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June 8, 2011

Collateral Damage

Another Aching Athletic

by Corey Dawkins and Ben Lindbergh

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Brett Anderson, OAK (Left elbow soreness)
Oakland's pitching staff took another hit when Anderson went on the 15-day disabled list for soreness in his left elbow. His velocity and the bite on his breaking pitches have decreased bit in the last few weeks, causing the southpaw to fear that he might need Tommy John surgery. It's common to see a loss of velocity with ulnar collateral ligament injuries in pitchers, but usually that loss occurs over a longer period of time than just a few weeks. Anderson hasn't necessarily lost a lot of velocity since the beginning of the year, but he has lost a few miles per hour since 2009.

Anderson made multiple visits to the disabled list with elbow and forearm injuries in 2010. The first stint, for a strain of the flexor tendon, lasted a little over a month. This tendon lies directly over the ulnar collateral ligament of Tommy John fame and helps to absorb some of the forces placed upon the ligament. Anderson made two appearances after returning from that scare before heading back to the disabled list with general elbow inflammation. This time it took him almost two months to come back, but by the time he did, something had changed. His velocity was reduced from what it had been in the second half of 2009, even if his results were still good.

Results of all of the tests performed on Anderson had not been released as of last night, but the lefty is on his way to see Dr. Andrews for a second opinion. If Anderson's concern is indicative of a more serious problem than those he’s faced in the past, Oakland should expect him to be on the shelf for a while.

Tony Campana, CHN (Left ankle sprain)
When Campana initially rolled his ankle, it looked like it was going to be pretty bad, something akin to the fractured and dislocated ankle Jason Kendall suffered when he landed on first base awkwardly in 1999. Video replay of Campana's injury yesterday shows just how far his foot and ankle twisted in before he catapulted through the air and landed in pain. Once Campana was sitting up—and eventually walking off the field—it was clear that it wasn't as gruesome an injury as Kendall's, but it could keep him out for several days.

Jimmy Rollins, PHI (Right knee contusion)
Mark Teixeira, NYA (Right knee contusion)

Getting hit by a pitch or fouling a ball off any body part without padding is clearly going to hurt. The inside of the knee—and in particular, the inside part of the kneecap—can be excruciating when bruised,  and can even shut down the quad muscle for an instant or two. When Rollins fouled the ball off his knee on Saturday, it was clear that the ball had struck him fairly flush in an area without any protection.

The resulting bone bruise may take a while to resolve—especially if he continues to play on it—but in most cases, pain is the only factor preventing a return to the lineup. Rollins was able to pinch-hit in last night's game, and he should be back in the starting lineup shortly.

Teixeira got drilled on the inside part of his right knee, right on the edge of the kneecap, by a Jon Lester cutter. Teixeira immediately went down and was taken out of the game. Girardi expects Teixeira to miss only a few days, which seems appropriate given where the ball struck him.

Brian Roberts, BAL (Concussion)
Denard Span, MIN (Concussion-like symptoms)

As more and more research comes out regarding concussions, it's becoming better understood that each recovery really is individualized. Roberts suffered his concussion on a slide at first base back on May 16, but he’s still at least several weeks away from being activated. After meeting with concussion specialist Dr. Michael Collins as part of the new protocol, Roberts was advised to avoid baseball activities for at least two more weeks, which puts him in danger of missing all of June.

Denard Span is suffering from the ambiguous “concussion-like” symptoms of headaches and dizziness following his collision at home plate on Friday. Even though Span has a history of vertigo, it's pretty clear that his symptoms are related to a concussion, even if he hasn’t been officially diagnosed with one. Given that his symptoms were severe enough to force him back to Minnesota, there is a good chance that he’ll end up on the disabled list.

Hanley Ramirez, FLA (Back strain and sciatica)
Hanley was predictably placed on the disabled list on Monday with a back strain. Without knowing the exact muscle injured, there's no way of knowing if the sciatica stemmed completely from the back strain. If it did, the sciatica should improve as the muscle inflammation and spasms decrease. All the news coming out of Miami points to a speedy recovery for Hanley, and he may very well be activated in the minimum. We're a little more guarded about his long-term health, considering his back was giving him trouble for roughly a month prior to his being removed from a game on May 29.

John Lackey, BOS (Right elbow soreness)
Lackey recently admitted that his elbow will be sore for a while and that the cortisone injection was only a temporary measure. There is a chance that the pain will resurface to the point of requiring another disabled list move this season, and it could lead to surgery in the offseason. Lackey is going to be doing a balancing act for the rest of the year as he tries to push himself while attempting to keep the inflammation to a minimum. An MRI did reveal some structural changes that took place since he signed his contract with Boston, which makes management look very astute for inserting a clause into his contract regarding an elbow injury.

Flesh Wounds: Rafael Furcal had a PRP injection into his injured oblique in hopes of jump-starting the healing process... Jed Lowrie will have an MRI on his painful left shoulder following his collision with Carl Crawford about 10 days ago... Dexter Fowler did end up on the disabled list with a left abdominal strain... Mark Ellis suffered a right hamstring strain and was placed on the disabled list. He's had multiple issues with the left hamstring in the past... Bobby Jenks will likely have an MRI for his back after being removed from the game last night for back spasms... Justin Duchscherer left his extended spring training start with hip soreness, further decreasing his chances of returning this year... Allen Craig left last night's game with a bruised right knee after running into the wall.

Corey Dawkins is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Corey's other articles. You can contact Corey by clicking here
Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

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