D.J. Short

Baseball Daily Dose

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Absent Albert

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


If anybody can headline the Daily Dose on back-to-back days, it's Albert Pujols.

While the initial diagnosis of Sunday's injury was a sprained left wrist, we learned Monday that Pujols will miss 4-6 weeks with a small fracture in his left forearm. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote late Monday night that Pujols will need four weeks in a soft cast, but it may be even longer before he begins baseball activities. As a result, we're likely looking at a return somewhere in the middle of August.

Things could have been much worse under the circumstances, but Monday's diagnosis is still a tough blow for fantasy owners considering that Pujols was finally back to being himself at the plate. He was batting .317/.419/.778 with eight homers, 14 RBI and a 1.197 OPS over 74 plate appearances in June prior to the injury.

It's hard to say that anybody "benefits" from Pujols' absence, but Lance Berkman is expected to move to first base while Colby Rasmus and Jon Jay will play everyday in the outfield. While losing Pujols hurts, this is actually a positive development for those of you worried about Berkman's durability.

If you're scrounging the waiver wire for Pujols replacements, Justin Smoak (.279 with four homers and .907 OPS this month), Mitch Moreland (.296 with nine homers in 216 at-bats this season) and the widely available Freddie Freeman (batting .297 with four homers and 19 RBI since the start of May) are some names to keep in mind in mixed leagues.

While fantasy owners hope Pujols can return with a vengeance, here are some more news and notes from a busy Monday around baseball.

- Hanley Ramirez isn't off to the best start with his new skipper Jack McKeon. He was benched Monday against the Angels because McKeon "didn't like the way he was running" during Sunday's game. Ramirez struck out in a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth inning (on an awful call by home plate umpire Dan Bellino) and is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday.

Monday's benching would bother fantasy owners more if Ramirez was actually producing, but he's batting just .200 for the season and is 2-for-19 (.105) since returning from the disabled list last Tuesday. It will be interesting to see just where he bats Tuesday, as McKeon prefers Emilio Bonifacio leading off and had Gaby Sanchez batting third Monday for just the second time this season. The struggling Ramirez was dropped down to the sixth spot on Saturday and Sunday.

- Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Monday that Adrian Gonzalez could play in the outfield for a couple games when the Red Sox begin a nine-game roadtrip in National League parks on Friday. It's a tough call for Francona, as he attempts to keep both Gonzalez and David Ortiz in the starting lineup during interleague play.

Gonzalez has only played right field once during his career as a member of the Rangers back in 2005. While this arrangement would help Ortiz owners, it's unlikely that the Red Sox will actually risk the health of their $154 million first baseman. Boston's lineup is still more potent than most, even without the presence of Carl Crawford and Gonzalez or Ortiz.

National League Quick Hits: Ryan Braun was scratched from Monday's lineup with an upper respiratory viral infection … Hunter Pence (elbow) hopes to return to the starting lineup as soon as Tuesday … Martin Prado (calf, knee) was recently cleared to begin upper body work, but he's not close to resuming baseball activities … Clayton Kershaw struck out 11 in a two-hit complete game shutout of the Tigers on Monday night … Tommy Hanson (shoulder) hopes he could return from the disabled list as soon as he's eligible on June 28 … Mike Stanton (eye infection) missed his third straight game Monday … Shaun Marcum (hip) threw about 25 pitches in a bullpen session Monday, but the Brewers have yet to decide whether he will start Wednesday … Michael Bourn stole his MLB-leading 30th base in Monday's loss to the Rangers … Chipper Jones (groin) hopes to return to the lineup Tuesday … Johnny Cueto was scratched from Monday's scheduled start with neck soreness, but is expected to go Tuesday … Johan Santana (shoulder) has resumed throwing off a mound … Craig Kimbrel has saved back-to-back games and hasn't allowed a run over his last five appearances … Charlie Morton has allowed 15 runs over his last three starts … Brandon Beachy (oblique) will be activated from the disabled list to start Wednesday against the Blue Jays … Jon Garland (shoulder) has yet to begin a throwing program … David Freese (hand) will begin his minor league rehab assignment Tuesday … The Dodgers are hopeful that Rafael Furcal (oblique) can begin a minor league rehab assignment next Monday … Jonathan Broxton (elbow) is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment Tuesday with Triple-A Albuquerque … The Rockies activated Dexter Fowler from the disabled list Monday and sent him to Triple-A Colorado Springs … Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) will make his final minor league rehab appearance Tuesday with Triple-A Louisville … Marlon Byrd (facial fractured) expects to begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa next Monday … Pirates general manager Neal Huntington indicated Monday that Ryan Doumit (ankle) will not return from the disabled list until late-July …

American League Quick Hits: Josh Beckett was scratched from Tuesday's scheduled start against the Padres due to illness … Adrian Gonzalez drove in three runs against his former team Monday and currently leads the majors with 67 RBI through 72 games … Miguel Cabrera will be given the day off Tuesday … Evan Longoria homered and tied a season-high with four RBI in Monday's win over the Brewers … Derek Jeter (calf) is expected to resume baseball activities this week … Brian Matusz (hamstring) could be pushed back from Friday's scheduled start against the Reds… Carlos Santana homered for the third time in his past four games Monday … Phil Hughes (dead arm) is expected to make his next minor league rehab start Friday with Double-A Trenton … Jeremy Guthrie (back) is on track to start Tuesday against the Pirates … Jed Lowrie will have his shoulder examined Tuesday by Dr. Lewis Yocum … Jeff Niemann (back) returned from the disabled list Monday and tossed six scoreless innings in a win over the Brewers … Andrew Miller allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings in his first start with the Red Sox on Monday night … Andruw Jones was removed from Monday's game against the Reds for precautionary reasons after rolling his ankle… Mark Ellis (hamstring) is expected to rejoin the Athletics on Wednesday, but will likely return as a bench player … Travis Snider (concussion) is scheduled to see a neurologist Tuesday … Orlando Cabrera went 1-for-3 with a walk in his first ever start at third base Monday … Bruce Chen (shoulder) is expected to return from the disabled list to start Friday against the Cubs … Rich Harden (shoulder) struck six over three hitless innings Monday in a minor league rehab appearance with Triple-A Sacramento … Eric Chavez (foot) took batting practice on the field Monday for the first time since going on the disabled list in early May … Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is slated to throw a simulated game Wednesday …


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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