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Remember those obnoxious ketchup commercials from the late 80s? You know, the ads where Joey Tribbiani leans an open ketchup bottle off the roof ledge of his apartment building, then coolly runs down the stairs, buys a hot dog on the sidewalk below and smoothly snags the freefalling ketchup on the fresh dog. The vendor and some mildly attractive 80s girl ooh and aah over his condiment prowess.
Hey, can someone tell me how he stops the ketchup from pouring? Wouldn't it just drip all over the sidewalk? That commercial still infuriates me.
Anyway, the slogan in those ads was "Good things happen to those who wait." Fantasy owners with the backbone to draft Cliff Lee and Jose Reyes look as cool as Matt LeBlanc in a pair of acid washed jeans right now. Now that those two have fully recovered from preseason injury, they are delivering top tier fantasy performances at their respective positions.
Meanwhile, another Seattle pitcher and Mets hitter are slowly but surely working their way back from injuries. Erik Bedard and Carlos Beltran were drafted in nearly every fantasy league, but their owners are still waiting for the "Good things" that Tribbiani/LeBlanc promised them. It appears that both are entering the final stages of rehabilitation, but the tasty rewards may be a month or more away.
Erik Bedard, SP, Seattle Mariners
Lee's last five starts (3-1, three complete games, 34 strikeouts) have Bedard owners hoping that he can perform similar to his Seattle staffmate. It's highly unlikely that Bedard can be anywhere near as dominant as Lee, or is it? In 15 starts last season, Bedard posted a 2.82 earned run average, a 1.19 walks and hits per innings pitched, and 9.76 strikeouts per nine innings.
On Monday, Bedard threw 52 pitches in a rookie league game. The lefty's surgically repaired pitching shoulder felt fine afterward, and more important, his fastball approached the mid-90s (93 to be exact). The Mariners have scheduled another rookie league outing for Bedard this Saturday, and hope to get him up to 70 pitches. Barring any unforeseen problems, he'll then move to the more competitive minor league level for a few rehab starts. It's expected that the Mariners will use the full 30 days allowed by Major League Baseball for minor league rehabilitation stints.
In reality, Bedard is more than a month away from taking the mound for the big league club, but now is the time to sign him. He's only owned in 40 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues, but that number will increase as his official rehab assignment progresses.
Carlos Beltran, OF, New York Mets
By the time I finish writing this, Beltran will have one official rehab assignment game under his belt. This news will certainly plant visions of Reyes in Beltran owner's heads. The Mets, much like they have been with Beltran, were extremely cautious with Reyes. They could have tried to rush him back by opening day; instead they let him recover slowly and held him out until April 10. When he came back, he was cautious on the basepaths (five Stolen Base attempts in 19 April games). Once May hit, Reyes got the green light. He has swiped 15 bags since May 7.
This simply will not happen with Beltran. There is a big difference between the chronic knee problems that Beltran has and the torn hamstring that Reyes suffered. Beltran could have undergone microfracture surgery in the offseason, which would have effectively ended his season. Instead he opted for a lesser procedure that would enable him to return in 2010. He'll be able to play on the knee, but it isn't expected to be 100 percent for a while. Beltran will most likely play the rest of the season with a brace.
Aside from the lack of speed on the basepaths, the knee may also limit his availability in the field. That's obviously a bad situation for a guy on a National League club, especially a club that has three other productive outfielders. Beltran is owned in more than 60 percent of leagues, so a lot of people have faith in him. He may be back by mid-July, but he's not going to be the five-category OF that we've grown accustomed too.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Chicago Cubs
Not only is Ramirez coming back from injury, he's also trying to break out of a season-long slump. The Cubs moved his activation back to the weekend as he continues to work on a new batting grip that removes pressure from the sore area of his thumb. Reports about his swing have been encouraging. Ramirez is certainly a player who can be productive in the second half, and is a good buy-low trade target; especially with the lack of fantasy production at third base this season. If he's on the free agent wire, he's without a doubt worth a pick up.
Another interesting aspect to Ramirez's activation is that the Cubs will keep 12 pitchers when Ramirez comes back, meaning a position player will be moved.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies
If third base is considered a thin fantasy position then shortstop is Peter Crouch (sorry, obligatory World Cup joke). Tulowitzki's six-to-eight week absence has sent both the Rockies and fantasy owners scrambling for replacements. Colorado has slid Clint Barmes over from second base, and that's an OK move for NL-only fantasy managers. Mixed leaguers should consider other options. The Angels' Erick Aybar would be a decent option, but he may be headed for the 15-day Disabled List with a knee injury. However, Aybar's DL trip would be a minimum stay, and he's a player to watch when he's back in the lineup. For a temporary fix, try Washington's Ian Desmond. He's not setting the world on fire, but he won't hurt fantasy teams, and he's available in 80 percent of leagues. (For more insight on short stop stats, check the RotoExperts' Xclusive Edge Rankings).
The waiting is the hardest part for some of these injured players ...
Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford left Thursday's game with shoulder soreness. Ben Zobrist took his spot in the lineup. ... Red hot Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton sat out Wednesday with tightness in his hamstring. He's not expected to miss much more time if any. ... Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins (calf) will sit out Thursday, but it's just a routine day off as he gets back to full speed. Rollins is one-for-nine since coming off the DL, but that one was a walk-off homer. ... The Dodgers expect Chad Billingsley (groin) to be ready to start next Monday. His injury has always been considered minor, and his DL stay was precautionary more than anything. ... The saga of Josh Beckett (back) continues to roll on. He threw a side session on Monday and will need some more bullpen work before heading to the minors. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe speculates a mid-to-late July return. ... Alex Rodriguez has remained in the Yankees lineup even as the team plays at NL-parks. That's a good sign, because there were concerns that his hip/groin injury could force him to the DH more often. ... Rockies reliever Huston Street (shoulder) has been activated but will not close right away. The team wants to get him in a couple games before moving him to closer. ... Padres outfielder Kyle Blanks is expected to miss at least three more weeks with a right elbow strain. He was on track to return over the weekend when his elbow suddenly stiffened up. The promising rookie's Fantasy value in 2010 is shrinking rapidly. ... More will be known about Jacoby Ellsbury's ribs by the end of this week. The Red Sox might finally have a timetable for his return. ... There is no need to worry about Hanley Ramirez's tight hamstring. After sitting out Sunday, the shortstop has four hits in his last two games.
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Have injury questions? E-mail Nate at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @RotoExpertNate.