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Injuries continue to haunt big-name players

Posted: Tuesday May 17, 2005 5:35PM; Updated: Tuesday May 17, 2005 6:11PM
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Ken Griffey Jr.
It took some time, but Ken Griffey's bat has heated up.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

1. Robinson Cano, Yankees: After struggling when he first came up to the bigs, Cano has gone on a tear at the plate, going 13 for his past 22. More important, he's playing every day at second base and manager Joe Torre says that will remain the case.

2. Craig Monroe, Tigers: Since returning on May 7 from a mild groin strain, Monroe is 9 for 24 with five RBIs. He put up decent numbers the past two seasons, and at 28, he might be ready to take his game to another level. He's playing every day, and that can't hurt.

3. Ken Griffey Jr., Reds: Many people were writing his baseball obituary early in the season, but over the past 30 days, Griffey is batting .286 with five homers and 20 RBIs. Most significant, he's stayed on the field. Remember, Griffey barely played the last three seasons -- 70 games in 2002, 53 in '03, 83 in '04 -- so he could be finding his timing and getting into peak playing condition. If you say I'm crazy and he's an injury waiting to happen, I can't argue. But I'd take my chances on Griffey. He plays in a good lineup and in a homer-friendly park.

4. Morgan Ensberg, Astros: Forget the three-homer game on Sunday. In May, he's batting .438. He's also hitting .362 at home, where the Astros play their next three games.

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5. Brian Moehler: We know about the stellar seasons Dontrelle Willis, Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett are having. But Moehler quietly has done the job as Florida's fifth starter. In his past two outings, he's allowed three earned runs in 12 2/3 innings pitched. With no pressure on Moehler, and Jack McKeon's insistence that starters throw innings, the veteran right-hander is in a perfect situation.

6. Daryle Ward, Pirates: With Craig Wilson out six to eight weeks with a finger injury, Ward is playing every day at first base and making the most of the opportunity. He's batting .333 with six homers and 12 RBIs in May.

7. Nook Logan, Tigers: He's batted ninth for most of the season, but manager Alan Trammell has to be thinking about moving Logan to the leadoff spot, which would increase his fantasy value. The 25-year-old speedster has hit all year, picking things up over the past week by going 13 for 29. If he keeps that hitting up, he has to steal more bases (four this season).

8. Tyler Walker, Giants: Walker is the latest pitcher to close for the Giants. After Jim Brower failed in the role, Walker has picked up saves in the Giants' last two wins.

9. David Newhan, Orioles: With Sammy Sosa sidelined (see below), Newhan's playing time will increase significantly. His numbers are ugly right now, but he had a good game Sunday and it's going to take some time for him to get used to big-league pitching again. Remember, he hit .311 with eight HRs and 54 RBIs in 95 games last season.

10. Juan Rincon, Twins: In his first game back from his suspension for testing positive for steroids, he promptly blew a save. But the middle reliever bounced back Sunday with a scoreless inning in which he struck out the side against Texas. He should be ready to vulture some wins.

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1. Jeff Bagwell, Astros: Bagwell, who went on the 15-day disabled list May 4 because of pain in the shoulder, is slated for surgery. The word is the slugger may not return until September -- if at all.

2. Carlos Zambrano, Cubs: After throwing 136 pitches in his previous start, Zambrano came up with a forearm injury while pitching Sunday against the Nationals. The diagnosis is tennis elbow. His status for his next start is up in the air, but you might want to sit Zambrano for a start or two to see how he reacts.

3. Victor Diaz, Mets: He filled in well (.294, .423 OBP, four homers, 15 RBIs, 17 runs scored) for Mike Cameron and became a fan favorite at Shea. But with the Mets' pitching staff in a numbers crunch, Diaz became the odd man out and was shipped to Class AAA Norfolk.

4. Sammy Sosa, Orioles: Sosa is making progress in his rehab from a foot injury and reports say he could be back by late next week. But I'd be a little leery of Slammin' Sammy recuperating from a staph infection so quickly. Plus, Baltimore has was played well in Sosa's absence so the club will err on the side of caution when it comes to his return.

5. Chin-Hui Tsao, Rockies: The closer landed on the DL with a shoulder injury for the second time this season. The team is confused about the injury and Tsao is headed for a second opinion. There have been whispers that the shoulder is torn.

6. Victor Martinez, Indians: Many had Martinez as the No. 1 fantasy catcher before the season started. His .210 average has tempered those thoughts. More worrisome are his two homers and 10 RBIs. The biggest problem for Martinez is that the AL is mostly comprises right-handed starters and he's hitting .146 left-handed.

7. Jose Guillen, Nationals: Guillen has played through a badly strained muscle in his right rib cage, and it's affected his hitting. He has five hits in his last 28 at-bats. Manager Frank Robinson has asked Guillen to take some time off to allow the injury to heal.

8. Joel Pineiro, Mariners: It's been a harsh decline for Pineiro, who showed great promise in 2002 and '03. He struggled through all of last (6-11, 4.67 ERA), and continued his demise this season (2-3, 6.52 ERA). The Mariners finally ran out of patience, shipping him off to Class AAA. However, Pineiro is not going to pitch for Tacoma and will continue to work with Seattle pitching coach Bryan Price.

9. Odalis Perez, Dodgers: The left-hander will miss at least one start because of tightness in his pitching shoulder (an MRI showed no structural damage). Los Angeles hopes Perez can return on May 25 at San Francisco.

10. Chan Ho Park, Rangers: Hopefully you didn't get suckered in by his hot April, because Park has come back down to earth. In his three starts this month he's winless, allowing 14 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings pitched.

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