Under The Knife: Kershaw's hip issue leaves Dodgers in quandary
New diagnosis has left doctors split on repair and rehab for Clayton Kershaw
Injection of lubricant into knees is something Josh Hamilton may need to repeat
Fantasy owners should steer clear of Joe Mauer if he continues to play catcher
There's no real use of the DL in September, so this time of year gives us a unique opportunity to get near-final injury stats while baseball is still being played. I won't even hint at the likely Dick Martin Award finalists, but at the other end of the spectrum, the news isn't good. We may have more 1000-plus day teams than ever before, with nearly a third of the league already there. The Rays, A's, Orioles and Nats are all over 1,000 days lost, while the Yankees take up their traditional position at the tail end of the injury stats and the lead of the AL East. Losing Mariano Rivera for the season should be worse than losing David Aardsma, but having Rafael Soriano step in seamlessly shows that even that assumption can be misleading. There are more advanced measures that give a better picture, but days and dollars lost tell an important story. Teams can overcome injuries, but it's much easier to win when you don't have to do so.
Powered by far too much caffeine -- seriously, I would fail MLB's test right now by a lot -- on to the injuries:
News that Kershaw's hip strain is actually a torn acetabular labrum is about the last thing the Dodgers wanted to hear. While the Dodgers have seen some superficial improvement in their injury stats, no team has the depth to lose its ace while fighting for a playoff spot. The surgery itself isn't that big a deal; several players, including pitchers, have had it in MLB and come back with no problem. The question now is whether the Dodgers' medical staff can find any way to keep Kershaw functional over the next couple weeks. Doctors I spoke with emphasized that this is a relatively new diagnosis, made possible by improvements in MR imaging, so there wasn't much agreement on what could and could not be done. The Dodgers are forward-thinking and flexible, but this might be too much of a challenge for any team. Stephen Fife will be Kershaw's replacement, though it sounds as if the team will try to skip that slot as much as possible.
Hamilton had an injection of lubricant into his knee last week and it seems to have made a difference. Hamilton has been mostly healthy in putting together a season in which he's hit 42 homers, but questions of wear have come up more often. Hamilton's next contract could depend a lot on health and availability much more than things he did a decade ago. The need for Synvisc injections does indicate that Hamilton may have more problems down the line, but managing that issue is possible. Since his last injection back in April, Hamilton's had a pretty good run. Whatever team spends big on him will have plenty of budget for a couple more of these types of injections. Hamilton should focus on which of the teams willing to sign him have the best record of maintaining players like him. It could be the biggest advantage the Rangers have.
Beltre strained his shoulder on a great diving play Wednesday night. The Rangers took a precautionary scan, but there was no severe damage. Essentially, Beltre just overextended his shoulder, but was strong enough that nothing moved out of place. The muscle got the worst of it, leaving him sore. The pain is in his left shoulder, so it shouldn't affect his throws, but the Rangers are keeping him at DH for the time being. This is mostly a precaution. Beltre is always a streaky guy, but watch to see if he gets his power back over the next couple days.