Injuries leave Phillies, fantasy owners pondering many options
Specualtion hyas arisen that Chase Utley's health may require position change
Utley has gotten a cortisone shot in Sprong Training for pain in his right knee
Domonic Brown's surgery will keep him sidelined for first two months of season
The Phillies haven't had an easy camp. While they haven't had the same injury impact that the Cardinals have, losing Adam Wainwright for the season and seeing Chris Carpenter hobbled by a hamstring strain, the injuries to Chase Utley and Domonic Brown have both had the Phillies Phaithful in a lather.
Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote an interesting article about Utley on Tuesday, asking whether moving Utley to LF would reduce wear and tear. The answer might surprise you -- and is worth a read -- but ignores the simple injury risk between positions. There's no takeout slides in LF, there's less twisting and more standing.
The more interesting point in Hagen's article is the assumption that the next step for Utley will be surgery. Utley has a case of patellar tendonitis in his right knee, a simple swelling of the patellar tendon. It is painful and limiting, but is seldom corrected through surgery. Pay close attention over the next few sentences because it's going to be confusing, which is the problem. Utley has patellar tendonitis. Surgery is usually the road seen when there's a case of patellar tendonopathy, or jumper's knee. Surgery is the last resort for the chronic condition of patellar tendonosis, a degenerative change in the patellar tendon. Current studies on surgical intervention for patellar tendonitis are positive, but remember that most studies of this type do not focus on the kind of specific activities or the level of athletic ability that Utley possesses.
Surgery for Utley is a last resort, and while we can assume from given information that the Phillies have tried the basics -- anti-inflammatory medication and injections -- it's hardly a given that he'll head straight to the last resort. Utley remains a "green light" and I am not dropping Utley on any of my draft boards, though it's important to note that last year's traumatic injuries do affect the projection on which this year's value is based. Utley's ability to play both before and after his hip surgery despite pain is a major data point for how he'll deal with this as well.
Domonic Brown's wrist injury is more straightforward. At least it should be. Brown has a fracture of the hamate bone, one of the small bones of the wrist. Due to the placement and the poor record of healing, surgery is often an option and is the route Brown will now go after a couple days of rest and treatment didn't appear to get things headed the right direction. Ken Griffey Jr is often considered an example of the best case scenario in coming back from this surgery, although a more recent one would be Troy Tulowitzki. Dustin Pedroia had this type of fracture in 2007 and was able to play through it.
The surgery will cost Brown about two months, one of the reasons they were quick to go for the scalpel here. After he returns, it's likely that he would lose some power and bat speed in the short term, though this almost always comes back in full by the six-month post-operative period. In the short term. Brown's fantasy value is hurt, balanced by the uptick for Ben Francisco, who should be a solid fantasy OF through the first half of the season, whether Brown has surgery or not. Brown does become something of a sleeper, especially in keeper leagues, since Brown's long term value does not suffer from this kind of injury, surgery or not.
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