Last Wednesday, Cliff Lee turned in one of the best starts of the 2012 season, spinning 10 shutout innings in a pitcher’s duel with Matt Cain. As it turns out, though, that 10th inning was a costly one, as it was during that frame that he strained his left oblique, an injury that’s landed him on the disabled list.
The good news is that Lee doesn’t think the injury is too severe and is anticipating a short stay on the DL.
“We were debating on whether to just miss a start or go on the 15-day DL,” he told on CSNPhilly.com. “So we erred on the side of caution and played it safe. I can't really argue with that. The past couple of days it was pretty sore. But today it felt better than yesterday. We're heading in the right direction. Hopefully I’ll miss just a couple of starts and it will be back to normal.”
While it’s great the Lee is optimistic, we must feed his fantasy owners a dose of reality. In nearly every case, players with oblique ailments are sidelined for at least three weeks, and most of the time, it’s more like a 4-6 week injury. So while Lee seems confident that he’ll be activated on or around May 4 when he’s first eligible, the smart money says we probably won’t see him until late May.
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Lee isn’t the only frontline starter that went down over the weekend. Daniel Hudson also landed on the DL, and his injury could potentially be more serious.
The Diamondbacks right-hander is dealing with an impingement in his pitching shoulder, an injury that he evidently first suffered in his second of three outings this season. The good news is that an MRI has come back clean. But, anytime it’s a shoulder injury for a pitcher, there’s always some concern.
Hudson admitted to the Arizona Republic that the injury is “scary, especially if you've never felt it before. All the worst thoughts go through your mind." The D’Backs haven’t put any timetable on the right-hander yet, but we’ve got to think that it will certainly be longer than a minimum stay on the DL.
As far as who will replace Hudson in the rotation, manager Kirk Gibson isn’t saying, but all signs are pointing to Wade Miley. Miley holds a 3.12 ERA and 1.27 WHIP early on, though that’s come with a 2/4 K/BB ratio over 8 2/3 innings out of the Arizona bullpen. He was also less than impressive last season, posting a 4.50 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and 25/18 K/BB ratio over 40 frames.
Between Hudson’s injury and Josh Collmenter’s struggles (10.22 ERA, 1.70 WHIP in three starts), we might see top prospect Trevor Bauer sooner rather than later. Bauer has been dominant at Double-A Mobile, posting a 0.40 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 22 2/3 innings. He’s certainly worth a stash now in leagues where he’s still available.
It’s not often that you trade for a guy batting .070/.149/.070 hoping he can give you an offensive boost, but that’s what the Red Sox have done.
The man I’m referring to, of course, is Marlon Byrd, who was off to a slow start with the Cubbies before a weekend trade landed him in Beantown. It’s obviously not fair to put a ton of stock in his slow start, as Byrd was a .281/.339/.420 career hitter coming into the season and has produced pretty well for the Rangers and Cubs over the last few years when he’s been healthy. With Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder) and Carl Crawford (wrist, elbow) on the disabled list, the Red Sox were in desperate need for some outfield depth, and Byrd looks like a good short-term fix. He figures to draw most of the starts in center field until Ellsbury returns.
More interesting than Byrd landing in Boston is what the Cubs will do to fill their now-vacated spot in center field. For now, they’re expected to use a combination of Tony Campana, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather there. Campana received the start in center Sunday and went 1-for-2 with a single and a walk from the No. 2 spot in the batting order. Campana has no power, but he can really run, as evidenced by his 24 stolen bases in 155 plate appearances last year for the Cubs, as well as his 152 career swipes across 326 minor league games. Even if he only gets four starts, he could steal 1-2 bases per week.
But, while Campana isn’t a bad fill-in option for the short term for fantasy owners, Brett Jackson is the team’s center fielder of the future, and it might not be long before it becomes the present. The Cubs would like Jackson to cut down on his strikeouts (he’s whiffed 21 times in 71 at-bats at Triple-A Iowa), and he’s currently batting just .239 this season. But, he’s got a couple homers and a couple steals and profiles as potentially a 20/20 man down the line. The former first-round pick isn’t a bad guy to stash away if you have roster space.
National League Quick Hits: Chris Narveson will likely need surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Marco Estrada will fill his rotation spot for now, but top prospect Wily Peralta could eventually be an option … Kyle Blanks needs season-ending surgery to repair the labrum in his left shoulder. It’s the third time in the last four years that the 25-year-old’s season has ended due to injury … Kyle Lohse’s fantastic April continued Sunday, as he tossed seven innings of one-run ball to lower his ERA to 0.99 and WHIP to 0.66. It won’t last over the long haul, but feel free to plug him into your lineup for now … Jon Jay has returned to St. Louis to have his shoulder checked out after he felt renewed soreness in batting practice. It’s possible he’ll need a DL stint … Ryan Zimmerman anticipates returning to the lineup Tuesday after missing a game with shoulder inflammation … Freddy Sanchez (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment with High-A San Jose Monday and could be ready for activation in early May … Mets manager Terry Collins has confirmed that Frank Francisco is still his closer despite his rough start. Francisco owners might want to grab Jon Rauch just in case … John Mayberry has been on the bench for six of the last eight games, as Juan Pierre has started to seal up the left field job against right-handed pitching … Allen Craig (knee) homered in his first rehab game for High-A Palm Beach. He could be activated before the end of the month … Tim Stauffer (elbow) had a successful bullpen session Saturday and could be ready to start a rehab assignment later this week … Takashi Saito had a setback with his calf over the weekend, delaying activation from the DL … Jordan Schafer belted a grand slam against the Dodgers Sunday. He’s batting .263/.373/.368 with a couple homers and six steals so far and should be on mixed league radars … Juan Francisco banged out his third home run Sunday. He hasn’t gotten a ton of playing time, but there’s some appeal with him if he ever does see the at-bats.
American League Quick Hits: Sergio Santos has landed on the disabled list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. He’ll be checked out by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles Monday to make sure he doesn’t have any structural damage. Francisco Cordero will pitch the ninth inning for the Blue Jays while Santos is out … Jarrod Parker will replace the demoted Graham Godfrey in the A’s rotation. He’s worth an add in all formats, as there’s plenty of upside … Nick Blackburn (shoulder) has been cleared to make his Tuesday start after completing a bullpen session Sunday with no issues … Adrian Beltre will have an MRI on his injured left hamstring Monday. He’s confident that he’ll be fine, but the Rangers want to make sure … Dontrelle Willis is reportedly unhappy with his bullpen role at Triple-A Norfolk and could be released by the Orioles … Coco Crisp has missed five straight starts with an inner ear problem, but he’s expected to return to the lineup soon … Luke Hughes was claimed off waivers by the A’s and is expected to compete for playing time at third base immediately … Nolan Reimold has missed three of the last four starts due to neck spasms. The hot-hitting outfielder could be ready to play Tuesday after Monday’s off day … Lorenzo Cain (groin) began a rehab assignment with Double-A Northwest Arkansas over the weekend and could be activated from the disabled list on Thursday, the first day he’s eligible … Carl Crawford will have his left elbow checked and could be cleared to start a throwing program soon. Crawford, of course, originally went on the DL following surgery on his wrist, but the elbow has been more of an issue lately. The Red Sox are pleased with his progress, though … Alex Rios had three hits and drove in three runs Sunday, pushing his batting line to .333/.396/.511 for the year. It’s early, but he’s on his way at this point to bouncing back from last year’s disaster … Francisco Liriano was pummeled again Sunday, pushing his ERA to 11.02 and WHIP to 2.33 for the year. His rotation spot is in jeopardy … Tyson Ross has put up two straight nice starts since being promoted, putting himself on mixed league radars. There’s some intrigue there, especially for home starts.