Albert Pujols and Every MLB Team's Injured Player They Need Now More Than Ever
It's one of the unfortunate realities of sports; injuries occur to those who play.
Those injuries can have a major impact on the individual season of the player who gets hurt, not to mention a lasting effect on the season of the team as a whole.
So far this season, we have seen season-ending injuries to key MLB players such as Adam Wainwright, Buster Posey, Jorge De La Rosa and Daisuke Matsuzaka, to name a few.
The argument as to just how much these injuries actually impact their teams will vary based on the player—as well as based on the person making the argument.
If you are not a San Francisco Giants fan, you may not think Posey's injury is as drastic as the team and their front office made it out to be.
If you are a Red Sox fan, you may argue Matsuzaka did the team a favor by missing the rest of the season.
Injuries hurt a team in the box scores without a doubt, but they also can affect a team's chemistry and morale. Often times, this is the more damaging result.
Here's a look at each MLB team's injured player they would like to have back right now...
Arizona Diamondbacks: Sam Demel
Sam Demel has been extremely effective in his appearances so far this season.
He's a valuable and reliable member of the D'Backs' bullpen that will help them in their pursuit of the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
Thankfully for Arizona, Demel was scheduled to make a rehab appearance in Triple-A starting June 23.
Atlanta Braves: Tommy Hanson
Tommy Hanson, out with right shoulder tendinitis, has been one of the better National League starters, as his 2.48 ERA and 89 strikeouts represent.
The Braves could have him back in the rotation possibly as early as next week.
Baltimore Orioles: Brian Roberts
Brian Roberts is out with concussion-like symptoms.
Concussions have been getting a lot more attention and precaution across all the major sports, and rightfully so.
While the Orioles would definitely like to have their second baseman back and producing, there is currently no timetable for his return.
According to the team's injury updates, he will be reevaluated in early July.
Boston Red Sox: Clay Buchholz
The Red Sox will miss Buchholz, who was placed on the disabled list June 19 while he recovers from a strained lower back.
Buchholz joined a growing list of injured Red Sox, including Daisuke Matsuzaka, Bobby Jenks, Jed Lowrie, Franklin Morales, Carl Crawford and Rich Hill.
Boston will need pitching to hold onto their lead in the AL East though, and Buchholz is the most important member of the franchise they need to return quickly and at full-health.
Chicago Cubs: Kerry Wood
Kerry Wood is as reliable a reliever out of the bullpen as there is in Major League Baseball.
Unfortunately, Wood has dealt with more than his fair share of injuries throughout his career.
He was placed on the disabled list June 13 with a blister on his index finger on his throwing hand. He should be okay to return to the Cubs in early July, although a return date has yet to be determined by the team's training staff.
Chicago White Sox: Tony Pena
Tony Pena qualifies as the White Sox' most important player to return from the disabled list because he is the only player currently on the disabled list for Chicago.
Winner—or loser, if you prefer—by default.
Pena hasn't been particularly effective this season according to what his stats tell you, but I'm sure the team would still like to get him back on the field to work on improving his contributions to the team.
Cincinnati Reds: Homer Bailey
The Reds are reportedly in the market for starting pitching.
Getting Homer Bailey back from the disabled list would represent an internal upgrade in their current starting pitching.
Bailey was effective through his first five starts this season, going 3-1 with 3.00 ERA and 22 strikeouts, compared to just five walks.
Bailey made a rehab start June 21 and is expected to return to the Reds in late June.
Cleveland Indians: Matt LaPorta
Matt LaPorta's production through the team's first 59 games has been missed.
He was placed on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle, according to MLB's injury tracker.
LaPorta will have his walking-boot removed between June 24-26, and is not expected to return to the Indians' lineup until sometime in July.
Colorado Rockies: Jorge De La Rosa
Jorge De La Rosa won't be returning to the Rockies at all this season.
The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery June 3.
Given the struggles by Ubaldo Jimenez though, the Rockies could definitely use De La Rosa back in the rotation.
He was 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA before his season ended.
Detroit Tigers: Joel Zumaya
Joel Zumaya is another pitcher who is out for the entire year and won't be making any impact for the Tigers.
The reliever is one of the hardest throwers in the Majors though when healthy.
The Tigers are in the playoff hunt in the AL Central and would definitely benefit from having him in their bullpen to hold leads in the final innings of close games.
Zumaya underwent surgery May 10.
Florida Marlins: Josh Johnson
Josh Johnson looked like an early Cy Young candidate this season.
He was a threat to throw a no-hitter any time he took the mound, but he went on the 60-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation.
Johnson recently threw a 20-pitch bullpen session though, and the Marlins believe he is on track to return to the team sometime in the middle of July.
Houston Astros: Humberto Quintero
With Jason Castro likely out for the season, the Astros would like to see Humberto Quintero return to his catching duties as soon as he is able.
Quintero is currently out with a high ankle sprain. He has begun light throwing again and is expected to return to the team before July.
Meanwhile, another Astros catcher—J.R. Towles—has also missed time with leg soreness.
It seems to be a health hazard to be a catcher for the Astros this season.
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Kansas City Royals: Bruce Chen
Of all the Royals pitchers on the DL, Bruce Chen has been the most effective and is the most missed.
Chen was placed on the disabled list with a left lat strain, but threw five innings in a rehab start June 18.
He is expected to return to the Royals' rotation before the beginning of July.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Kendrys Morales
Kendrys Morales has not played this season and will be out remainder of the year.
His replacement, Mark Trumbo, has filled in adequately, but still the Angels would benefit from having Morales in their lineup.
The team needs offense to support their pitching staff, and when healthy, Morales is arguably one of the top-10 hitters in the American League West.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jonathan Broxton
Jonathan Broxton wasn't having the best 2011 season before his injury, but the Dodgers would still love to have him back on the hill in the ninth inning closing out games.
Broxton went on the disabled list with a bone spur in his right elbow.
He reached the mid-90's with his fastball in a rehab assignment June 21 and is set to return to the team in early July as long as there are no setbacks.
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Milwaukee Brewers: Brandon Kintzler
Brandon Kintzler should return to the Brewers' bullpen sometime within the next week or two.
The righty was placed on the disabled list with right triceps tendinitis. He underwent an MRI that revealed no structural damage though.
Kintzler was 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in nine appearances for the Brewers before the injury.
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Minnesota Twins: Jason Kubel
Jason Kubel had been one of the bright spots for a Twins team that was struggling before their recent surge.
Kubel was a consistent contributor with his .310 batting average and 30 RBI in 52 games before hitting the disabled list.
As of June 23, he is still not able to run the bases though as he recovers from a left foot sprain.
Minnesota hopes to have him back before the beginning of July.
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New York Mets: David Wright
David Wright was recently cleared to increase his exercises as he rehabs from a stress fracture in his lower back.
The Mets would definitely like to get him back on the field. At this point it remains unclear if they want his production on the field to help with a postseason push or if they want to showcase his health in hopes they can trade him before the July 31 deadline.
Wright is the face of the franchise for the Mets though, and obviously the entire franchise and their fans want their All-Star third baseman back on the field as soon as possible.
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New York Yankees: Phil Hughes
Based on last year's performance, the New York Yankees would love to see Phil Hughes make a return from the disabled list and step into their rotation.
Hughes struggled in his three appearances this season before being placed on the disabled list with a "dead arm" that was later diagnosed as shoulder inflammation.
He reached 95 MPH in his rehab start on June 19 though and looks like he will be ready to rejoin the Yankees in early July.
If he can give them a performance similar to his 18-8 season from 2010 in the second half, he will be a huge boost to the Yankees' pursuit of the Red Sox in the AL East.
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Oakland Athletics: Josh Willingham
Josh Willingham's injury came at the worst time for the A's.
The A's' pitching struggled horribly during their 10-game losing streak. The pitching finally got back on track, but then the team's top offensive force goes down with an Achilles injury.
Willingham will be eligible to return to the A's the first week of July.
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Philadelphia Phillies: Brad Lidge
Brad Lidge has not played yet this season, but the Phillies would definitely welcome his return to the back of their bullpen.
Lidge has been on the disabled list all season with a right rotator cuff strain. He had hoped to return earlier, but suffered a setback in his rehab in early June.
The current target for him to return to the Phillies is after the All-Star break (although a specific date has not been determined).
The most important thing for Lidge though is that he is fully healthy for the end of the season and the playoffs. Philly should be fine to make the playoffs without him, but his presence would be a huge boost in closing out the most important games of the year.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Ryan Doumit
Ryan Doumit is currently rehabbing his fractured left ankle at the Pirates' Spring Training facility in Florida.
Pittsburgh would like to get him back behind the plate handling their pitching staff, but a realistic return date is not until the end of July, at the earliest.
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San Diego Padres: Aaron Harang
Aaron Harang was enjoying pitching in the pitcher-friendly PETCO Park prior to going on the disabled list June 13 with a right foot contusion.
He has been one of the Padres' best starters and a huge boost to an otherwise struggling team.
The Padres have not yet announced a target date for Harang to return from the disabled list.
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San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey
In one of the most gruesome—and controversial—catcher collisions in recent memory, the Giants lost their star catcher for the remainder of the season.
Posey's injury hurts the Giants in more ways than just his offensive contributions; he was arguably the heart-and-soul of their clubhouse. The Giants' fanbase literally mourned his loss for the better part of two weeks—some still are.
The Giants and Posey are hopeful he will be ready to resume catching duties in Spring Training 2012.
Meanwhile, he is easily the most missed player among the Giants' injured players and will remain so the rest of the year.
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Seattle Mariners: David Aardsma
David Aardsma has not played this season, but the Mariners would gladly welcome his return.
Brandon League has been good in his absence, but with League now out due to an ankle injury, the incumbent closer is needed in Seattle.
Aardsma completed 30 throws from 60 feet June 13 and is targeting a July return to the Mariners' bullpen.
Seattle has been a first-half surprise and is in contention for the AL West division title.
If he proves to be healthy, Aardsma could be a huge boost down the stretch with League shifting to a setup role.
St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols
It goes without saying that the best player in baseball will be the most missed player by his team, right?
Adam Wainwright had this spot locked up as the most important player the Cardinals would want back up until it was announced Albert Pujols would miss 4-6 weeks after fracturing his forearm.
Pujols had struggled the early part of the season, but was looking more like the MVP-caliber player as of late.
Pujols will likely be out until late July at the earliest. His return cannot come soon enough for St. Louis, as the injury gives the Brewers and Reds a chance to overtake the Cardinals in the NL Central standings.
Tampa Bay Rays: J.P. Howell
J.P. Howell is another winner—or loser, by default—as the only Rays player injured at the moment.
By the way, he is only listed as day-to-day with soreness in his left foot.
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Texas Rangers: Darren O'Day
Darren O'Day was off to a good start this season with a 2.45 ERA in eight appearances before experiencing a torn labrum in his left hip.
The Rangers' bullpen was exposed as an area that lacked depth earlier in the year when Neftali Feliz was placed on the disabled list.
Getting O'Day back from the disabled list will be a boost to the Rangers' chances at repeating as AL West champions. He is currently scheduled to go on a rehab assignment either June 24 or 25, and should return to the team sometime next week.
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Toronto Blue Jays: Casey Janssen
Casey Janssen has been very reliable for the Blue Jays in 28 appearances in 2011.
The righty is 2-0 with a 2.93 ERA and 25 strikeouts, compared to just eight walks so far this season.
He was expected to resume throwing June 23 after being placed on the disabled list with a sore right forearm.
Janssen's current expected return date is July 1.
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Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg
Stephen Strasburg underwent Tommy John surgery last season and has not pitched at all in 2011.
He was a star in his brief MLB career last year as a draw anywhere he went, and a marquee name for the Nationals to boast to their fanbase.
There were reports early in the season that he may try to pitch by the end of the season. The Nationals are not contenders this season though, and he should not be rushed.
Strasburg could return for Spring Training in 2012 and be the highly-hyped Opening Day starter.
Still, his presence this year would give Nationals fans a reason to be excited to go to the ballpark every fifth day.
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