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You know a player is getting old when his manager makes statements like, "So we're going to ease him back into it. As far as playing third base, I don't have a date for it yet. He'll play soon, though."
That's exactly what New York Yankees boss Joe Girardi said about his decision to use Alex Rodriguez primarily as a designated hitter for the near future. The soon to be 35-year-old third baseman has been dealing with either a strained hip or a sore groin, depending on who you ask. He missed the last four games completely, and he won't be used at third base for at least a few more days.
Luckily for fantasy owners it doesn't matter what position he plays as long as he's in the lineup. Yet the injury may be hurting his power and speed. Rodriguez only has eight homers and two steals so far.
Another third baseman, Chipper Jones, is feeling the effects of age. Jones has been dealing with a number of aches and pains in 2010, and most recently he's missed games with a sore finger. Jones' frustration has led to retirement talk.
Meanwhile 35-year-old Scott Rolen has seemingly found the fountain of youth (Hey Ponce de Leon, it was in Cincinnati the whole time. Who knew?). Rolen is posting Top 10 third base stats so far. His injury history isn't encouraging, but fantasy owners should keep him in the lineup as long as he's healthy.
If you're riding Rodriguez or Rolen (or if you're one of the poor saps stuck with Jones), back them up with a younger option. St. Louis's David Freese is available in more than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues and his .318 batting average is fourth among third basemen with at least 200 at-bats. Or take a chance on the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez, who was called up Wednesday (to see where Alvarez ranks next week, check out RotoExperts Xclusive Edge Rankings). His BA might not break any records, but he could provide double-digit homers through the rest of the season.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Another 30-plus third baseman is on the mend. Ramirez took batting practice on Wednesday for the first time since landing on the Disabled List on June 8. Reports say that Ramirez impressed in the cage, and it appears that he'll be ready to return when he is eligible on June 23. If, for some reason, Ramirez is available in your league (66 percent owned), he's worth a pickup. He's adjusted his bat grip, added a new pad, and has gotten the necessary rest. If you're desperate, Ramirez is a worthwhile buy-low trade target.
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
According to Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., Rollins will need to go through a full nine-inning game before they call him up from his minor league rehab assignment. Rollins played seven innings Wednesday, and he could return by the weekend series against Minnesota. As the Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb pointed out on Xperts Edge last Sunday, Rollins is a catalyst for the Phillies offense, and part of the team's lack of runs can be attributed to the shortstop's absence. Once Rollins is healthy, there are plenty of reasons to rely on him as a fantasy shortstop. For his career, Rollins hits nearly 20 points higher post-All Star break and last year he hit 18 of his 21 home runs in June through September.
Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit Tigers
From the Under-30 Department, Jackson left the Tigers' June 13 game with back spasms and could be out until Saturday. The speedy outfielder should avoid the DL, but it might be time for Fantasy owners to try to move him anyway. Jackson hit .364 in April, .297 in May, and is hitting a mere .220 in June. At the same time his batting average on balls in play was about .500 in April and close to .400 in May. As that statistic anomaly averages itself out, it's no surprise that he has fallen off his torrid pace. The back spasms might slow him down a little bit, but they aren't the reason for his dip in production.
Chad Billingsley, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers
On the heels of a fantastic May where Billingsley won four games and maintained a 3.00 ERA, the Dodgers starter is headed to the 15-day DL with a strained groin. It's considered a mid-level strain, and the team is hopeful to have him back as soon as he's eligible. Vicente Padilla will return from the DL just in time to replace Billingsley in the rotation. Padilla will start Saturday, which will bump Carlos Monasterios back in the rotation. Neither starter is a particularly attractive Fantasy option. Monasterios pitched well out of the bullpen at the beginning of the season, but in his four starts since May 28, he's allowed nine earned runs in 18.2 innings and has walked seven while striking out six. Padilla had a 6.64 ERA before hitting the DL at the end of April.
Erick Aybar, SS, Los Angeles Angels
The Angels infield took another major hit this week with Aybar going down with a meniscus injury in his left knee and utility man Maicer Izturis landing on the DL with a left forearm strain. Aybar provided a lot of Fantasy value with 11 stolen bases and 41 runs scored. As of Thursday, the Angels hoped that Aybar's injury would not require a DL stint. However it remains a real possibility and the team may be forced to acquire a shortstop. The injuries forced the underachieving Brandon Wood to play shortstop, and Howie Kendrick to hit leadoff for the first time in his career.
Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox
An MRI revealed no structural damage to Peavy's right shoulder, but he was bumped from his Thursday start and the team is calling him "day-to-day." There is still a chance that he bounces back and pitches on Friday or Saturday, but a shoulder injury for a pitcher is never a good thing. This is a situation that Fantasy owners will need to monitor closely over the weekend.
It doesn't matter how old the player is, sometimes injuries just happen. These guys also visited the trainer this week.
While it's true that Jacoby Ellsbury has fractured ribs, it's also true that the fractures are so small they could only be detected by an MRI. The latest test revealed five broken ribs, but the Red Sox still hope to have him back before the All-Star break. ... Jeremy Hermida is also enjoying fractured ribs. With all the injuries, Boston called up Daniel Nava. He crushed a grand slam on the first major league pitch he faced and is hitting .357 through his first four games. He's certainly worth a free agent move in AL-only leagues. ... Albert Pujols is fine after taking an errant throw to the neck on Monday night. ... Tim Lincecum isn't expected to miss any time after being drilled in the shoulder by a Miguel Tejada line drive. The Giants ace left the game after the incident, but later said he was shocked by it more than anything. ... Unlike Aramis Ramirez, New York Yankee Brett Gardner hasn't had any problems dealing with his thumb injury. Gardner will probably wear a brace on his thumb for the remainder of the season, but he doesn't expect it to be a problem unless the pain increases. At this point, Fantasy owners can expect continued production from the outfielder. ... The Tampa Bay Rays have activated shortstop Jason Bartlett from the DL. The move will send Reid Brignac back into a timeshare with Sean Rodriguez. Brignac had been a solid source of BA and runs in Bartlett's place. ... Troy Tulowitzki's Fantasy owners can rest easy. The Rockies shortstop returned to the starting lineup Tuesday after missing two games with a strained groin. ... Atlanta Braves starter Jair Jurrjens is looking at a late June return at the earliest. Manager Bobby Cox told reporters that he needs at least two more rehab starts. Jurrjens, who is rehabbing a strained left hamstring, got knocked around in a 2.2 inning Triple-A rehab appearance. ... The Oakland A's plan on slowly increasing starter Brett Anderson's workload, which means Fantasy owners will have to wait longer for his return. Anderson is scheduled to throw for the first time since being diagnosed with elbow tendinitis. ... Phillies starter J.A. Happ says his left forearm is pain-free, but he's still not close to being ready to return. Happ will make a third rehab start on Friday, and the team hopes to see him pitch more effectively than he did in the first two. ... Arizona catcher Miguel Montero is back from his right knee injury and is hitting in the middle part of the Diamondbacks order. He's still available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues. ... Colorado closer Huston Street could pitch as early as Sunday. His velocity broke into the low-90s earlier this week, and it appears that he is finally healthy. Fantasy owners should hang on to Manny Corpas as a precautionary measure. ... Reports from Mets camp say that Carlos Beltran is still running with a limp. That's not much of a surprise, and I think he's still five to six weeks away at best. ... The Orioles shut down second baseman Brian Roberts from baseball activities for two weeks. It will be at least four to six weeks before he can return, which could be good news considering that some people thought he might miss the season. ... Josh Beckett continues to make progress in his throwing program, although he won't be back in the rotation any time soon. Expect the Red Sox ace to be out through the All-Star break. ... Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal was placed on the bereavement list on Thursday and will miss a few games.
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