Opening Day is right around the corner as teams start paring down their rosters, and players with numbers resembling wide receivers are getting fewer and far between. As always, injuries play a big factor in determining a player’s status in both real and fantasy baseball. This spring has had its fair share of injuries to significant players, so pay close attention because this could affect your upcoming fantasy baseball drafts. So without further adieu, here is this week’s edition of the walking wounded.
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1. Miguel Cabrera (3B-DET). Perennial MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera sustained a fracture under his right eye after a ground ball hit him in the face on Monday. He will be out for a couple weeks which could potentially jeopardize his status for Opening Day. Cabrera indicated he would be ready to start the season, but that is up in the air right now. When healthy, he is a viable option for the first overall pick in a fantasy draft. Even if he misses a couple games to start the season, his value doesn’t change. He reported no issues with his vision, so continue to view him as an elite fantasy option worthy of the first pick.
2. Joakim Soria (RP-KC). The news isn’t good for Royals closer Joakim Soria who is likely heading towards his second Tommy John surgery. It was revealed that he has ligament damage in his elbow, so he will now take some time before deciding how to proceed. Whether he chooses to have surgery or not, Soria is no longer an elite closer option. He will certainly miss time at the least, and will be out for the season if he has the surgery. Look for Jonathan Broxton, Greg Holland, and Aaron Crow to be candidates to take over Kansas City’s closing duties.
3. Chris Carpenter (SP-STL). The news out of Cardinals camp was not good on Wednesday as Chris Carpenter was sent back to St. Louis to get his bulging disk checked out. He was unable to throw batting practice this week due to continued discomfort in his neck and arm, so he was shut down and will be further examined. It was questionable whether he would be ready by Opening Day before, but this all but assures that he will not be. His value has been in relative decline over the past few years anyway, so he is nothing more than a mid-round pick in fantasy drafts but only if completely healthy.
4. David Wright (3B-NYM). The remaining face of the franchise, Mets third baseman David Wright has yet to play in a spring training game due to a muscle tear. However he is expected to return to action some time over the weekend and he has indicated he will be ready by Opening Day. Third base is not an overly deep fantasy position this year, but he still remains one of the top options. His injury slightly diminishes his overall value, but with better hitting conditions at Citi Field he should still be in line for 25 homeruns and close to 100 RBI.
5. Giancarlo Stanton (OF-MIA). There was growing concern over the former Mike Stanton because of wrist and knee injuries. However, he has been given the ok to start running which is a good sign. He will need some extra time to get in shape for the season, so there is a chance he could be impacted during the very beginning of the season. Otherwise, there is no reason to think he will not hit 35 homeruns and drive in over 100 runs. He is a legitimate top ten outfield option in fantasy drafts of any format.
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6. Derek Jeter (SS-NYY). Yankees’ captain Derek Jeter has been sidelined with a calf injury. This is not considered serious and Jeter should be back in action within a few days. Remember he missed time last year with a calf injury, so at his age injuries are likely going to affect him more adversely than they would have years ago. He is still a decent option at shortstop and is a fine consolation prize if you miss out on guys like Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez. Just don’t expect .330 and 30 stolen bases anymore.
7. Chase Utley (2B-PHI). He was going to be a sleeper candidate coming into the season, but that goes out the window now that Chase Utley has gone to see a specialist on his knee. His status for Opening Day is next to nil as he hasn’t even appeared in a spring training game yet. After suffering from a knee injury last year, this is the other knee that is causing him trouble. His status going forward is unknown, but he shouldn’t be counted on for much at this point. He may be worth a gamble in the later rounds, but you should plan on getting another second baseman you can rely on.
8. Nick Swisher (OF-NYY). Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher has been sidelined with two groin injuries that has kept him out of the lineup for several days. He is expected to return in time for Opening Day and should be considered a solid OF3 option. However, groin injuries are not the easiest ailments to return from and require sufficient rest. Watch his progress because his value could diminish if he is not ready to start the season.
9. Neftali Feliz (SP-TEX). After being in the bullpen his first few years in the big leagues, the Rangers have moved Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation. He was going to need time to build up his endurance during the spring, so his value was slightly diminished heading into drafts because of the unknowns surrounding the switch. He left Tuesday’s spring training game with stiffness in his right shoulder and will be further evaluated by team doctors. The Rangers will likely be very cautious with Feliz, so closely monitor his progress and whether he will be available for the start of the season.
10. Carlos Quentin (OF-SD). Fantasy owners cringed when Carlos Quentin was traded to San Diego because that is where hitters go to die. While he hasn’t quite come close to matching his breakout season a few years ago, Quentin is still a solid fantasy outfield option. However, he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and will be out for a month to a month and a half. His value diminished anyway with the trade to the Padres, but now he has fallen further down because of the injury. He is a good option for a late round sleeper or cheap auction value as he should be back some time in May.
Check out the rest of our 2012 Fantasy Baseball Rankings.
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