RotoBaller.com is bringing you the latest analysis you need to crush your league in April. In this Injury Update series we'll profile five players at a time who've been bit by the injury bug. We'll provide some analysis of each situation and make recommendations for you in light of these injuries.
Adam Eaton – One of the more popular sleepers in fantasy baseball circles, Eaton was bothered by a sore elbow during spring training that an MRI later revealed was a UCL strain. This development qualified Eaton for inclusion in 3 Down section of the RotoBaller Spring Training Movers piece. Diamonbacks GM Kevin Towers said on Friday (3/22) that the outfielder will be shut down for four weeks with a best-case scenario being a return in six weeks, but it’s also possible he could be out two months. Eaton says he plans on beating that timetable but as of now you should expect him to return mid-to-late May at the absolute earliest. With Cody Ross also questionable for the start of the season, A.J. Pollock and Gerardo Parra will pick up the slack; Pollock isn’t worth rostering but Parra has value in deeper mixed leagues, where he can nmake a contribution with his speed. Eaton will still be a valuable fantasy asset upon his return; just recalibrate your projections of his counting stats to account for the missed time.
Phil Hughes – Suffering from a bulging disc in his back since the second week of camp, the Yankees are playing things safe with Hughes in the wake of similar back issues last postseason. New York is holding the RHP out of Grapefruit League action so that they can backdate a DL move, but Hughes could be ready as early as April 7, when it happens that the Yankees first need a fifth starter. Right-hander David Phelps would fill in should Hughes miss any starts, and he's definitely worth adding in AL-only leagues due to his 3.34 ERA and 8.7 K/9 in 99.2 IP last season. Mixed-leaguers with shallower waiver pools might take a look at Phelps, too. Hughes has reportedly progressed well in his rehab so he should continue to be viewed as a viable back-of-the-rotation or depth arm in all formats once he returns.
Casey Janssen – Following surgery to relieve discomfort in the AC joint of his pitching shoulder in November, the Jays originally expected that Janssen would miss the start of the season, and that Sergio Santos would close in his absence. Janssen, however, has come along nicely in spring training and is now expected to open the season as closer, barring any setbacks. There’s a possibility he won’t be used on back-to-back days in the early going, but Janssen should still be viewed as a solid closing option with a chance to rack up the saves on an improved Toronto ballclub.
Ryan Madson – A torn ligament in his pitching elbow cost Madson all of the 2012 season, and setbacks during his recovery have now officially put him out for the start of the season. The right-hander was shut down for six weeks early in camp after an elbow issue cropped up, and he was shut down again a week ago following more discomfort. Madson threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Monday at “70-80 percent intensity” but will need several more before becoming game-ready. Madson is thus now likely out for all of April; Ernesto Frieri will close in his absence and he could easily end up keeping the job, so at this point it’s probably worth viewing Madson as a handcuff for Frieri rather than vice versa.
David Ortiz – Limited and ultimately shut down with an Achilles injury last season, Ortiz continues to be bothered by inflammation in his heels. The 37-year-old DH won’t appear in any spring training action and is now ticketed for a DL stint to start the year, but the Red Sox maintain hope that Ortiz can return by mid-April, though reports have surfaced that the start of May is perhaps more realistic. Boston has a variety of DH-types at their disposal, so it’s possible that Mike Napoli, Mauro Gomez, or even a combination of Ryan Lavarnway and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will fill in for the Dominican slugger. Due to his age, body-type, and the nature of this injury, Ortiz is an exceptionally high-risk/high-reward player in fantasy this season.