By Will Carroll
September 17, 2012

There's no real use of the DL in September, so this time of year gives us a unique opportunity to get near-final injury stats while baseball is still being played. I won't even hint at the likely Dick Martin Award finalists, but at the other end of the spectrum, the news isn't good. We may have more 1000-plus day teams than ever before, with nearly a third of the league already there. The Rays, A's, Orioles and Nats are all over 1,000 days lost, while the Yankees take up their traditional position at the tail end of the injury stats and the lead of the AL East. Losing Mariano Rivera for the season should be worse than losing David Aardsma, but having Rafael Soriano step in seamlessly shows that even that assumption can be misleading. There are more advanced measures that give a better picture, but days and dollars lost tell an important story. Teams can overcome injuries, but it's much easier to win when you don't have to do so.

Powered by far too much caffeine -- seriously, I would fail MLB's test right now by a lot -- on to the injuries:

News that Kershaw's hip strain is actually a torn acetabular labrum is about the last thing the Dodgers wanted to hear. While the Dodgers have seen some superficial improvement in their injury stats, no team has the depth to lose its ace while fighting for a playoff spot. The surgery itself isn't that big a deal; several players, including pitchers, have had it in MLB and come back with no problem. The question now is whether the Dodgers' medical staff can find any way to keep Kershaw functional over the next couple weeks. Doctors I spoke with emphasized that this is a relatively new diagnosis, made possible by improvements in MR imaging, so there wasn't much agreement on what could and could not be done. The Dodgers are forward-thinking and flexible, but this might be too much of a challenge for any team. Stephen Fife will be Kershaw's replacement, though it sounds as if the team will try to skip that slot as much as possible.

Hamilton had an injection of lubricant into his knee last week and it seems to have made a difference. Hamilton has been mostly healthy in putting together a season in which he's hit 42 homers, but questions of wear have come up more often. Hamilton's next contract could depend a lot on health and availability much more than things he did a decade ago. The need for Synvisc injections does indicate that Hamilton may have more problems down the line, but managing that issue is possible. Since his last injection back in April, Hamilton's had a pretty good run. Whatever team spends big on him will have plenty of budget for a couple more of these types of injections. Hamilton should focus on which of the teams willing to sign him have the best record of maintaining players like him. It could be the biggest advantage the Rangers have.

Beltre strained his shoulder on a great diving play Wednesday night. The Rangers took a precautionary scan, but there was no severe damage. Essentially, Beltre just overextended his shoulder, but was strong enough that nothing moved out of place. The muscle got the worst of it, leaving him sore. The pain is in his left shoulder, so it shouldn't affect his throws, but the Rangers are keeping him at DH for the time being. This is mostly a precaution. Beltre is always a streaky guy, but watch to see if he gets his power back over the next couple days.

Chapman has had a couple of side sessions and could beat that ERD, but the Reds don't have to rush him back. The lead they have will allow them to rest Chapman and anyone else they want to, especially if it helps set up the rotation for the playoffs. Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos could probably use a short outing to help themselves, too. Chapman's side work has gone as expected, leading Chapman to think he'll be ready as soon as Tuesday. Don't read too much into velocity when he does come back since he's bound to be a bit hesitant to really let loose.

Carpenter had a second, 95-pitch simulated game on Saturday that went as well as it could have. Observers say Carpenter had good stuff and no issues during the session. He also had no unusual pain or swelling, no issues with his hand and recovered well between outings. The Cards will slot him back into the rotation later this week, though they haven't said exactly when yet. The Cards are waiting to see if Jake Westbrook will be back or if they'll give Lance Lynn another start. If Lynn shifts back to the pen, he'll be Carpenter's shadow for that start. The other benefit of getting Carpenter back this week is that they'll face Houston, which is as close as you can get to a rehab start at this time of year.

This one is a bit confusing. McCann has tendinitis in his hamstring tendon. We could call this inflammation, a knee problem or a strained hamstring. The key here is that this is less a traumatic issue than one that's insidious and requiring maintenance. The downside is that the Braves are fighting for a Wild Card slot and finding places where they can rest McCann is difficult. They didn't have a choice over the weekend, but it seems like even that small respite helped. There's always a worry with the Braves because of the influence of Chipper Jones, who pushes to play through injuries and often ends up hurting himself worse. His teammates unwisely follow him time and again and end up paying for it in a lot of cases.

Mauer returned to the Twins lineup on Sunday, playing first base. Mauer has played a few more games at catcher than he has at 1B/DH -- 68 to 62. That's an excellent balance, though Ryan Doumit isn't the expected kind of platoon-mate. That's not to say that GM Terry Ryan has planned this out or has much concern for the kind of plan that I (and others) have advocated for Mauer. In fact, Mauer's shift to first has been more about covering for Justin Morneau than keeping Mauer healthy. The big downside is that this is a chronic situation, with the SI joint the focus of the problem. As he ages, it's going to get tougher and tougher to maintain this situation and have him catch, so having a GM that doesn't focus on sports medicine makes it even tougher. At this point, I have to suggest fantasy owners not keep Mauer and let him go to someone else in the draft. It's better that someone else supports Maalox than you.

Stephen Strasburg isn't allowed to get on a mound, but he's throwing on the side as normal aside from that ... Andy Pettitte will have 70 pitches to work with when he returns on Tuesday. Sources tell me he's likely to be limited to that through the rest of the regular season ... Adam Dunn returned Saturday after seven games missed with an oblique strain. It shows just how valuable the expanded roster can be, since it likely saved the Sox losing a week of Dunn's production ... The Yankees are debating returning Brett Gardner to the active roster. It's really about worker's comp costs, but if he can pinch run in an emergency, so be it ... Corey Hart will likely need an injection as he tried to get back in the lineup for the surging Brewers ... Mike Napoli returned for the Ranges and immediately hit a homer. He'll be a big factor, but there's some question about where he'll play ... Jim Thome will play in simulated games on Monday and Tuesday. The Orioles would love any help he could provide ... Wilson Betemit re-injured his wrist. He's likely done for the season, leaving the DH slot to Lew Ford and perhaps Thome ... Freddy Sanchez thinks he can come back. The Giants will watch and wait, but they're not counting on his return ... Ted Lilly has ended his rehab and elected to have shoulder surgery. What gets done will determine if and when he'll be back next season ... Lorenzo Cain has a significant tear of his hamstring. He's done for the season. Injuries derailed his '12 campaign, but look at the prorated numbers and don't overrate him next season on the chance he and the Royals improve ... The Rockies have abandoned plans to go with a four-man tandem rotation, but will limit pitchers. The four-man did show some improvement and I think the tandem had a chance of being better. This change is disappointing.

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