require surgery, and although they're just rumors, Sizemore's fantasy owners should prepare for the worst (honestly, Sizemore's been such a disappointment that any excuse to pull him out of your lineup might be a good one). Former first round draft pick Trevor Crowe is starting for Sizemore in centerfield and batting leadoff. Crowe has collected seven hits and two stolen bases in his five games since being called up from Triple-A Columbus. He's a good fantasy option for AL-only leagues, and could be useful in deeper mixed leagues as well.
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS/2B, Cleveland Indians
Part of the reason why Crowe is leading off for the Indians is because they lost Cabrera to a broken arm this week. Cabrera fractured a bone in his forearm during a collision with infielder Jhonny Peralta, and it appears that the shortstop will be out until after the All-Star break. Cabrera did have surgery on the arm, and it's expected to heal completely. The Indians called Jason Donald up from Triple-A and started him at shortstop immediately. Donald is a disciplined hitter who was batting .281 in the minors with a .398 on-base percentage. He's a must-add in AL-only leagues and should also be considered in deeper mixed leagues.
Jorge Posada, C, New York Yankees
An MRI on Posada's injured right foot revealed a hairline fracture and the former All-Star will miss three to four weeks. Francisco Cervelli has stepped in nicely as a replacement for Posada and is batting .373 with 17 runs batted in, in 67 at-bats. Fantasy owners should not expect this type of production to continue from Cervelli, but they can trust the he won't hurt them while Posada sits. Cervelli is still available in 91 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but there are also a few other catchers that are widely available. Mets catcher Rod Barajas can be had in more than 50 percent of leagues, and he's batting .270 with nine home runs. Barajas hit 19 homers for Toronto last year and can provide power numbers similar to Posada. Another name to remember is Miguel Montero of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Montero could be back in early June before Posada returns, and the popular preseason pick is available in 56 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Nick Johnson, 1B/DH, New York Yankees
Johnson had surgery on his wrist this week and he won't be back until late-July at the earliest. The news raises questions about the future of the Yankees' DH spot, especially with Posada's injury, Nick Swisher's bicep strain, and Marcus Thames spraining his ankle (DL not expected for Thames). Juan Miranda was recalled from the minors late last week and will get some time at both first base and DH. He doesn't have much fantasy value, even in AL-only leagues.
With all the injuries in MLB, trainers should send the used wraps and ice bags to BP to help clog that leaking oil pipe. Here's a rundown of other dings and bruises.
Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson is hoping to return to the starting lineup by the end of May. Granderson participated in some outfield drills this week. ... Adam Dunn returned to the Nationals lineup on Wednesday after experiencing flu-like symptoms and undergoing a minor surgical procedure. Even though the situation is very mysterious, there are no indications that Dunn will miss any more time. ... Maybe Chase Utley and Dunn ate dinner at the same bad restaurant, because the Phillies second baseman missed Tuesday and Wednesday with flu-like symptoms. His fantasy owners shouldn't panic, as this appears to only be an illness. ...The "foot injury" that triggered the confrontation between Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez and manager Fredi Gonzalez isn't expected to affect the All-Star moving forward. ... Bad news for anyone holding out for a Brandon Webb return. The Arizona Diamondback starter visited a rehab facility this week and doctors determined that his arm slot was too high. Webb will have to retrain his arm slot and told reporters that during his rehab, "I've been almost wasting my time throwing bad." ... Milton Bradley has returned to the Seattle Mariners after undergoing therapy for mental and emotional stressors. ... Manny Ramirez suffered a toe injury prior to the Dodgers' Wednesday game. Ramirez and the team are hopeful he can return to the starting lineup Thursday after an X-ray showed no significant damage. ... Ramirez's teammate Rafael Furcal (strained hamstring) is feeling better and could go on a minor league rehab assignment this weekend. The Dodgers want him to play in one minor league game before returning to the team. ... Huston Street (shoulder) strained his groin during a May 15 appearance with Double-A Tulsa. The closer's DL stint started March 26 and this groin injury will likely move his 2010 Rockies debut into June. The good news for fantasy owners is that he didn't aggravate his existing injury. ... Orioles injured second baseman Brian Roberts ended up in a Baltimore area hospital this week and was diagnosed with pneumonia. Roberts was supposed to start a rehab assignment in Sarasota, but due to the illness, that probably will not happen until next week. ... Boston Red Sox outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury (ribs) and Mike Cameron (abdominal strain) both played for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs on Thursday. If Ellsbury comes away from the game unscathed, he'll be activated. Cameron is struggling with lingering soreness and is still a few rehab games away from making his Red Sox return. ... Phillies ace Roy Halladay has already pitched 71.1 innings in 2010 and the team is afraid of overuse. They plan on monitoring his pitch count closely during his next few starts.
Need accurate and up-to-date daily and weekly player rankings? Check out RotoExperts' Xclusive Edge Rankings. Have injury questions? E-mail Nate at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @RotoExpertNate.