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Last October, a terrifying collision left tight end Jermichael Finley briefly paralyzed on the turf of Lambeau Field. Much to everyone's relief, Finley recovered quite well. In fact, the former Green Bay Packer told ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde that this past week is "the best (he's) felt in this entire crazy process."

Wilde added that Finley "very much wants to return" to football as a member of the Packers. He currently remains a free agent.

Almost nine months after the injury, Finley's health remains a topic of discussion throughout the NFL. As expected, the injury—a spinal cord contusion that eventually led to spinal fusion surgery just under one month later—massively complicates his return to the game.

In short: Is it worth the risk?

As one might guess, there is no easy answer, and the discussion involves multiple parties.

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Masahiro Tanaka may have been a high-priced addition to the New York Yankees last offseason, but he's been an invaluable pitcher through the first half of the season. With CC Sabathia out for this season with knee problems and several others lost to injury, Tanaka has carried the team on his unhittable splitter. Now, his arm has come up sore and perhaps broken under the load.

The Yankees' team physician reviewed the images and examined Tanaka in Seattle on Thursday, finding a small sprain of the UCL, as noted by Sweeny Murty of WFAN. My sources tell me that the tear is very small, under 10 percent, which is below the normal threshold for surgery, which is somewhere between 25 and 33 percent. Tanaka also had some small osteophytes in his elbow, which is common.

No sprain is good, but this is far from the worst case. Tanaka will have a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection and rest for a time before starting a rehab throwing program.

If the tear does not heal or gets worse, Tanaka would be a candidate for Tommy John surgery. The UCL does often repair itself from small tears, so catching this early can be considered a positive. He is definitely going to be high risk for the near future and will have to be handled carefully. One option the team will have is to do regular checks on the area, either with MRIs or with diagnostic ultrasounds. 

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The St. Louis Cardinals are trying to chase down the Milwaukee Brewers, but they'll now have to do so without one of their top offensive players, lost to a torn ligament in his thumb.

The Cincinnati Reds are trying to chase down the Milwaukee Brewers, but they'll now have to do so without one of their top offensive players, lost to a torn ligament in his thumb.

Whoa. Deja vu.

There's some irony in the fact that two players who went face to face in a particularly nasty brawl a couple seasons ago, Yadier Molina and Brandon Phillips, are now headed to the disabled list and possibly surgery with near-identical injuries. The two stars are both likely to miss between eight and 12 weeks after spraining their thumbs.

These are similar injuries to what Bryce Harper and Josh Hamilton had earlier this season, with the good news being both came back well after surgery to reattach the ligament.

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The NFL's down months continue to wear on, but as the 2014 preseason closes in, ongoing injury concerns will start to draw more and more attention. Elsewhere, new injuries may—and almost certainly will—surface in the weeks to come.

Last month, this author reviewed several NFL injuries, ranking them somewhat unscientifically—publicly available medical details are incomplete, after all—in order of increasing level of alarm.

Nevertheless, much has changed in the past few weeks—both for better and, unfortunately, worse.

With that in mind—and with another three offseason weeks in the books—let's take a look at a few more health issues that might affect the way in which the 2014 preseason and regular season unfold.

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I feel a bit more optimistic about injuries than I have in a while. I showed you the Motus Sleeve last week, but that's hardly the only new thing coming into baseball to try to help in the battle. I might have been a bit early calling 2014 the "Year of the Sensor," but things like the Sleeve and the new MLB Statcast (which really needs a catchier name) are going to revolutionize things.

But they won't do it all at once. The PITCHf/x system was introduced to baseball a couple of years ago, and it took a while before anyone really understood how to analyze the mountains of data coming out of it. Now, that system is changing, and the flood of data just keeps coming. Perhaps the next thing baseball needs after sensors is a big filter, but it's more likely that the "Big Data" solutions will be the first try. 

Bloggers, if you want your next chance to move to the front office, start prepping to parse sensor data. The first to get to interesting solutions will be the next Josh Kalk or the next Dan Fox. Overall, it's going to be very good for baseball, especially if this round of data helps us figure out how to stay healthier. We're not there yet, so let's look around the league...


Edwin Encarnacion

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It seems like quite the roller coaster, going from the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft to being told that your pitching elbow didn't pass the team's physical. That's what Brady Aiken is facing, according to Jon Heyman of The lefty from San Diego with the All-American looks may have an all-too-common elbow issue and could be facing Tommy John surgery in the near future.

Beyond the shocking headline and the $1.5 million difference between what Aiken was going to get and what the Houston Astros want to pay him now—which is admittedly quite the difference—this isn't that worrisome. Tommy John surgery simply doesn't scare teams the way it once did, and in many situations it barely moves the needle. If anything, the Astros may see the physical issue as a way to save money more than a reason to be particularly concerned about Aiken.

One indication is the reported $5 million offer. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, the Astros could offer Aiken (or player that does not pass the physical) as little as 40 percent of the original bonus, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. That would be $2.6 million or almost half of what the Astros actually have offered. The agreed to $6.5 million is under the slot value, so some reports have the needed offer higher, at 40 percent of the $7.9 million slot.

Confused? Don't be, because at either value, it's clear that the Astros came in knowing they could get a good young pitcher at a below-slot value, once again appearing to go cheap in the draft. With both previous No. 1 picks, Carlos Correa and Mark Appel, the Astros signed them well below their slot value. They were able to use the extra money to sign other players, so it's not a purely cheap strategy.

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Neymar always gets checked physically on the field whether with Brazil or Barcelona, but an unintentional knee to the back in the waning minutes of Brazil's 2-1 quarterfinal win against Colombia has reportedly taken him off the field for the rest of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The Brazilian star was taken to the hospital by ambulance in order to have images taken of his back and to get the pain controlled, which likely took stronger drugs than could be administered at the stadium.

After the match, Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said that Neymar was out for the semifinal match against Germany, per Duncan Castles of

While initial reports focused on a fractured rib and Scolari held out some hope for a return, the BBC reported that it was far more serious.

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According to's Gregg Rosenthal, the Buffalo Bills announced that up-and-coming linebacker Kiko Alonso went down this week with a torn left ACL. Rosenthal adds that the injury occurred during a workout in Oregon.

The hits just keep on coming.

The news represents a devastating blow to the otherwise rising stocks of both Alonso and the Bills. At this point in the season, an ACL tear will almost certainly end the linebacker's 2014 season before it begins.

In the coming days, Alonso will likely undergo surgery to reconstruct the ligament—if he has not already. Then again, a concurrent medial collateral ligament (MCL) or meniscus injury—or both—might delay the operation for a few weeks to a month should Alonso's surgeon elect to wait for any swelling that may exist to subside before operating.

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Oven Mitts? That's what the Washington Nationals are using to protect both Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, essentially. With Harper coming back on Monday after missing eight weeks rehabbing from thumb surgery, it appears he's wearing the mitt to protect his hand on the bases, though nothing is known about why Zimmerman is also wearing it. Dan Steinberg has a good picture, but there's not enough of a look to tell what this is or why. 

A few weeks ago, Billy Hamilton wore something like this that was more of a sliding glove. He was asked to take it off by an umpire and I haven't seen it since, so I can't tell if this is similar. Harper and Josh Hamilton accentuate the risk of sliding, though Hamilton is more old school, reminding us that stealing bases like Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman does come with a toll on the body.

If the new mitts or sliding gloves or Alex Torres' hat are a sign, it's that we are at least seeing a little safety innovation on the field. It may be a very early stage, but there are a few new things out there that with some iteration could make the game better. Losing one of the top stars for two months isn't good for the game. Perhaps the next commissioner will put together some sort of X Prize for safety, putting a bounty up for anyone who can put together something that can save the game millions. 

For now, we have plenty of injuries to look at as we continue on the record pace of pitcher and overall injuries. As we near the halfway point of the season, the injury stats are stark that this is perhaps the one area of the game where innovation and creativity could have a real impact. Are we at a tipping point? I can't tell, but I do feel more awareness. For now, let's look around the league...

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Alex Rodriguez was using testosterone. This is hardly news, having first been outed a few years ago and then again as part of the Biogenesis case. Instead, the fact that MLB sanctioned his use by granting him a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) in 2007 is a bit of a stunner to those of us that have been following MLB's continued chase to get performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) out of the game.

Major League Baseball was forced to comment after the excerpt was released, saying: 

That's hardly enlightening. We're left with a lot of anti-Rodriguez hysteria, but not a lot of answers as to what this means. Even all the acronyms will get confusing! There are more questions than answers on this, but let's take a look at some of the bigger ones raised by this report.