Fantasy Sports Injury Mailbag: Hanley, Greinke, Halladay, Wade, Rose Updates

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Well folks, a lot has happened since the last time we saw each other across the four major sports, with baseball nearly 25% done and basketball and hockey smack in the middle of the playoffs. While the NFL is currently in a quiet period now that free agency has died down and the draft is over, we all know that news doesn’t stop popping up with 24/7 news cycles and the endless stream of injuries that occur in America’s #1 sport.

With that said, I figured the best way to answer all of your injury concerns and address each and every major fantasy sport out there was with a mega-mailbag, which is also my way of making it up to all you guys out there who missed reading my columns (I’m looking at you mom and dad). This will be the first of many mailbags to come, so please submit any questions, comments, or concerns to ziad.dahdul@fflockeroom.com or find me on twitter at @z_dahdul and I’ll include all questions in upcoming mailbags.

So without further adieu, here’s the maiden voyage of the Fantasy Injury Mailbag!

What’s going on with Hanley Ramirez?? He surprises us all and comes back early from tearing a thumb ligament and within a few games he’s back on the DL with a hamstring strain? Is this guy injury prone and going to break our hearts moving forward?? ZD, Fullerton, CA

Ok, so I planted that first one, sue me. As a Dodgers fan, the last thing we needed was another key cog in an already struggling lineup to go out with another injury, but it happened again with Hanley. It was truly amazing how quickly he bounced back from tearing the ulnar collateral ligament of his thumb (pinky-side ligament of his right thumb), returning to the Dodgers’ lineup 3 weeks early. Although he wasn’t quite 100%, his bat seemed to be just fine, as he rattled off 5 hits in his first 12 ABs with 3 extra base hits. It looks as if Hanley will be out at least 4-5 more weeks, with an early June return seemingly the best case scenario at this point. Based on the time frame, I’m guessing he suffered a grade 2 hamstring strain, meaning he has some extent of a partial tear of the hamstring musculature. Expect him to be ok when he returns as he doesn’t have a long history of muscle injuries in his legs, but at the very least, you know the thumb will be 100% by the time he returns, which is the silver-lining on a miserable start to the Dodgers’ season. Dee Gordon should get the majority of time in Ramirez’s place, which is a sneaky pickup solely for his stolen base contributions if you’re in need.

What should we expect from Zack Greinke with his scheduled return this Wednesday? Will he be the same guy he was before? CZ, Michigan

I’m going to attempt to answer this question without somehow jinxing the Dodgers, but I wrote when the injury first happened that I didn’t think he’d be limited at all once he returned. Beyond the normal rust a pitcher has after not throwing competitively for a while, I think the fractured left clavicle he suffered will be a distant memory after he gets a start or two under his belt. This is also why I believe the Dodgers only wanted to see one to two minor league rehab starts out of Greinke. In his one rehab start, he gave up 6 hits, 8 runs (3 earned), and no walks in 4 1/3 innings. Not spectacular, but also not unexpected as the numbers don’t matter as much as how he felt after the start. While initial reports had Greinke coming back this Wednesday against the Nationals, nothing has been decided yet, which could mean one more rehab start for him. The team is a just a bit concerned about his ability to cover first, handle the bat, and field the ball before they bring him back (3 weeks early), so they may want to see one more start before that decision is made.

Regardless, he should be back in your lineup the second he’s back in the rotation, as he is the right-handed portion of the best pitching tandem in baseball (with LHP Clayton Kershaw) and will restore his dominant ways in no time.

Bryce Harper had a nasty collision with the right field wall tonight (Monday). Is he going to be out for a while?? LD, Los Angeles, CA

For those of you who didn’t see it, the play was ugly. Harper was attempting to track a ball off the bat of Dodgers’ catcher AJ Ellis, which caromed off the wall for a double. Harper, however, didn’t seem to know how close he was to the wall and smashed face first in the scoreboard of the right field wall. He suffered a laceration to his face and did appear to be a bit dazed as he was walking off the field. He was apparently trying to convince the trainers/manager Davey Johnson to let him stay in the game, but to no avail. Harper looked to snap his head back after the collision, resulting in a whiplash-type mechanism that will more than likely result in both a concussion and strained neck (over-stretch and trauma to the muscles of the neck/upper back). Expect Harper to take a few days off, pass his battery of concussion tests (if he’s indeed diagnosed with one), and avoid the DL if he’s doing well by Wednesday/Thursday. More to come in the next day or two.

I’m curious about this Lisfranc and why this foot injury seems to be so nagging/time consuming to come back from?? JD, Ohio

To best explain why this injury is so difficult to come back from, we should first explain what the injury is. The Lisfranc complex is comprised of the small tarsal bones that form the top part of the arch of the foot in addition to the 5 metatarsals (long bones) that extend to connect to the toes. The term Lisfranc injury is very broad, and could mean fractured bones, torn ligaments, disrupted cartilage, and/or all of the above. In usual cases, there are fractures to the small bones that form the arch and/or tears to the ligaments that hold all of these joints together, which causes significant pain, swelling, and instability to the middle of the foot. The more small joints involved and the more bones that are fractured, the longer the healing process and the more involved the surgery is.

So, why is this so important? Well, for football players in particular, there are three main consequences:

  • Decreases the midfoot’s ability to stabilize the arch during walking/running/cutting: For a skills-position player or anyone reliant on mobility/speed, this injury steals a player’s explosiveness and ability to cut/plant or push off due to the increase of instability around the arch of the foot.
  • Impairs the transfer of forces from the calf to the front of the foot: This has a significant effect on acceleration/deceleration, directly decreasing the ability of the gastroc/soleus complex (calf muscle) to transmit force through the foot to allow for pushing off or eccentrically (controlled muscle lengthening) slowing a player down during a sprint. This would also factor into basketball (jumping, lateral movements) and baseball (any position player defensively, running the bases), but just isn’t as common as it is in football.
  • Can speed up arthritic processes in the small joints of the foot: Any time there is a change in bony alignment and anatomical positioning, there’s the likelihood that our joint mechanics are altered. When this happens, certain areas of the articular cartilage, which is on the ends of each bone, begin to develop different patterns of movement, which can result in certain areas of the joint grinding/rubbing where it shouldn’t be. This breakdown of cartilage is what happens in arthritic processes, which decreases the amount of “smoothness” on each end of the bone, causing irregular joint surfaces. Not only will this create problems in an athlete’s life later on down the line, but can also lead to early development of chronic foot pain, which can significantly affect effectiveness and mobility if they cannot tolerate pain well.

With a combination of increased pain, decreased arch stability, and a significant reduction in force production and explosiveness, it becomes clear why this seems to be such a stubborn injury to come back from. One guy to keep an eye on once he finds a home is Cedric Benson, as speed and agility weren’t really his forte to begin with. If he can find a spot as the goal line horse for a running back-needy team, he could present some solid value late in drafts. Keep an eye on him.

Is Roy Halladay basically done at this point or can we expect him to contribute again at some point this season? TS, Indiana

It’s hard to say at this point. Initial reports state that Halladay is dealing with fraying of the labrum (ring of cartilage around the shoulder socket) and rotator cuff in addition to bone spurs in the shoulder joint. The intention is to arthroscopically go into Halladay’s pitching shoulder and clean up the frayed tissue and shave off the bone spurs so that the joint itself can begin to move more fluidly and efficiently than it had been.

If you’ve kept an eye on Halladay this season, his arm slot has dropped significantly, as he began throwing more side-armed than he ever had before. This is common with overhead athletes dealing with internal shoulder impingement or rotator cuff/labral pathology, as motions that bring the arm above 90 degrees (when the arm bone is above-parallel to the ground) cause the shoulder joint to be even more closed down, leading to irritation and further degeneration of the rotator cuff, biceps tendon, and labrum.

The most likely scenario bandied about at this point is that Halladay could miss up to 8-10 weeks and be back on the mound sometime around the All-Star break. But until surgical reports come out and they truly find out the extent of the damage in his shoulder, it’s really impossible to give a timeline at this point. Needless to say, Halladay won’t be helping many fantasy teams in the first half of the season and, if I’m a betting man (which I am), I’m expecting him to be a shell of the guy we’ve seen in past years moving forward. He may come back to be a solid pitcher, but with his age and the mechanical mess he’s been these last two years, it’s hard to expect Halladay to be anything close to the guy we’ve seen these last several years.

What’s this about Dwyane Wade‘s knee cap being moved so it “doesn’t rub, then being taped in place”? Everyone who read this on Twitter

What it sounds like they’re describing is a common condition known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS). PFPS describes a condition in which the patella does not stay in proper alignment within the trochlear groove (a notch on the femur), which is designed to allow the patella to slide and glide smoothly without grinding on the femur when bending and straightening the knee. In Wade’s case, the team’s physical therapist/athletic trainer will work on this tracking issue via patellar mobilization, stretching/soft tissue mobilization for the muscles/tissue surrounding the patella, and taping to help “maintain” positioning of the patella. Although there isn’t a ton of scientific literature that validates the use of tape with patellar alignment/mobility, it can help with joint proprioception (sensing where your joint is in space) in addition to giving the athlete confidence that the knee is more supported. Either way, Wade has dealt with chronic knee issues for years, which means this problem isn’t going away anytime soon. With management of minutes (which the Heat can do more effectively now that they have a 3-1 series lead) treatment between games, Wade should be able to get through this postseason and be effective, albeit not at the same consistent level he’s been playing at in years past. But they have LeBron James, so it kind of doesn’t matter.

Will Derrick Rose ever play basketball again? All of Chicago

Rose has been the source of scrutiny and speculation all throughout the playoffs, made worse by the Bulls advancing to the Eastern Conference Semifinals despite his absence. And to say Rose has taken a beating in the media (especially by former players like Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal) is a definite understatement. The real question is this: Is Rose ready to come back medically? Absolutely, as he was cleared by his surgeon over two months ago. But with elite athletes, they know their bodies really well, better than anyone else. And for him to continuously reiterate that he doesn’t feel “right” and isn’t 100% confident in the knee,  he must really not be right. Although he’s been participating in contact scrimmages and full court drills for quite a while now, it’s hard to say what exactly is still the issue.

There haven’t been any (reported) setbacks and the fact that he can do everything on the court without limitation should be enough for him to come back and play. But if you ask anyone who’s torn an ACL, you can’t come back afraid or unsure, because playing scared is just asking to get hurt again. So say what you will about Rose and his not coming back to help out his teammates, but you can’t really question his intentions. He already signed his huge contract, has a ridiculous endorsement deal with Adidas, and is arguably a top-5 player in the NBA, so why would he sit out if he felt up to playing?

Derrick Rose will be back on the court next season and should his his stride by December/January, so if the rest of your league is scared off come next season’s fantasy draft and he falls to the second/third round, don’t be afraid to draft him and reap the benefits.

Are the Yankees planning on taking anyone off the DL anytime soon with all the injuries they’ve dealt with? JN, West Virginia

Curtis Granderson appears to be on the brink of returning to the Yankees’ lineup as soon as Tuesday, as he’s gone through 3 rehab games with good pop in his bat and no reported setbacks. Granderson has demonstrated that he can perform all phases of the game (hitting/throwing/fielding) without issue and appears to be confident that inside pitches won’t spook him, despite that being how he fractured his forearm in the first place. Expect Granderson to jump right back into the middle of the Yanks’ lineup and produce instantly.

Mark Teixeira is still on track to return to the Yankees’ lineup by early June and will reportedly continue to progress swinging a bat off a tee/live pitching gradually over the next month. Ivan Nova looks like he’s on the road back as well, as he had a 2 inning rehab assignment last week as he comes back from a strained triceps muscle on his throwing arm. He was slated to pitch again today, but apparently had some soreness and discomfort, which could mean a setback or just general soreness after returning to competition. Regardless, he doesn’t appear terribly far away from returning.

Any updates on other baseball injuries from this past week now that you’ve already rambled on for 2,553 words and counting? Everybody, USA

I can take a hint. Let’s do this rapid fire:

  • Adrian Gonzalez: upper trapezius muscle strain (muscle at the base of the neck/top of the shoulder), looks to be just a nagging minor strain that comes and goes, shouldn’t result in him going not he DL as it appears he’ll just play through it, so keep him in your lineup
  • Ryan Madson: the Angels former closer appears to be on track to return in the next week following an expected short rehab stint, he won’t be closing games but could round into form and provide solid K’s, K’s/9, and WHIP numbers later on in the season in a setup role
  • Johnny Cueto: has another rehab assignment on Tuesday, if all goes well he could be back in the rotation by May 19th, although he’s had so many muscle strains (triceps, lats, obliques) that the Reds could choose another rehab start just in case, looks like he’ll be back within the next 10-14 days.
  • Andrew Bailey: he’s expected to return this week, so keep an eye on the Red Sox closer situation now that Joel Hanrahan is out for the season. Junichi Tazawa is currently closing games for the Sox, but Bailey was brought in to be “the guy” in the bullpen, so if he can stay healthy (that’s a huge, ginormous IF) and recover nicely from this biceps strain, he could provide some good saves and K’s numbers for a surprisingly solid Red Sox squad.
  • Jake Westbrook: elbow inflammation…is there a worse diagnosis to see for a pitcher right now than that? He received a cortisone injection to help calm down swelling and irritation, so they will see how he responds after a couple days of rest. There’s no telling how long he’ll be out, as it could be as soon as a week or two or as much as a couple months. Hard to say at this point, but “elbow inflammation” has not resulted in quick returns for pitchers this season.
  • Coco Crisp and Chris Young: both are dealing with muscle strains (hamstring for Crisp, quadriceps for Young). Both appear to be recovering well and are expected to return to the lineup this week. Look for Young to be back a bit sooner than Crisp, possibly as early as Wednesday with Crisp’s return still a bit more up in the air (possibly late in the week).

Ok boys and girls, that’s it for this week. As I mentioned before, look out for injury updates on FFLockerRoom as they happen throughout the week with mailbags/articles coming out on a weekly basis. Follow our site on twitter at @fflockeroom and follow me at @z_dahdul for up-to-date injury analysis.