D.J. Short

Baseball Daily Dose

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Nats Lose Zimmerman

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Nationals are collectively batting just .217/.321/.328 with a .649 OPS over the first nine games of the season. Pretty ugly stuff, huh? Now let's see what they can do without their best hitter for at least the next two weeks.

Ryan Zimmerman is expected to be placed on the disabled list Tuesday with an abdominal strain. It's the very same injury that sidelined him for a few days during the early part of the Grapefruit League schedule. He re-injured himself while sliding into second base during Saturday's game against the Mets.

It's an awful blow for the Nationals, who may forge ahead with Ian Desmond and Rick Ankiel in the top two spots in their lineup like we saw during Sunday's game. In a word, yuck. Considering Adam LaRoche is dealing with a groin strain in addition to a shoulder injury, Jayson Werth won't have much in the way of protection when his former teammates visit Nats Park this week.

If you're really hurting for replacements at the hot corner, two under the radar stopgap possibilities are Edwin Encarnacion (Yahoo: 10 percent owned, ESPN: 81.9 percent) and Wilson Betemit (Yahoo: 1 percent owned, ESPN: 0.2 percent). Mike Aviles opened the year as the starting third baseman in Kansas City, but is batting just .115 (3-for-26) to begin the season. Meanwhile, Betemit is off to a hot start with the bat, including a 4-for-4 day against the Tigers on Sunday. He should play against most right-handers moving forward.

While the Nationals and fantasy owners hope for a speedy recovery from Zimmerman, here are some more news and notes from a busy Monday around the baseball world.

- It's amazing what one good night early on in the season can do for your batting line. Sam Fuld entered Monday's action with a .227 batting average -- which honestly is pretty good for the Rays' lineup right now -- but a 4-for-6 day against the Red Sox pushed his batting average to .321 (9-for-28) over his first eight games.

Fuld hit two doubles, a triple and his second major league home run. He needed a single to hit for the cycle, but flew out in the seventh and doubled (how dare he?) in the ninth. Nights like these will probably be few and far between for the 29-year-old New Hampshire native, but he does have five stolen bases over his first eight games this season. There's a good chance he's already gone in competitive leagues, but he makes for a fine pickup in AL-only leagues or mixed formats that use five outfielders.

- Now here's an interesting one. Rafael Furcal was forced to leave Monday's game against the Giants after six innings with a broken left thumb. He suffered the injury on a slide while stealing third base in the fifth inning. There's no clear timetable for his return -- he's scheduled to visit a hand specialist in Los Angeles on Tuesday -- but early word has him out 4-6 weeks.

According to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Furcal actually hinted at retirement after hearing the diagnosis, though it's very likely that he made those comments out of frustration. The 33-year-old has a $12 million option for 2012 that vests automatically if he reaches 600 plate appearances. An extended absence could really hurt him in the wallet.

As for replacements in your fantasy lineup, mixed leaguers should look at the versatile Maicer Izturis while those in NL-only leagues should pick up Jamey Carroll, who figures to see most of the time at shortstop in Furcal's absence.

Here are some noteworthy pitching lines from Monday's action:

Mat Latos: 6.0, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K's vs. CIN - Latos gave up a pair of homers, but all in all, not bad for his season debut. His velocity was nearly identical to what we saw last season, so use him with confidence moving forward.

Tyler Chatwood: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K's vs. CLE - Didn't allow a hit over his final three innings, but probably not ready for prime-time quite yet.

Madison Bumgarner: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K's vs. LAD - Much too soon to give up on this draft day sleeper, but his poor Cactus League has crossed over to the regular season. Might be worth benching him against the D-Backs this weekend.

Daisuke Matsuzaka: 2.0 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2 K's vs. TB -- An embarrassing showing against a pathetic offense. Tim Wakefield could be in this rotation soon.

Nelson Figueroa: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K's vs. CHC - This could be a long season for the Astros, but I'm counting down the days until Jordan Lyles is ready for the big leagues. Take note, NL-only folks.

Mitch Talbot: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K's vs. LAA - Yeah, this happened. Remember, Talbot got off to a nice start last season before posting a 5.29 ERA over 11 starts after the All-Star break. He's a poor option for strikeouts anyway, so don't go crazy here.

Felix Hernandez: 6.0 IP, 12 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 6 K's vs. TOR - He'll be fine, just in case there was any doubt.

National League Quick Hits: Clayton Kershaw struck out seven over 6 2/3 shutout innings in a win over the Giants on Monday … Jon Garland (oblique) is expected to return from the disabled list Friday against the Cardinals… Carlos Gonzalez (flu) singled and drove in three runs in his return to the lineup Monday … Zack Greinke (rib) is expected to throw live batting practice twice this week … Jose Reyes tripled twice in Monday's loss to the Rockies … Jonathan Lucroy (finger) was activated from the disabled list Monday and will make his season debut Tuesday… Lance Berkman homered twice in Monday's win over the Diamondbacks … Kosuke Fukudome is day-to-day with a mild left hamstring strain … Jair Jurrjens (oblique) is on track to return from the disabled list Saturday after allowing two runs over six innings in a rehab start with Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday … Takashi Saito was placed on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain … Casey Blake was out of the lineup for the second straight day Monday with a deep thigh bruise suffered over the weekend … Clint Barmes swung a bat Monday for the first time since fracturing his left hand in March … Dustin Moseley will remain in the Padres' starting rotation … Ubaldo Jimenez (thumb) is expected to throw 85 pitches in an extended spring training game Wendesday …

American League Quick Hits: Magglio Ordonez is expected to miss a couple days with right Achilles tendinitis … Matt Thornton was credited Monday with his third blown save in as many tries … Alexi Ogando left Monday's outing against the Tigers with a blister on his index finger, but is expected to make his next start … The Athletics announced a five-year, $30.5 million contract with Trevor Cahill on Monday … Scott Downs tossed a scoreless eighth inning Monday in his first appearance since coming off the disabled list … Adam Dunn (appendectomy) may not return until Friday … Andrew Bailey (forearm) threw 20 pitches off a mound Monday … Colby Lewis will miss his scheduled start this week to be present for the birth of his daughter … Chone Figgins exited Monday's game with a left thumb contusion … Asdrubal Cabrera hit his fourth home run Monday … Franklin Gutierrez lost 15 pounds with his recent stomach issue, but could play rehab games with Triple-A Tacoma this week … Kurt Suzuki singled in the sixth inning to break up Mark Buehrle's no-hit bid and hit a go-ahead homer in the 10th inning Monday… David Aardsma (hip) is set to throw a simulated inning Tuesday … Grady Sizemore went 2-for-4 with two RBI Monday in a rehab game with Double-A Akron … Brandon Morrow (forearm) will make his second rehab start Tuesday with Single-A Dunedin … Jack Wilson returned to the starting lineup Monday after being benched over the weekend … Rajai Davis was placed on the disabled list with an ankle injury, which makes Corey Patterson a worthwhile pickup in AL-only formats ...

D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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