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MLB 2011 DL: Injury Updates


MLB reports:  To answer many of our readers inquiries, here is an update on some of the casualties and wounded in the world of baseball and when each player is expected to return from the disabled list:

Phil Hughes:  Yankees

Hughes went on the 15 day disabled list in mid-April with a “dead arm” and has not returned since.  On April 28th Hughes received a cortisone shot and reports have indicated that his shoulder has responded well.  The timetable for Hughes to return to the mound is 6-8 weeks, which would put him sometime into July.  Hughes has not started throwing yet but has visited specialists who have ruled out surgery at this point.  With a dead arm type injury, it is not always easy to predict where the future lies.  Justin Verlander went through such an episode in his career and has come back stronger than ever.  The fear though is that the velocity will not return and surgery could be lurking in the background.  Until Hughes begins throwing and regains his velocity, Yankees fans will continue to huddle in prayer and hope for Hughes to come back and reclaim his 2010 form this year.

Carlos Guillen:  Tigers

Guillen has been bothered by a sore left knee and out of action since mid-March and going on the 15 day DL.  Reports have indicated that Guillen is taking ground balls, but no other baseball activities at this point.  The original prognosis of mid-May does not appear likely, with an end of the month or early June return a possibility.  With his wonky surgically repaired knee, Guillen will likely be a DH at best if and when he returns to the Tigers lineup.  There is a possibility of a relapse here, so the Tigers are progressing forward without Guillen and any contributions this year will be considered a bonus.

Joe Mauer:  Twins

The $184 million dollar man is off to a dreadful start in 2011, the first season of his monster contract.  After having surgery on his knee in the off-season, Mauer has been bothered by leg weakness all season.  Mauer has started hitting and throwing, but his return is up in the air.  Once considered to be the greatest catcher in baseball, talk has already started about a position change in his future.  After moving prospect Wilson Ramos, the Twins cannot be happy about the state of Mauer’s health.  Like the other members of this list thus far, Mauer’s return date is unknown at this point.  With the Twins off to a terrible start this season, there is much pressure to get Mauer into the lineup to get the team going.  But considering the investment in the catcher, the team will likely be cautious and continue to bring him along slowly in the fear that further damage could result in rushing him.  Expect Mauer back sometime in June likely, but his catching days appear to coming to an end in the near future unfortunately.

Josh Hamilton:  Rangers

After breaking a bone in his right arm from a home plate collision early in the season, Hamilton is nearing his return to the Rangers lineup.  Hamilton is taking swings and should hopefully ready soon for a couple of minor league rehab appearances.  I would expect Hamilton back in the Rangers lineup in the next two weeks if all goes well.  The brittle Hamilton continues to endure bad luck in the health department, with the Rangers sorely needing a healthy Hamilton in order to contend in the AL West.

Chien-Ming Wang:  Nationals

After 2 missed seasons, Wang continues to try to come back from a torn shoulder capsule and pitch once again in the majors.  After breaking his right foot in 2008, Wang ended up injuring his shoulder and has not returned to pitch in a professional game since.  Still rehabbing in the Nationals system, it appears unlikely that we will see Wang pitch again.  Fans still hope that the former back-to-back 19 game winner can find health and pitch again, but after a prolonged absence, the window of opportunity continues to close further every week/month that goes by.

Johan Santana:  Mets

Another torn shoulder capsule survivor, Santana underwent his surgery last September.  Reports have indicated a possible July return for Santana, which appear to be optimistic at best.  With a similar injury to Wang, there is no guarantees of when Santana and what condition he will be in.  Good news in that Santana is throwing off a mound and flat ground and reported no setbacks to date.  But with these types of injuries, relapses are always a possibility.  If the Mets flounder this year as expected, the smart advice is to rest Santana and bring him along slowly, with a 2012 return being the better bet.  Only time will tell if Santana will return and reclaim his spot as one of the top starting pitchers in baseball.  At this point, I would not be counting on it.

Chase Utley:  Phillies

With injuries all around in baseball, few have been more anxious than thedisappearance of Chase Utley.  With the Phillies offense built around Utley and Howard, a long-term absence by the second baseman was seen as damaging by the Phillies faithful.  Talk at the start of the season was a possible September return by Utley, based on the knee injury.  Philadelphia got a great shot in the arm when Utley’s rehab progressed so well to the point that he is already DHing this week in minor league rehab games, with a possible return by the end of the month.  Far ahead of schedule, the hope is that Utley is fully recovered and will be strong for the remainder of the season.  Utley’s story is one of the few bright spots in our long list of injuries in this report.

Scott Rolen:  Reds

Placed on the DL at the end of April with a strained shoulder, Rolen is no stranger to baseball injuries.  But being the professional he is, Rolen also works very hard and keeps himself in strong game shape to attempt to avoid long-term absences.  Rolen has been taking batting practice this week and has also been running the bases and participating in fielding drills.  No timetable on his return at this point, but based on his advanced baseball activity, I would expect a return by the end of this month.

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MLB reports:  Many Readers have been e-mailing me to find out the status of their favorite players currently on the MLB disabled list.  One area of concern in baseball that I have addressed on many occasions is the injuries to pitchers in particular.  While batters have their share of ailments, it seems that pitchers are most susceptible to the injury bug.  If the names Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Lewis Yocum ring a bell, then you will understand what I mean.

The following players have received much requests from our readers.  From our reports, here is the updates on each player:

Brandon Webb, Rangers: 15 day DL, Shoulder Surgery

As Webb’s surgery was performed by the Rangers team doctor Dr. Keith Meister, baseball experts felt that Texas had the best read on the health of the right-handed starter.  Many experts were skeptical as to whether Webb would be able to return healthy and effective in 2011.  At this point, the future of Webb remains cloudy.  He threw a 70 pitch bullpen session with the ball club yesterday.  Webb appears to be 4-6 weeks away from returning to the Rangers, which would equate to an end of the May, beginning of June scenario.  I would be surprised at this point if Webb returns at all before the All-Star break.  Webb has further indicated that he is willing to pitch out of the bullpen depending on the team’s needs.  Conclusion:  Texas is not counting on Webb this year and any returns from the former star pitcher will be a bonus.  After such a lengthy absence from game action, it is possible that Webb’s return, if it comes to fruition, could be a short one.

Ben Sheets:  Free Agent

After undergoing arm surgery and missing the 2009 season, Ben Sheets pitched for the Oakland Athletics in 2010.  After an inconsistent start to the season, Sheet’s season ended in July when he required flexor tendon surgery.  After this additional surgery and another missed year, I would be surprised if Sheets is able to return in 2012.  At 33 years old and a history of arm issues, we have probably seen the last of Ben Sheets.  Pitchers can only endure so many arm issues in their career and Sheets has appeared to have reached his limit.  Conclusion:  Retirement is on the doorstep.

Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays: 15 day DL, Inflammation Elbow

In the continuing line of baseball pitchers with various injuries and ailments, Brandon Morrow started off the year on the disabled list with inflammation of the elbow.  The good news is that Morrow completed his final rehab stint for Class A Dunedin and is set to rejoin the Blue Jays this week.  John Farrell, manager of the Blue Jays, confirmed this morning on the Fan 590 Sportsnet radio station that Morrow is expected to start either Friday or Saturday against the Rays and re-claim a spot in the Jays rotation.  The 26-year-old Morrow has been both a starter and reliever in his career, settling in as a full-time starter in 2010.  Making 26 starts, Morrow struck out a whopping 178 batters in 146 1/3 innings that year.  The ceiling is very high on the youngster and as long as he is healthy, Morrow will continue to develop into a #2 starter for the up-and-coming Jays.  Conclusion:  Expect more visits to the disabled list in 2011 and into the future, but anything close to reasonable health will lead to improved statistics for the hard-throwing righthander.

Frank Francisco, Blue Jays: 15 day DL, Biceps

In the continuing search in baseball for closers, many baseball fans are curious as to the status of Frank Francisco of the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Jays have many bullpen options, including Octavio Dotel, Jason Frasor and Jon Rauch.  But with the trade of Mike Napoli to Texas, many people in baseball feel that Francisco is the heir apparent closer in Toronto.  A much harder thrower than incumbent closer Jon Rauch, health and inconsistency have plagued the 31-year-old Francisco throughout his major league career.  Reports indicate that Francisco threw a scoreless inning in his final rehab assignment for the class A club and will rejoin the Jays on Tuesday.  As Rauch is 3 for 3 in save opportunities, John Farrell is unlikely to throw Francisco immediately into the closer role.  But as spring training reports indicated that Francisco would be appointed the closer, the clock is likely ticking on Rauch’s 9th inning appearances for now.  Conclusion:  Once he returns and shows health, Francisco will likely start closing for the Jays within the next 2 weeks.  Health aside, effectiveness will determine whether he keeps the role.  Over the long-term, I see Rauch being the closer in 2011 for the majority of the year with Francisco returning to the set-up role he had maintained in Texas last year.

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