Under The Knife: Cano adds to lengthy injury concerns for Yanks
Tightness in hip has Yankees concerned about getting Robinson Cano rest
Observers feel Joey Votto is hitting well in rehab but needs confidence in knee
Nationals plan to keep Stephen Strasburg healthy has shown lack of creativity
It's been an interesting season. Not too long ago, I was in Frisco (AA) and got a chance to see Jurickson Profar play. I was impressed. I was more impressed when I got the chance to see him make his major league debut Sunday in Cleveland. Watching a 19-year old hit a home run in his first at-bat reminds me just how great this game is and how good the future is going to be. It's been one heck of a season -- a lot has happened between that day in Frisco and this weekend in Cleveland -- but there's more to come.
Powered by September dreams, on to the injuries:
It might be quicker to talk about who's not dealing with some sort of injury with the Yankees right now. (CC Sabathia is fine, by the way.) The Yankees got Rodriguez back right at the expected spot, in between the five and six-week mark. While he DHed on Monday, he's able to play the field. The Yankees want to easy him back in, but realize that they need whatever boost Rodriguez can offer in the face of the Mark Reynolds onslaught this weekend. The Yanks are worried about Cano, who felt hip tightness over the weekend. He was back out on the field Monday after treatment, but this is going to be a maintenance situation. There's a lot of noise, but a lack of signal on what's going on. Given that he's playing, it's something of a positive sign, though any injury to Cano would be a brutal shot to the Yankees hopes of not just getting to October, but getting deep into October. If the hip continues to "grab," the Yankees will have to find him a way to get rest. The expanded rosters should help some.
Teixeira took batting practice on Monday, and while he felt better, he's not going to return in the next couple days. If this wasn't September (or had the injury not happened so close to September's roster expansion), Teixeira would have likely hit the DL. He's looking at about 10 days back to being in the roster from the original injury and given the injuries around him, it's unlikely the Yankees would have chosen to go a man down during that period at any other time. He should be fine once he does come back, but the muscle strain won't allow them to rush him back either.
Things are less dire for Granderson. His hamstring strain was enough to keep him out of the lineup on Monday, but he did pinch hit (and strike out ... again), so he's not far away. He'll likely be back in the lineup in the next few days, though because he played on Monday, there's no ERD above.
Finally, the Yankees are going to be without Nova a bit longer than expected. The initial word from inside the Bronx was that Nova would be like Sabathia -- out the minimum and back and rested at that point. Nova threw on Sunday, but his cuff has some lingering inflammation and isn't recovering normally after any throwing. That's the big concern at this point. If that doesn't clear up or at least improve over his next couple throwing sessions this week, the Yanks might be forced to shift him to the pen. That would force a reliance on Freddy Garcia in the playoffs that no one seems comfortable with. Those pen sessions this week will be absolutely key for the Yankees come October, so watch this closely
I stopped by Dayton (A) on Thursday evening on my way to Cleveland, hoping to catch a glimpse of Votto during his rehab. Instead, I just missed him, but got to talk to plenty of people who'd seen him in his previous games. The nearly unanimous verdict was that he could rake, but he lacked confidence in the knee. Some of that might be proprioceptive, but some might be pain. Votto's pushed this rehab before and the Reds are having to pull the reins, always hard to do on a star player. The lead the Reds have opened up in the division should help, but players like Votto don't usually notice that. Votto is going to play one more game, this time with Louisville (AAA), who was in Indianapolis. (Yes, I just missed him again, and worse, I missed Jose Diaz at 2B!) Votto went 0-for-3, facing the equivalent of a bullpen game for the Indy Indians, who are prepping for the playoffs. The Reds didn't get much of a look at Votto, but reports are that he will be back on the field for the big club on Tuesday. If you can afford to wait, watching Votto for a couple games isn't the worst idea for his fantasy owners.
Furcal is in a tough spot. An awkward throw -- awkward, not unusual -- led to a clear problem with his elbow. He knew instantly that something was wrong and initial tests leaned to the worst case, that he'd torn his UCL. He did, but MRIs showed that the ligament is on the edge for surgery. Officially a Grade II sprain, most surgeons will replace the ligament somewhere between a 20 and 33 percent tearing. It's safe to assume that Furcal's is in that range. He'll try to rehab through it, which is something the Cardinals have some experience with, getting Albert Pujols through the same thing almost a decade ago. Furcal will rehab for the next six weeks in hopes that he can avoid surgery, but because of the timeline, if he does need the surgery, the start of his '13 season is in jeopardy. The Cards seem to have some confidence that Furcal will end up more like Pujols than Carl Crawford. One possibility is that Furcal will move to 2B to save his elbow, but they've got plenty of time before that decision has to be made.
Compare what Beltran has been able to do over the last couple seasons to what Grady Sizemore has been able to do. The Mets gave up a year of production from Beltran in hopes of keeping him away from microfracture surgery. They traded him away and saw him sign with another NL team, so it's easy to say now that the Mets didn't get true value for their long-term decision. Don't think other players aren't noticing (or that someone like Sizemore wouldn't consider heading to Queens) that kind of decision and work. Beltran slid on the warning track this weekend and much like Votto's knee, the slide caused some inflammation and stress inside the knee. Since Beltran's knees are fragile, this is more concerning than a simple traumatic stress would be for a 'normal' player. Beltran is day to day, but the Cardinals will have to be very careful with this one, erring way on the side of caution. There's no way to judge the ERD on this one from the information I have. It doesn't sound like it will be too long; honestly I wouldn't be surprised if he was back this week. Then again, it is going to have to be a very tough decision to put him back out there, which will make it tough to push it at all. I don't envy the Cardinals on this one. Watch it closely and be wary even once he gets back out there.
The Nats kind of put a date on Stephen Strasburg's shutdown, saying that he'd make one or two more starts, with the latter coming on Sept. 12 against the Mets. Enough had been written by myself and others, so that I don't want to repeat things here, but I do think that the closeness of Strasburg's shutdown to the end of the season -- a miss of maybe three starts -- shows just how little creativity was used in working this so-called plan. Even just adjusting a couple starts around the All-Star break would have put the Nats in a far better position. While everyone else debates the plan, I'd like to focus on how this plan -- if it existed -- was executed. Yes, I'm still dubious of it but am willing to take GM Mike Rizzo at his word since he's been consistent. The only doubt I have at this stage is the conspicuous silence of ownership on this issue. I've said many times that there's a scenario where the Lerners pop up and say "We're playing to win," overruling their baseball men. The downside there is that it would kneecap Rizzo after having built a winner, which reminds us that unless the Nats win the World Series and Strasburg is healthy for the next half-decade, there's going to be a lot of room for second guessing.
Jeff Niemann came back from his leg injury, but his shoulder acted up. Cascade? Probably. Whatever the cause, he's out indefinitely. If his season is done, that doesn't help the Rays in their playoff push (or playoff rotation) ... Ian Kinsler's back tightness was less an issue than a good excuse to get Profar in the lineup. It worked out well for everyone and Kinsler was back in the lineup Monday. Look for Profar to get occasional playing time, but if he gets 10 games at 2B, his fantasy value will explode ... Troy Tulowitzki closed out the AAA season in Colorado Springs. He should be ready to be activated Tuesday, but the Rockies are looking long term. Wait for official word, which will come after my deadline ... Peter Bourjos was activated after this minimum DL stay. His wrist likely would have been ready well before the minimum, but the Angels didn't want to wait given his role. He should be a decent source of steals over the last month as the Angels will have to be more aggressive ... Josh Willingham was back in the lineup Monday after a minor hamstring issue on Sunday. The Twins will be a bit careful with him, so watch to see if he misses some games here and there over the next week, if you're in a daily league ... Mike Morse's thumb acted up again after he got jammed. Pitchers know to go inside on him with this lingering issue. The Nats will need to buy him some rest at some point ... Placido Polanco is only available in emergencies due to his continued back problems. The Phillies may shut him down soon anyway ... Roberto Hernandez was expected to be ready to go Saturday, but facing the Rangers lineup can make a lot of pitchers take things slow. There's no clarity on when Hernandez will be back ... Brett Lawrie is taking swings and has not been shut down. That doesn't mean the Blue Jays are going to bring him back. I'll keep watching ... JP Arencibia is "a bit behind schedule" according to reports and sources in his comeback from a fractured hand. He could still hit the Sept. 10 goal, but it's more likely that the Jays will let it slide back to make sure their C doesn't get re-injured for nothing ... Ever see those padded seats at the front of the stadium where they bring you the food? They're great for watching but the food service is overrated. Worse, a stray bat put the girl a couple seats down from me into this column. I'm not sure if she broke her arm, but they did have to take her to check ... No one is asking if Kris Medlen is on PEDs? I'm joking. No one should have to doubt when someone has passed all their tests, but man, he's on some kind of run ... How many GM jobs will be open this off-season? I've talked to several people around the league and the current thought is that there will be two, maybe three, but no more. Ben Cherington is safe, while Ned Colletti seems safe, especially with a playoff run, though his power has been curtailed by an active Stan Kasten. The Padres, Mariners, Indians, and Brewers all seem to be leaning toward consistency, which leaves Mike Hill in Miami and Dayton Moore as the most at-risk ... Forgive the short weeks here the last two. With travel, holidays and the start of the NFL season, there's a lot going on. You can always e-mail (link above) if you have questions.