D.J. Short

Spring Training Daily

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Hanley Hurting

Thursday, March 21, 2013


While many fantasy owners are still reeling from the disappointing news that Padres' third baseman Chase Headley might not make his season debut until May, another big name may also miss significant time due to a thumb injury.

Hanley Ramirez's status for the start of the season is in doubt due to a jammed left thumb suffered Wednesday night during the World Baseball Classic final against Puerto Rico. He hurt himself diving for a ball at third base in the third inning. While Ramirez stayed in the game long enough to single in his next at-bat, Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena eventually pulled him for precautionary reasons.

We will have more clarity on the situation once Wednesday's MRI results are known, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that the training staff has prepared him with multiple scenarios.

"The optimistic side is…it's just a sprain and it's a couple weeks," Mattingly said. "The pessimistic side is it could something major and it's more long-term, eight to 10 weeks."

That's a pretty wide range, so Ramirez's ADP (Average Draft Position) in fantasy leagues could vary greatly depending upon the all-important diagnosis. Still, even if we're talking about an injury of the two-week variety, Ramirez might not be ready for the start of the season.

Dee Gordon would be the most interesting fill-in for Ramirez from a fantasy perspective because of his stolen base ability, but Mattingly indicated that he would likely move Luis Cruz over to shortstop and alternate between Juan Uribe, Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Nick Punto at the hot corner. And that's pretty yawntastic.

 

UPDATE: The MRI results are in and they're not good. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that Ramirez tore a ligament in his thumb and will require surgery. He's expected to miss around eight weeks, which means he likely won't make his season debut until late May. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said yesterday that Cruz is Plan A to fill in at shortstop, but the speedy Gordon would be worth a look in deeper mixed leagues if he gets a chance.


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Jeter Headed for DL?

Derek Jeter's goal all winter has been to be in the starting lineup for Opening Day on April 1 against the Red Sox. And all was going according to plan. Until this week, anyway.

Jeter was scratched from Tuesday's lineup due to mild inflammation in his surgically-repaired left ankle and was given a cortisone shot on Wednesday. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman isn't sure whether the setback is significant, but he hasn't ruled out the possibility that Jeter could miss the start of the season or potentially need a stint on the disabled list.

Jeter is hitting .273 (3-for-11) over five games during Grapefruit League play. This includes three games at shortstop, though he didn't play more than five innings in any of them. The Yankees likely want him to play on back-to-back days and make it through a full nine innings before the start of the regular season, but time is running out.

I wouldn't bet against Jeter, even at age 38, but Eduardo Nunez figures to handle shortstop if he needs extra time. It's no stretch to think that Jeter will need regular rest once he's ready to go, even if it's out of the DH spot, so Nunez could take on sneaky value in AL-only and even some deeper mixed leagues this season.

Scare For Hanson

Not too long ago, Tommy Hanson was considered one of the game's best young starting pitchers. However, Wednesday gave us a brief reminder why the Braves were content to trade him to the Angels for reliever Jordan Walden over the winter.

Hanson was forced to leave Wednesday's Cactus League outing against the Indians after just three innings because of tightness in his right triceps muscle. For now, his exit appears to be precautionary. In fact, he still expects to make his next scheduled start. But this isn't what you want to see from someone who has dealt with shoulder and back issues over the past two years and has underwhelmed with his velocity this spring.

This might come as a surprise, but Hanson owns an underwhelming 4.96 ERA in 32 starts since the All-Star break in 2011. And while the 26-year-old right-hander regularly sat in the 92-93 mph range on his fastball between 2009 and 2010, he averaged just 89.7 mph on his heater last season. Even if Wednesday's triceps issue is minor, as Hanson claims it was, there are enough warning signs here to let someone else take the risk in fantasy leagues.

Frenzy Over Freddie

If you were hoping to snag Freddie Freeman as a sleeper in your upcoming fantasy draft, well, he's not really cooperating with your plan.

Freeman had a huge day at the dish Wednesday against the Pirates, as he went 4-for-4 with two home runs, a double and four RBI. The 23-year-old first baseman now leads all hitters this spring with seven home runs while his 15 RBI place him second behind new teammate Justin Upton, who has knocked in 16 runs.

Freeman is coming off an uneven sophomore campaign, as he was bothered by vision issues and a lingering index finger injury, but he still managed to produce 23 home runs, 94 RBI and a .796 OPS. He also reduced his strikeout rate slightly while improving his walk rate. Maybe he won't be a .300 hitter anytime soon, but I like the chances of his batting average going up in 2013 given his penchant for hitting line drives. He's also a good bet to top 100 RBI for the first time since he's expected to bat cleanup in a talented Braves' lineup. His current ADP (Average Draft Position) at Yahoo! is 81.5, but I still think there's room for profit, even with his stock on the upswing.

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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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