As an owner who, at one point during the week before the All-Star break, had seven players on the disabled list, I feel safe in saying it feels like there have been a lot of injuries thus far in 2012.
It seemed as though major players were going down left and right. No doubt this disturbing trend wreaked havoc on many a fantasy roster.
The good news is that a number of those major players are on the comeback trail and nearing returns to the majors.
The first among those is Jacoby Ellsbury, who was activated off the disabled list yesterday and was back at the top of the Red Sox lineup and in center field last night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Going into the season, there were already questions about whether the power numbers Ellsbury put up last season (.321 avg., 119 runs, 32 HR, 105 RBI) were legit, and undoubtedly the shoulder separation he suffered earlier this season does little to help him in the power department. Ellsbury didn’t have a great rehab assignment, hitting just .185 in 27 at-bats, but he did hit a homer and doubled twice.
At the very least, I think he’ll hit for average and steal some bases. So if you’ve patiently waited all this time for his return, I see no reason to not immediately put him back into the lineup.
His Red Sox teammate, Carl Crawford, also appears to be on the fast track back to Fenway. This, despite suffering a small setback last week involving a minor groin strain and admitting his elbow still isn’t 100 percent.
There had been some talk that Crawford could require Tommy John surgery, but Sox general manager Ben Cherington suggested earlier this week that it was unlikely Crawford would undergo such a procedure in 2012. Crawford returned to the Sox on Monday.
Taking all that into account, it’s hard to reasonably have any confidence in Crawford bouncing back strong in the second half. I would chalk this up as a lost season for the highly-paid, much maligned Sox outfielder — and to be honest I’m somewhat surprised he’s still 72 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues. Admittedly, I was optimistic about Crawford going into the season, but at this point I’m not touching him with a 10-foot pole until he shows something.
Right-hander Roy Halladay of the Phillies, while seemingly further away than either Ellsbury or Crawford, is still making progress from a right lat strain. He made a rehab start on Thursday and allowed one unearned run over three innings while striking out four and walking none. The Phillies have yet to announce their intentions with Halladay moving forward, but the team is reportedly hoping to have him rejoin their lineup next week.
After what seems like an excruciating wait, Matt Kemp was expected to be activated off the disabled list and return to the Dodgers lineup. Kemp had been off to a fast start, hitting .355 with 12 HR and 38 RBI in 121 at-bats before going down with a strained left hamstring.
Kemp suffered a setback when he tried to return too soon, so it’s important to keep an eye on how he does early on. But obviously his return is a moment to savor, both for the Dodgers (who have struggled in his absence) and for fantasy owners )who likely selected him at the very top of their drafts.
Finally, Lance Berkman of the Cardinals, who it had been feared suffered a career-threatening knee injury earlier this season, took batting practice Thursday at Busch Stadium and will reportedly travel with the team to Cincinnati. Manager Mike Matheny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that it’s likely Berkman will be activated at some point during the team’s upcoming six-game road trip, thus forgoing a rehab assignment.
Despite having a nice comeback year in 2011, I’m somewhat surprised that Berkman is still owned in 67 percent of Yahoo! leagues. I’d also give him a little time to get back into a groove at the plate before reinserting him into your lineup, especially considering the fact he’ll be going straight from the disabled list to the Cardinals’ batting order.
The Marlins placed Giancarlo Stanton on the disabled list. He’s expected to miss 4-6 weeks following surgery on his knee.
Stanton struggled earlier this season when trying to play through knee pain, so perhaps it’s a good thing for everyone involved to get this taken care of and for him to come back strong, both for the Marlins and his fantasy owners.
Keep an eye on Mets prospect Matt Harvey. Mets Manager Terry Collins said Harvey is a candidate to make a start Wednesday night against the Nationals, and it’s not inconceivable he could get a chance to remain in the rotation given the injury to Dillon Gee.
Harvey is a flamethrower, averaging 9.34 strikeouts per nine innings this season at Triple-A, but his control is a concern (3.84 walks per nine). I’m not ready to add Harvey in your standard mixed leagues, but he is a player I will be paying close attention to with an eye to maybe streaming or a later pickup.