Injury bug bites Ibanez
Raul Ibanez‘s improbable career year hit a snag Thursday
morning, when the Phillies slugger landed on the 15-day DL with a strained left
The ball dropped one day after Ibanez seemed to have
trouble running the bases. It was unclear initially whether the groin strain was
something new or related to the sore left Achilles’ that nagged him for a week
or so, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. cleared up the confusion shortly
after Thursday’s move, saying the two injuries were not related.
Amaro was also quick to point out that the groin injury
has bothered Ibanez for a while. “It’s affected his play,” Amaro said.
“When he got back on the field yesterday and played, it got to the point
where the discomfort was enough for us to shut him down.” That may explain
why Ibanez is hitting just .194 (6-for-31) in the past seven games, although he’s
gone for three home runs in that span.
After missing Sunday’s game, Ibanez blamed his shoes for
the absence and insisted that the sore Achilles’ was nothing to worry
about. You can hardly blame the guy for dismissing any form of physical
limitation. We’re talking about a 37-year-old having an MVP-caliber career
year, not to mention a model of men’s health who takes better care of his body
than William Sadler did in “Die Hard 2: Die Harder” as John McClane’s
karate-kicking nemesis, Col. Stuart.
That said, you have to figure the groin strain caused
enough concern for the first-place Phillies to put him on the shelf. It’s also
a huge loss for fantasy teams who’ve come to rely on the unlikely superstar
enjoying a Luis Gonzalezian campaign. An MRI will be taken Thursday for Ibanez,
who heads to the DL ranked second in the NL with 22 long balls and 59 RBIs.
“We’ll monitor him every day and see how he feels,
and hopefully he’ll heal properly and be ready in 15 days,” Amaro said.
“That’s the plan. That would be great. But I don’t know if that’s going to
John Mayberry Jr. was recalled to take his place, but
probably doesn’t deserve much attention beyond deep NL-only play. Known more
for his father’s skills than his own, Mayberry Jr. was hitting just .257 at Las
Vegas with a .470 slugging percentage.
Unfortunately, Ibanez, Roy Halladay and Scott Downs aren’t
the only prominent players to be bitten by the injury bug. A growing number of ailments
have left fantasy owners scrambling for replacements. Let’s walk through the week’s
biggest boo-boos and identify a few stopgap solutions:
Condition: Pulled from Monday night’s game with ankle
stiffness, Jeter was out of the lineup Wednesday. He’s not expected to go on
Maicer Iztirus: With Howard Kendrick out of the picture
as the Angels second baseman, Cesar’s half-brother has stepped in to go 8-for-14
with six runs scored, a homer and six RBIs over his last five games. Even if
Jeter makes a swift return, having an all-purpose infielder like Izturis to
plug in here and there isn’t the worst thing in the world. Worse players have
risen from utility status to full-time contributor.
Alternatives: Alberto Callaspo, Brendan Harris
Condition: Landed on DL Thursday after weeks of being
hampered by a strained groin, no timetable for return.
Condition: Landed on the 15-day DL Tuesday after being
sidelined since June 9 due to an inner-ear infection.
Juan Rivera: A lengthy injury history limited Rivera’s
value heading into ’09, but he has no business being on the waiver wire with
the way he’s swung the bat in recent weeks. Since May 23, the guy sports a .395
average, six homers and 20 RBIs, including three homers in the last three days.
In other words, he’s worth owning regardless of when your regular starting
outfielder is ready to return.
Cody Ross: Riding the hot hand could reap short-term
rewards with Ross, who is hitting .407 (11-for-27) with four doubles, two
homers and six RBIs. The power is real, but don’t expect an average north of
.300 the rest of the way with all the strikeouts he racks up.
Alternatives: Tony Gwynn Jr., Jeremy Hermida, Chris Coghlan, Chris B.
Ervin Santana, Angels
Condition: Scratched from his last outing with right
forearm tightness, Santana has until June 23, his next scheduled turn in the
Angels rotation, to show he’s healthy. Otherwise, he faces the prospect of
another DL stint, damaging his short-term value.
Erik Bedard, Mariners
Condition: Bedard was placed on the DL on Wednesday
night, retroactive to June 8, when the shoulder inflammation he first
experienced after his June 7 start didn’t adequately subside.
Chris R. Young, Padres
Condition: Landing on the DL because of an inflamed right
shoulder might be a blessing in disguise for Young. The hope is that time away
will put him back on track, or at least bring down his unusually ineffective
John Maine, Mets
Condition: On the DL since June 12 with shoulder
weakness, Maine is expected to rejoin the Mets rotation next week.
Ricky Romero: I mentioned Romero as an attractive pickup
before Tuesday’s impressive outing in which he fanned nine Phillies in seven
innings of three-run ball. Now, you’ll have to pounce before someone realizes
the last-place Nationals are his next opponent this weekend.
Joe Blanton: Also among this week’s spot-starters,
Blanton heads into Thursday’s scheduled start against the Blue Jays sporting a
3-0 record, a 3.09 ERA and a 32/7 K/BB ratio in his last five starts.
Don’t be scared off by his season totals.
Jeff Niemann: The stuff has always been there, and we’ve
seen glimmers of dominance over the past few weeks, including a complete-game
shutout of the Royals.
Jose Contreras: Why not gamble? His fastball velocity is
reportedly back where it was a few years ago, and the fact that he’s coming off
back-to-back eight-inning gems offers hope that this isn’t the same guy who
rang up an 8.19 ERA through his first five starts in ’09. Stranger things have
Brad Bergeson: Granted, he’ll leave you yearning for more
strikeouts, and the wrong matchup could send his ERA soaring, but Bergeson’s
sinker is effective enough to provide value in deep mixed-league play. The
unheralded Oriole has induced more than twice as many grounders as flies,
bringing to mind an American League version of Aaron Cook.
Alternatives: Dallas Braden, Randy Wells,
Trevor Cahill, Luke Hochevar, Nick Blackburn
Condition: On the 15-day DL with a knee injury, he’s already
pitching bullpen sessions and might begin a rehab assignment this weekend (June
Condition: Sidelined since June 4, Francisco pitched a
bullpen session Tuesday and expects to return from the 15-day DL in the next
J.P. Howell, Rays: If you missed out on dash to grab Ryan
Madson, Jason Frasor or C.J. Wilson, take a flier on Howell. Like Downs or Brian Fuentes,
this is a left-hander who has shown the ability to shut down right-handed
batters. And with no set timetable for Troy Percival‘s return, maybe the Rays
will go ahead and hand the closer reins over to their best reliever.
Alternatives: Mike MacDougal, Joe Beimel
— Alex Cushing, MLB.com