**These reports are prepared by Ryan Dumouchel and Jose Maldonado.
Welcome to the Last Word On Sports 2015 Weekly Injury Report. This will be a series of reports updated every week to give you the insight and advantage you need to make any necessary changes to your lineup. It can be tough trying to decipher whether a particular injury is serious enough to keep a player off the field for an extended amount of time and we here at LWOS want to provide you with the best up to date information available. We will also provide analysis and, at times, bench and minor league player recommendations that will gain more playing time because of an injury. Be smart and don’t let the injury bug ruin your team and your chance for a Fantasy Baseball Championship.
LWOS 2015 Baseball Injury Report Week of March 15
HOMER BAILEY, SP, CINCINNATI REDS
The Injury: Bailey is currently recovering from forearm surgery and should be back by Opening Day.
What It Means: At this point, he still looks on track to be a solid but not spectacular late-round draft pick. He has made recent progress with his recovery as he threw 49 pitches in his most recent bullpen session.
MIGUEL CABRERA, 1B, DETROIT TIGERS
The Injury: Cabrera is currently recovering from foot surgery and could possibly be ready to play on Opening Day.
What It Means: Last week, Cabrera made some additional progress towards coming back as he was cleared to field some ground balls.
Even though this will likely have an impact on his stock, he is still likely to be drafted in the first round. If you are one of those people looking to draft him in the 1st round, pay VERY close attention to how this recovery progresses.
MATT CAIN, SP, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Injury: Cain is currently recovering from elbow surgery that he had in August and should be ready for Opening Day.
What It Means: Cain had his worst season as a pro last year, with a 4.18 ERA & 4.58 FIP. It is possible that these numbers from last year may have been a product of trying to pitch through this injury.
The news regarding Cain’s recovery appears to be positive. He looked very sharp in his first Spring Training start as he retired all six Dodgers hitters that he faced. Best of all, Cain was feeling good after this Spring Training Debut.
RUSNEY CASTILLO, OF, BOSTON RED SOX
The Injury: Castillo has a left oblique strain but could possibly be back by Opening Day.
What It Means: If you are thinking of drafting Castillo, this situation is a must-watch. One major concern is that the chances of him being ready for opening day has decreased as he has yet to play in any Spring Training games.
YOENIS CESPEDES, OF, DETROIT TIGERS
The Injury: Cespedes exited Thursday’s Spring Training game early with Left quadriceps tightness.
What It Means: Currently, this injury is day-to-day so it should not impact his status for Opening Day. While this should not impact his fantasy value, this is a situation that still needs to be watched closely to make sure that it doesn’t linger beyond the current day-to-day prognosis.
PATRICK CORBIN, SP, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
The Injury: Corbin is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery that he had in March and he may be back as early as June.
What It Means: For draft status, best-case scenario would be a late round pick for deeper and NL-only leagues. While he had solid 2013 numbers, 3.41 ERA/7.69 K/9 in most cases Corbin isn’t worth drafting due to the expectation of missed time.
While a partial season of the above numbers may not be worth drafting, Corbin may be a reasonable waiver wire pick up when he returns and if he shows the potential to repeat the numbers that he had in 2013. According to a recent report, Corbin is getting very close to throwing off the mound.
COCO CRISP, OF, OAKLAND ATHLETICS
The Injury: Crisp suffered a right triceps strain on March 8th. His MRI indicated that there was no structural damage and it is possible that Crisp will be back by Opening Day.
What It Means: It is likely that the main impact of this is that Crisp misses some time during Spring Training. He should be good to go but if you were planning to use a late round draft pick on him, we would advise to watch this situation to ensure that he has a quick recovery.
SEAN DOOLITTLE, RP, OAKLAND ATHLETICS
The Injury: Doolittle is currently recovering from a left rotator cuff tear. While a recent ultrasound revealed that this injury is healing, it is unclear when he will be back in action.
What It Means: Doolittle got his first chance to close last year and got 22 SV with a 2.73 ERA & 12.78 K/9. With Doolittle missing the early part of the season that temporarily opens up the closer position for the Athletics. This injury makes the A’s closer situation something that demands strong attention as spring training progresses. One recent report indicates that Tyler Clippard is the most likely player to get an opportunity to close to start this year.
YU DARVISH, SP, TEXAS RANGERS
What It Means: Obviously, this is not good news. If you have already done your draft and used an early round pick to draft Darvish, this is definitely not what you don’t want to hear. If you haven’t done your draft and were thinking about drafting Darvish, it is now official that he will be out for 2015 and now is the time to think about other options.
LUCAS DUDA, 1B, NEW YORK METS
The Injury: Duda has a left intercostal strain. Currently, he appears to be making progress in recovery from this injury.
What It Means: While he is not expected to miss time, this could put a dent on his Fantasy Value. Personally, I had been bullish on his ability to repeat his 30 HR outburst from last year. However, if this is an injury that lingers throughout the season this could impact his main fantasy strength of hitting for power.
Currently, Duda is scheduled to make his Spring Training Debut on Sunday.
JOSE FERNANDEZ, SP, MIAMI MARLINS
The Injury: Fernandez is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and is scheduled to be back by June.
What It Means: For the back end of the draft, it leaves us with an interesting dilemma. Since Fernandez was very dominant over his first 36 starts (2.25 ERA, 10.31 K/9), do you stash him on your roster until he returns from injury or pass in favor of a less talented pitcher with a cleaner bill of health. Despite the expectation of significant missed time, his ADP is at 173.3 based on his pre-injury dominance.
He appears to be making progress in his recovery. He threw a bullpen session last Monday in which he used all of his pitches. While this session was only 25 pitches, the lengths of these sessions should increase as his recovery continues.
ALEX GORDON, OF, KANSAS CITY ROYALS
The Injury: Gordon is recovery from right wrist surgery and is likely to be ready by Opening Day.
What It Means: Gordon continues to make progress in his recovery. Last week, he took batting practice sessions for the first time this spring and is looking more likely to be ready for Opening Day.
JOSH HAMILTON, OF, LOS ANGELES ANGELS
The Injury: Hamilton is currently recovering from shoulder surgery. Also, the ruling regarding his punishment for his relapse has yet to be announced.
What It Means: Over the last few seasons, Hamilton’s value has trended downwards due to a continual stream of injuries and decreased production since signing with the Angels. At this point, he’s likely to at least miss some time due to his injury. While Hamilton is likely to be suspended, one thing to keep in mind is that any suspension he receives would likely start on Opening Day and not when he fully recovered from his injury.
MATT HARVEY, SP, NEW YORK METS
The Injury: Harvey is currently recovering from October 2013 Tommy John surgery and appears on track to be ready by Opening Day. Harvey threw his first bullpen session on Wednesday which went off without a hitch. Harvey made his first Spring Training start on Friday.
What It Means: On Wednesday, he made his second Spring Training start against the Marlins. While he did give up 2 runs in 2 2/3 innings, the majority of his fastballs were in the 94-95 mph range. This is another indication that Harvey could be back to his old-self. In 2013, he threw his fastball at an average speed of 95.4 mph.
Harvey was out the entire 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery but appears on track to have a strong season. If you are thinking of drafting Harvey, it is crucial that you keep a close eye on how he progresses during Spring Training. While there are concerns about how long it will take for him to get back into form and how his innings will be limited, his talent and performance in 2012-2013 is too strong to ignore.
TIM HUDSON, SP, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Injury: Hudson is recovering from right ankle surgery and it is becoming more likely that he will be ready by Opening Day
What It Means: While he does not appear to be on track to miss anytime, the combination of being 39 and recovering from surgery does not exactly spell fantasy value. He made his first Spring Training start on Wednesday in which he threw a scoreless inning.
KENLEY JANSEN, RP, LOS ANGELES DODGERS
The Injury: Jansen is out until late April after having left foot surgery.
What It Means: The good news is that Jansen has taken one step towards recovery as Jansen had the cast removed from his foot and had it replaced with a weight bearing boot which will allow him to increase his workout activity.
The Dodgers closer situation will need to be closely monitored during Spring Training. A lot should be determined between now and then as there are several in-house options that the Dodgers are likely to give some consideration to over the next few weeks for starting the season in the Closer role.
JON JAY, OF, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
The Injury: Jon Jay is currently recovering from left wrist surgery and is likely to be ready by Opening Day.
What It Means: Jay has been making progress in his recovery. So far, he has been able to swing a bat and is getting much closer to seeing some in-game action.
CLIFF LEE, SP, PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
The Injury: Lee exited his Spring Training start on March 8th after experiencing discomfort.
What It Means: The prognosis on his injury is extremely bleak. Not only is this likely to end Lee’s season before it starts, it could possibly end his career.
JONATHAN LUCROY, C, MILWAUKEE BREWERS
The Injury: Lucroy has a right hamstring sprain and is likely to be ready for Opening Day.
What It Means: Last week, another barrier was cleared that helps towards him being ready on opening day. The good news is that he has been cleared to play in Spring Training games. This is definitely good news for those of you who are looking to draft Lucroy at the Catcher position.
NICK MARKAKIS, OF, ATLANTA BRAVES
The Injury: Markakis is currently recovering from neck surgery that he had in December. There is still the possibility that he will be ready to go by opening day.
What It Means: While Markakis is not on track to miss any time, this doesn’t exactly help is already modest value (his ADP is at 284.0). With that being said, it appears that he has made progress over the last week. A recent report indicates that he has been swinging and throwing as he continues to recovery from this injury.
VICTOR MARTINEZ, 1B, DETROIT TIGERS
The Injury: Martinez is currently recovering from left knee surgery and is likely to be ready by Opening Day.
What It Means: Martinez continues to make progress in his recovery as he’s been taking live batting practice over the last week.
Drafting Martinez was already somewhat of a risky proposition due to his age and it being unlikely that his power outburst from last year was repeatable. Being injured this close to the start of the season merely adds to the risk, especially since he will be spending less time at Spring Training.
DEVIN MESORACO, C, CINCINNATI REDS
The Injury: Mesoraco has a mild concussion and will possibly be ready for Opening Day.
What It Means: While his concussion has been classified as mild, this injury is not to be taken lightly especially since this is the third concussion he’s had since 2010. This has limited his ability to prepare for the upcoming season as he has been stuck to riding a stationary bike & walking on a treadmill.
MIKE MINOR, SP, ATLANTA BRAVES
The Injury: Minor currently has left shoulder tightness after feeling discomfort while throwing on March 3. He could be back by the end of April.
What It Means: While this isn’t the greatest news, things could have been a lot worse. His visit to Dr. James Andrews indicated that there was no structural damage to his shoulder. With that being said,
JAKE MCGEE, RP, TAMPA BAY RAYS
The Injury: McGee is currently recovering from left elbow surgery and could possibly be back by May. The good news is that his recovery is making progress as he is expected to throw off the mound on March 17.
What It Means: McGee excelled in the closer role last year saving 19 games. He also had a 1.89 ERA & 11.13 K/9. With McGee expected to miss time, the competition for the Rays closer job in Spring Training is something that needs to be watched closely. The main candidates to get save opportunities at least for the first month of the season are Grant Balfour, Brad Boxberger and Ernesto Frieri.
ANGEL PAGAN, OF, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Injury: Recovering from back surgery he received in September of 2014. He is a possible for Opening Day.
What It Means: Pagan adds value in average and SB but with 129 games missed the last 2 seasons due to injuries, he has been pushed to later round picks status (Fantasy Pros ADP 348). The OF depth of players is pretty deep as well making Pagan a deep league or NL only option.
BOBBY PARNELL, P, NEW YORK METS
The Injury: Recovering from Tommy John Surgery he received in April of 2014. A CBS sports report states he will more than likely miss the first 2-3 weeks of the season.
What It Means: Parnell may miss the first few weeks of the season but he is eyeing the closer role upon his return. He did have 22 saves in 50 IP in 2013. If he is not drafted in your league (Fantasy Pros ADP is 385 so it’s highly likely) he could be an excellent waiver wire addition if he does regain his former position.
HUNTER PENCE, OF, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Injury: Pence suffered a broken left forearm from a HBP during a spring training game. He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.
What It Means: A threat for 20+ HR and 10+ SB with a solid AVG, Pence has certainly been a hot commodity in drafts so far (Fantasy Pros ADP 56.7). The good news is that this happened early in Spring Training so he should, barring any setbacks, only miss about 2-3 weeks of the regular season. Hold tight if you’ve already drafted him, as the injury is not season threatening. I see no problem in drafting Pence, as long as you have a backup to fill in until he returns.
GARRETT RICHARDS, P, LOS ANGELES ANGELS
The Injury: Recovering from knee surgery he received in August of 2014.He is expected to miss the first 2-3 weeks of the season.
What It Means: Alden Gonzalez from MLB.com tweets out that Richards is on track to be ready for his first Cactus League start soon. After a breakout year in 2014 (13-4 with a 2.61 ERA and a 164:51 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 IP) he should be a solid pick for 2015. Fantasy owners have had no problem drafting Richards (Fantasy Pros ADP 133.7), and you shouldn’t either.
CHRIS SALE, P, CHICAGO WHITE SOX
The Injury: Sale suffered an avulsion fracture on the lateral side of his left foot. He is expected to miss Opening Day.
What It Means: Apparently, there was an accident at his home and Sale came into camp with the injured foot. A Chicago Tribune article states that Sale is progressing nicely, throwing long toss and from the mound. The White Sox haven’t given a complete timetable, but they said he is going to definitely miss Opening Day. Since his introduction as a starter in 2012, Sale has been a dominant force on the hill. His 626 strikeouts rank 7th among qualified starting pitchers and his 2.79 ERA ranks 5th. We will continue to keep a close eye on this injury, as Sale is a highly coveted fantasy asset (Fantasy Pros ADP 17).
MICHAEL SAUNDERS, OF, TORONTO BLUE JAYS
The Injury: Saunders has a torn meniscus in his left knee that he suffered in Spring Training. He is expected to miss the first half of the season.
What It Means: This is a big blow for Saunders and the Blue Jays as he is the type of player who, when healthy, has the ability to put up a 20/20 season at a cheap price (Fantasy Pros ADP 338). It is not his first time dealing with an injury either, missing 68 games in 2014 and 39 games between 2012-2013. This was considered a freak accident but Saunders can definitely be categorized as injury prone. Look for him on the waiver wire (if he is available) after the All-Star break.
DREW SMYLY, P, TAMPA BAY RAYS
The Injury: Dealing with shoulder tendinitis, there is no timetable for his return at this time.
What It Means: Smyly injured his left middle finger in December while participating in his own throwing program. He shut it down for a month, but when he came back he felt some discomfort in a bullpen session, probably from trying to rush back to quickly.
It’s a shame too, because Smyly was poised to have a great season. After his trade to the Tampa Bay Rays, Smyly posted a dazzling 1.70 ERA with a 44:11 K/BB ratio in 47 1/3 IP. The fact that there is no timetable is very discouraging and hints of a possible surgery in the future. The Rays are being cautious with Smyly and we suggest you do the same in your draft. If you’ve already drafted Smyly (Fantasy ADP 187.7), hold your breath and hope it’s nothing serious. Alex Colome and Nate Kerns would look to benefit from Smyly’s absence
DENARD SPAN, OF, WASHINGTON NATIONALS
The Injury: Received surgery for a torn rectus abdominis muscle on March 9th. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks before resuming baseball activities.
What It Means: Skipper Matt Williams doesn’t want to put a timetable on his return but my best guess would be late April-early May if everything goes well. In the mean time, Michael Taylor will look to get the majority of reps at CF. More known for his glove than his bat, you will want to take a wait and see approach if you are thinking of placing him on your roster. Span was getting a good look by fantasy owners (Fantasy Pros ADP 180.2), so if you already drafted him than sit tight; there is no need to panic and drop him.
MARCUS STROMAN, P, TORONTO BLUE JAYS
The Injury: Suffered a torn left ACL while running to cover 3B during a Spring Training game. He will miss the entire 2015 season.
What It Means: This is awful news for Stroman, as he was looking to play a big part in the Jays quest for their first playoff berth since 1993. After a solid campaign in 2014 (11-6, 3.65 ERA, 111 K), fantasy owners deemed Stroman good enough to be a mid-round draft pick this year (Fantasy Pros ADP 152.8). The good news is that this is not an arm injury so he should pick up right where he left off next spring. This injury opens the door even more for Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, Daniel Norris and Johan Santana, as now there are two open spots in the rotation as opposed to just one. Spring Training will sort it all out but it will probably be Estrada and Norris with Sanchez in the bullpen.
NICK SWISHER, 1B, CLEVELAND INDIANS
The Injury: Recovering from left and right knee surgery he received in August of 2015. He is possible for Opening Day
What It Means: Swisher has not been the same since his departure from New York. His power (.380 SLG with Cleveland compared to a career .453 SLG) and average (.230 AVG with Cleveland compared to a career .251 AVG) have been on the decline since 2012. Some of that may have been due to injury and park factors but, with knee surgeries under Swisher’s belt, fantasy owners are a lot more cautious in selecting him (Fantasy Pro ADP 445) and we suggest you to do the same.
MELVIN (B.J.) UPTON JR., OF, ATLANTA BRAVES
The Injury: A MRI showed inflammation in his left foot. He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.
What It Means: Upton was looking to bounce back this year as his time in Atlanta has not been pretty (.198/.279/.314 with only 15 HR in 267 games). Fantasy owners have been disappointed when drafting Upton and it is definitely showing this year (Fantasy Pros ADP 368). At this point, Upton is strictly deep NL only league material until proven otherwise.
ADAM WAINWRIGHT, P, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
The Injury: Wainwright left Spring Training dealing with abdominal pain. He is possible for Opening Day.
What It Means: Wainwright was diagnosed with an abdominal strain but he threw around 35 pitches to live hitters on Thursday. To summarize, his fastball command was lacking but his change and curve looked good. Wainwright stated the he will be good to go for Opening Day but nothing is definite at this point. He should be safe to draft (Fantasy Pros ADP 38, career 3.01 ERA, at least 198 IP in the last 5 seasons). However, he is going on 34 and one wonders how long Wainwright can keep up his dominance.
JAYSON WERTH, OF, WASHINGTON NATIONALS
The Injury: Recovering from shoulder surgery he received in January of 2015. He is possible for Opening Day
What It Means: Jayson Werth is hoping to make Opening Day, as his surgery was considered minimally invasive. He took light swings with a bat for the first time since his surgery in January on March 3rd. His progress is actually ahead of schedule, as he wasn’t expected to take any swings until Friday March 6th. He threw a baseball for the first time as well this past Wednesday, March 11th. He should be a solid mid round pick (Fantasy Pros ADP 125) that contributes in multiple categories. However you will want a backup to fill in for him if he does miss the first week or so of the season.
MATT WIETERS, C, BALTIMORE ORIOLES
The Injury: Recovering from Tommy John Surgery he received in June of 2014. He is possible for Opening Day
What It Means: Roch Kubatko at masnsports.com has an update from Skipper Buck Showalter. He states that Wieters is progressing nicely but Showalter still won’t give a definite answer on if Wieters makes Opening Day. As long as there are no complications or discomfort, I believe Wieters will be penciled in come April 6th. He should also be a solid mid round pick (Fantasy Pros ADP 161; averaged over 20 HR and 68 RBI from 2011-2013) if you miss out on the early round catchers.