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With the first pick in the first round of the 1990 MLB Amateur Draft, the Atlanta Braves selected Larry Wayne Jones Jr. a high school player out of Jacksonville. The Braves selected Chipper Jones over pitcher Todd Van Poppel, partially because Van Poppel said he would not sign if drafted by Atlanta.
Twenty years later the city of Atlanta would like to collectively thank Van Poppel.
In the fantasy world, Jones has been known for two things; his incredible numbers at third base, and more recently, a laundry list of injuries. On Tuesday night, Jones sprained a knee ligament. Reports say that the ligament will require season-ending surgery.
Almost instantly, columnists and bloggers alike started talking about the possible end of his career. It's probably too early to write off the veteran. Despite his disappointing start to the 2010 season, Jones had posted a line of .307/.391/.533 since the All-Star break.
Those numbers were starting to catch the eye of some fantasy general managers, especially considering how thin third base has been. Too bad he's nothing more than another 3B casualty.
Maybe this latest injury will finally convince more fantasy GMs to add Houston's Chris Johnson, who is batting .432 with 25 RBIs since the All-Star break and was just moved to fifth in the Astros lineup. He's still owned in less than 50 percent of all Yahoo! leagues.
Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta Braves
It's bad enough that the 38-year-old Jones went down with a knee injury. But the Braves' 21-year-old star outfielder Heyward is dealing with knee soreness and inflammation. Heyward hasn't played since Monday (which happened to be his 21st birthday), but neither Heyward nor the team has expressed any concern about it. Heyward's fantasy owners in daily leagues will want to check pregame reports in the near future to make sure the rookie doesn't have any more surprise off days.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston Red Sox
Just like third, second base has had its fair share of injuries this season. Pedroia's been out since June 25 with a broken bone in his left foot. He's been trying to work his way back into the Sox lineup since June 26. Pedroia was so frustrated by this injury, that he immediately started doing everything he could to be ready to come off the Disabled List as soon as possible. That included taking infield practice from his knees.
The team expects Pedroia back on Tuesday, Aug. 17, and fantasy owners are going to thank Pedroia for working so hard. Unlike other players who miss a month due to injury and take some time to knock the rust off, Pedroia should be ready to make an immediate impact. GMs shouldn't be wishy-washy, get him in the lineup right away.
Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies
While Utley is still expected to take the full two months to recover from the torn ligaments in his thumb, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that he has been cleared to swing a bat. Utley went down three days after Pedroia, and isn't scheduled to be back until sometime around Aug. 26, although doctors have not completely ruled out an earlier return.
While Utley continues to work his way back, fantasy GMs who haven't found a stable replacement should consider a pair of utility options. Both Atlanta's Omar Infante and Houston's Jeff Keppinger are eligible at 2B, SS, and 3B (Infante also has OF eligibility) and both produce steady numbers. Infante can be added in 79 percent of leagues and Keppinger is out there in 65 percent.
Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers
Unlike Utley, Kinsler has not been cleared to start swinging a bat, and an injury that was originally only supposed to keep the second baseman on the 15-day DL for the minimum, looks like it'll keep him off the field for two-to-three more weeks. Kinsler had an MRI on Tuesday that showed his strained left groin is improving, but inflammation in the area remains.
If all goes well, Kinsler will start swinging a bat next Tuesday and the team is targeting the end of August for his return. The Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports that Kinsler vows to return to the starting lineup on September 1 if his groin is healed or not.
Rafael Furcal, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers placed Furcal on the 15-day DL Wednesday with a lower back strain. The move is retroactive to Aug. 3, so Furcal will be eligible to return next Wednesday. He was actually expected to be in the lineup Wednesday, but when he complained of discomfort, the team decided not to take any chances. Quietly, Furcal is having the third best fantasy season of any shortstop in standard 5x5 scoring leagues. Jamey Carroll will most likely get a majority of the starts at shortstop until Furcal returns.
Either of the aforementioned Infante and Keppinger would make a nice temporary fantasy starter until Furcal is back.
Training rooms around the league are filling up late in the season.
Stephen Strasburg's first start after his DL trip was less than impressive, allowing six earned runs in 4.1 innings. Strasburg's velocity was in the high 90s, and his struggles didn't appear to be injury related. ... Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has yet to participate in baseball related activities. Out with a sprained ankle, Howard is eligible to return next Tuesday, but that could be delayed by a couple days. ... The Phillies activated outfielder Shane Victorino (abdominal strain) from the DL on Thursday and sent Antonio Bastardo back to the minors. Rookie Domonic Brown, who was rumored to be headed back to the minors when Victorino returns, is still with the club. ... After dealing with soreness in his lower back, Milwaukee outfielder Corey Hart was back in the lineup on Thursday. Also back in the lineup was Ryan Braun. Braun hurt his wrist Sunday, missed Monday and Tuesday, but was able to pinch hit on Wednesday. ... Jason Bay has been on the DL for the Mets since July 26 with a concussion. He texted the New York Post Thursday to announce that he "absolutely" will play again this season. ... Speaking of concussions, Minnesota's Justin Morneau is working out at Target Field, but isn't travelling with the team. ... Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez is still on the DL with a right calf strain, and he actually had an MRI postponed last week due to claustrophobia. There is still no clear timetable for his return. ... Gordon Beckham returned to the White Sox lineup Wednesday after missing a couple games with a groin injury. It's safe to get him back into fantasy lineups. ... After flirting with a no-hitter on Sunday, Toronto's Brandon Morrow will not pitch again until Aug. 17. This is a precautionary move, and isn't injury related. ... A's closer Andrew Bailey (oblique) has extended his throwing program and will be ready to throw off a mound next week. ... Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson missed Wednesday's game, but not due to injury. The veteran took the day off to rework his swing. ... Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia jumped at his chance to replace the injured John Buck, homering twice in his first game. Arencibia had 31 homers in the minors this year, and is still available in 77 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues.
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