For the last couple of weeks, Alex Rodriguez has been talking about his knee feeling sore. He was hoping to play through the injury, but when the Yankees saw him wincing as he trotted off the field before the All-Star break, they realised that something needed to be checked. The Yankees doctors found that A-Rod had a torn meniscus in his knee and they recommended him for surgery. A-Rod elected to have the surgery and is expected to be out four-to-six weeks while he recovers.
NL All-Star Third Baseman, Chipper Jones, was also told by doctors right before the break that he had a partial tear in his meniscus and recommended he have surgery. Jones agreed and was given a two-to three week recovery time.
The Operating Table takes a closer look at the meniscus injury itself, as well as the people that will be filling in for these two All-Star players for the next couple of weeks.
A meniscus injury is considered one of the more common knee injuries. Each knee has two menisci (the plural of meniscus) which keep the knee steady by helping balance the weight distribution across the knee itself. A tear occurs in the meniscus when the knee twists or turns quickly once the foot is planted. We see that often in the NFL where players play on artificial turf surfaces. What is interesting to note is that the meniscus wears away over time. Thus, older players such as Chipper and A-Rod are more susceptible to meniscus tears than younger players.
There are three types of meniscus tears:
1) A minor tear: usually occurs with some slight pain and swelling. Surgery is not usually required and recovery time is in the two-to-three week range.
2) A moderate tear: causes much more pain and swelling. The knee often feels stiff and it becomes increasingly more difficult to walk. The pain may subside for a bit, but never fully goes away unless the person rests it. Surgery is more of an option here.
3) A severe tear: pieces of the torn meniscus move into the space in the joint area. The knee is hard to straighten and the person feels that the knee can go out on them at any time. Surgery is highly recommended for this type of tear.
The first option with treating the meniscus (which happened with Chipper and A-Rod) is the RICE philosophy (rest, ice, compression, elevation). If that does not work, surgery occurs to either repair the meniscus or take out parts of the meniscus.
All in all this is a very common surgery and one of the most easily recoverable for athletes. Expect players who return from this type of injury to be sore and lose some speed in the short term, but their power should not be affected.
In Fantasy terms, look for Eduardo Nunez (Yankees) to be the biggest beneficiary of playing time. Nunez, in particular, looked terrific in Derek Jeter‘s absence, surprising the Yankees with his offence (especially his speed) and his batting average. Nunez was a bit of a butcher in the field, but unless your league subtracts points for errors, you should be fine going with him. Other under the radar options in the AL are Danny Valencia and Scott Sizemore. Valencia, the former University of Miami star, has gotten off to a rough start in Minnesota (only a .236 BA), but his minor league history tells you that he has always hit for a high average. Even batting .236 he still has 46 RBIs, so that should tell you he is getting the opportunity. Since coming over in a deal with the Tigers, Sizemore has been quite the find for the A’s. He should be a good bet to hit around 10 home runs the rest of the way, and has decent speed to boot.
Brooks Conrad looks to see most of the playing time in Atlanta. Conrad is not a player that will really help Fantasy owners, but he won’t hurt you much either. He has a little power and can hit for a decent average. His knack seems to be in pinch-hitting, which is where the Braves would prefer him long-term. Another option in NL leagues is David Freese. I am not sure Freese will be available in all leagues, but if he is still on the waiver wire after his injury, now is the time to go get him. He is more than capable of hitting over.300 in the second half with a dozen or so home runs.
Dr. Roto’s Mailbag:
Each week, Dr. Roto will also answer a couple of questions from his readers. If you have a question that you would like Dr. Roto to answer, please email him directly at [email protected]
Question #1: Are you worried about Clay Buchholz yet? Do you expect the Red Sox to start exploring trade options? –Anthony, Stamford, Ct.
Dr. Roto: Thanks for the great question, Anthony. The Red Sox rotation is really in shambles right now with three out of their top five starters currently injured. While I expect Josh Beckett to return soon, as well as Jon Lester with his lat strain, the big question is the return of Clay Buchholz with his back injury. Buchholz recently went for a third opinion last week and found out that there is no structural damage in his back. He received a cortisone shot and is now undergoing rehab to get ready to return. There really is no timetable on his return, as it will happen as quickly as he feels better. The Red Sox do have some young talent in Kyle Weiland and the much improved Andrew Miller, but another veteran arm (Brett Myers??) might be helpful as well.
Question #2: What were the Rockies thinking with playing Carlos Gonzalez right before the break? Will that affect his DL status if he goes on? –Lenny, Staten Island, NY
Dr. Roto: I am not sure what the Rockies were thinking, Lenny, as that was one of the more disturbing decisions I have seen this season. A player’s date on the DL begins with the last date that they played in a game. So, Gonzalez’s date would have been last Sunday July 9, instead of July 3 when he first left with his injured wrist. Luckily, the most recent MRI on Gonzalez’s wrist showed a deep bone bruise and not a strained ligament or a break. A contusion like that does hurt (and may hurt Gonzalez’s power in the short term), but his long-term prognosis is pretty good.
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