Latest Updates on Every Vital MLB Injury Heading into the Second Half

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IJuly 11, 2012

Latest Updates on Every Vital MLB Injury Heading into the Second Half

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    Now that the second half of the MLB season is upon us, teams will be looking to bolster their rosters for the postseason push. Many teams will be proactive in calling teams about players that might become available over the next few weeks.

    However, some teams may not need to make calls at all. For them, the return to good health of players on the disabled list will give their teams a natural boost heading into the final two months of the season.

    We're not talking about marginal guys, either—impact players who have shown through their performance that their presence on the team can make a huge difference.

    Here are health updates on 10 players who could possibly make it up to help out their teams at some point in the second half.

Roy Halladay: Philadelphia Phillies

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    On May 27, the Philadelphia Phillies were already struggling. Going into their game that Sunday, the Phillies were 25-23 and five games out of first place in the NL East—an unfamiliar position for the five-time defending division title holders.

    Things were about to get a whole lot worse.

    Roy Halladay, their ace and the 2010 NL Cy Young Award winner, went down with a right lat strain. Since then, the Phillies have swooned, heading into the All-Star break with a 37-50 record and in last place.

    The Phillies have gotten back the right side of the infield with the returns of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and now, Halladay's return may not be far off, either.

    Halladay will make a rehab start on Thursday for Single-A Clearwater at Brighthouse Field. If Halladay clears all hurdles with his start, he will take the mound for the Phillies next Tuesday to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    Halladay's return will certainly be welcomed with open arms, but is it too little too late?

Mariano Rivera: New York Yankees

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    On a Thursday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium in early May, a legend was laying on the ground in the warning track writhing in pain.

    New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, the all-time leader in saves, crumbled to the ground after landing awkwardly while chasing down a fly ball in batting practice.

    The diagnosis was grim—a torn anterior cruciate ligament, likely ending Rivera's season. The injury was compounded by the fact that surgery could not be performed until June 12 because of a blood clot that had formed.

    Now, it appears that Rivera's legendary powers of fast healing really are true.

    According to several published reports, Rivera could actually be on the mound later this season.

    The New York Post reported on Tuesday that Rivera's rehab doctor, Dr. Keith Pyne, would not rule out a return this season.

    According to the Post:

    Pyne also said Rivera is “working his butt off,” is well ahead of schedule in rehab and “is itching to get back.”

    He added, that Rivera “will be in the best position to accomplish that goal [pitching this year]. He’s got everything it takes to accomplish that. ... If I was putting money on it, I would put my money on Mo.”

    The Yankees, meanwhile, are still saying that Mo will not be back.

    GM Brian Cashman said, “in terms of 2012, he’s out.”

    I guess someone had better tell Mo that, then.

Victor Martinez: Detroit Tigers

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    Back in mid-January, Detroit Tigers catcher/designated hitter Victor Martinez was literally counting down the days until spring training, working hard to get in shape to help deliver his Tigers back to the postseason.

    And then, the unthinkable happened.

    Martinez tore his ACL during workouts, and his season was deemed all but over.

    It was a crushing blow for the Tigers, and one that led owner Mike Ilitch to spend $214 million to replace Martinez' offense in the form of free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder.

    Now, there's at least a glimmer of hope that Martinez could possibly make his return by mid-September.

    Martinez underwent an MRI in late June, and while doctors wouldn't allow V-Mart to start a running program, they at least gave Tigers fans hope that Martinez could be seen in the lineup at some point in 2012.

    “The best-case scenario is (middle) to late September,” Tigers head trainer Kevin Rand said. “He’s got to get the leg strength back.”

    Everything will have to align perfectly for Martinez to make that return, however. Any setbacks at all and the Tigers will simply shut him down with the thought of having him 100 percent healthy for the 2013 season.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Boston Red Sox

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    Last year, Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury came of age.

    A .321 batting average, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 46 doubles, 39 stolen bases and a league-leading 364 total bases put Ellsbury among the elite outfielders in the league and earned him a runner-up finish in the American League MVP Award balloting.

    In 2012, new manager Bobby Valentine was clearly leaning on Ellsbury to once again be a key force in the Red Sox offense.

    However, on April 13, Ellsbury slid into second base in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays and tore up his right shoulder, suffering a subluxation in the process.

    Now, some three months later, it appears that Ellsbury is ready to return.

    Ellsbury is tentatively scheduled to be activated from the disabled list on Friday when the Red Sox resume play in 2012 against the Rays.

    Ellsbury has participated in eight rehab games over the past two weeks with three different teams, and reports about his shoulder have been positive.

    Since his injury, the Red Sox have employed eight different players in center, combining for a total of four homers and 27 RBI.

Troy Tulowitzki: Colorado Rockies

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    The Colorado Rockies have been reeling all season long, sputtering along with a record of 33-52 and tied with the San Diego Padres for last place in the NL West. In addition, star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was bothered by pain in his groin that just wouldn't go away.

    That pain turned out to be scar tissue that was sitting on a nerve in his left groin, and Tulo underwent surgery on June 21 to successfully remove that scar tissue.

    The timetable for Tulowitzki's return at the time was 6-8 weeks, and that hasn't wavered. The Rockies are thinking more conservatively, looking for Tulo to make his return in late August.

    Considering how the season has gone thus far, there's no point in rushing Tulowitzki back at all.

Andy Pettitte: New York Yankees

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    When New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte decided that retirement just wasn't for him, he made his return to the mound after 18 months.

    Pettitte looked like he hadn't missed any time at all, posting a 3.22 ERA in nine starts with 59 strikeouts in 58.2 innings. The 40-year-old was looking sharp.

    Unfortunately for Pettitte and the Yankees, a line drive off the bat of Cleveland Indians first baseman Casey Kotchman found Pettitte's lower leg, fracturing his left fibula.

    Best-case scenario for Pettitte's return has been six weeks, but the Yankees are thinking more on the lines of two months. Pettitte likely won't be back on the mound until early September. Pettitte was moved to the 60-day DL in late June, so his earliest return date would be late August anyway.

Carl Crawford: Boston Red Sox

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    The 2012 season thus far for the Boston Red Sox is one that could almost be described as lost. The same could certainly be said for the season of left fielder Carl Crawford as well.

    Crawford, who suffered through a miserable first season for the Red Sox in 2011 after signing a seven-year, $142 million contract, underwent surgery on his left wrist in mid-January, but was expected to be back in mid-April.

    Then, while rehabbing the left wrist in extended spring training in early April, Crawford began feeling soreness in his left elbow. After several consultations, including a visit with famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews, it was determined that Crawford had suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, and would be shut down from baseball activities for up to three months.

    Last week, while rehabbing with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, Crawford suffered a mild groin strain while legging out a triple, setting him back another few days.

    Now, the plan is for Crawford to resume rehab with Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday, with an eye toward his return to the Red Sox when they begin a homestand on July 16.

    In addition, Crawford admits that his elbow is not 100 percent, and that surgery during the offseason is likely.

    Sox manager Bobby Valentine said the team will closely monitor Crawford upon his return.

    “I think we have to manage that situation as he plays,” Valentine said.

    Whether or not Crawford can actually help while he plays through his issues is another story entirely.

Joba Chamberlain: New York Yankees

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    No one can fault New York Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain for trying to be a good father.

    Playing with his five-year-old son on a trampoline in March, Chamberlain suffered a severe ankle injury, putting him on the shelf for what many feared would be the entire season.

    Apparently, Chamberlain has the same type of healing powers as his fellow rehabbing teammate Mariano Rivera.

    Chamberlain threw an inning of relief for the Gulf Coast Yankees on Tuesday. Facing a Pittsburgh Pirates rookie team, Chamberlain came out firing, hitting 97 MPH on the radar gun.

    Count Yankees GM Brian Cashman as one who was impressed.

    “It’s the start of the rehab process, so hopefully we get him back no later than the first week of August,” Cashman said.

    Chamberlain was already on the shelf at the time of his ankle injury, recovering from Tommy John surgery performed last year.

Matt Kemp: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    During Monday night's State Farm Home Run Derby, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp struggled to hit long balls, registering just one homer in Round 1 to eliminate him from the competition.

    However, just the fact that he was back on the field was a good sign for the offensively-challenged Dodgers.

    Kemp will likely be activated from the disabled list on Friday when the Dodgers resume play. Kemp has not played since May 30 when he re-aggravated a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two weeks earlier in the season.

    Kemp hasn't hit a home run since April 30, yet his 12 home runs this season still lead the Dodgers, who are 5-15 in their last 20 games, scoring only 43 runs during that span.

Drew Storen: Washington Nationals

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    Last season for the Washington Nationals, Drew Storen thrived in his role as closer, posting 43 saves and a 2.75 ERA. Together with Tyler Clippard the two were one of the more formidable back-end bullpen tandems in all of baseball.

    In 2012, Storen is just looking to get back on the mound.

    Storen was feeling pain both in his biceps and triceps during spring training, starting the season on the disabled list. He was eventually diagnosed with a bone fragment floating in his elbow joint, and underwent surgery to remove bone chips on April 11.

    Now, some three months later, Storen is working through his rehab process, currently in the middle of a four-outing stint with Single-A Potomac.

    Storen could be activated as early as Friday when the Nats resume play after the All-Star break.


    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.