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Good health is a foretold conclusion for most 2014 NFL draft prospects. For others, injuries constitute only a minor speed bump in an otherwise-promising road to the NFL.

Yet for an unfortunate few, a serious or ill-timed injury may seriously affect their competitiveness in this year's draft.

As NFL teams continue to sift through the field, several injuries will raise the proverbial red flag, eliminating players from some teams' big boards altogether. Then again, other players may fall just far enough, becoming a bona fide steal, so to speak.

With that in mind, let's take a look at a few players with injury concerns that may limit their ceiling but still leave the door to the NFL wide open.

Elise Amendola

Under the Knife is constantly evolving, but yet it remains the same. If we could go back to that late April day 13 years ago when I sent out an email detailing five key injuries, maybe we could change what this is now, but it remains structurally much the same. 

The spirit of UTK has shifted to football, basketball and soccer. Injuries are being considered everywhere, whether it's an "epidemic" of ACL injuries, hamstring strains or Tommy John surgeries. It's nice to see everyone else panicking and trying to catch up. Welcome to my world, folks. It's nice of you to join me after all these years.

UTK has always been about telling the story of baseball through the lens of sports medicine. It tells the story of the athletic trainers and doctors who work amazing hours trying to keep players healthy. It's about those players trying to overcome challenges or avoid them altogether. It's advances in technology, surgery and equipment.

UTK has gone from an email to a website to video and who knows what else. Team Stream would have looked like magic to me in 2002, but now, it's simply the best way to consume information. I used to wonder about how to get people to read about injuries. Now I wonder how to get them to read about injuries on their iPhone. 

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Mat Latos has a lot of new scars. They match his tattoos in ways, but they're hardly fashionable. He has a couple small ones on his elbow from having bone chips removed, then another couple on his knee where his meniscus was removed. 

With another arm issue, there were worries that he was headed for another new set, but the tests came back relatively positive. An MRI showed a flexor mass strain in his forearm but also showed that the UCL was strong, per Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Even with that, the naysayers point out that flexor strains are often precursors to other elbow injuries, pointing to cases like Dylan Bundy and A.J. Burnett. I hesitate to do more than mention these. Each case is different, and knowing that, Dr. Tim Kremchek would have not only seen the UCL on MRI but also visually during the chip removal: I have to think that a cascade to the UCL is unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely.

Latos' strain is going to be a significant setback. He'll have to take some time off to let it heal, then start building up his stamina again. This would be a great time to get a look at his biomechanics and make some slight adjustments, if necessary. 

Jason Getz

The season hasn't started well for the Atlanta Braves. Before they even got to Opening Day, they'd lost two of their starters (Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy) to Tommy John surgery. Again. They've had a below-average record with pitchers over the last few years, largely the entire Fredi Gonzalez era and looking at his usage patterns reinforces that correlation.

For Craig Kimbrel, any arm problem comes with additional worries. With arms like Jonny Venters and Cory Gearrin on the shelf, the bullpen is getting a bit thin in front of the closer. Jordan Walden had one nice season in Anaheim, but the rest? Well, they're "guys" in baseball parlance. Hard throwers who have a chance, but are unlikely to be top relievers in any context.

Kimbrel's injury isn't serious, explained here by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien, but sometimes serious injuries start out that way. So far, sources tell me it's a mild strain akin to "dead arm," but Kimbrel has had some issues throughout the spring. That points to a minor strain or impingement that's being aggravated and re-aggravated by pitching. At worst, Kimbrel will have to be used more judiciously, but there's little evidence that Gonzalez knows how to do that well.

The Braves would be smart to come up with some "rules" about his usage, but those will have to be informed by how situations make him feel. Kimbrel may be fine with back-to-back games, but perhaps three days in a row would be too much. If so, none of those. There are various other scenarios, but they'll have to be tested, and unfortunately, that's very difficult to do at the major league level. 

Kathy Willens

Good news is always good, but when it comes to medical information, "good news" can often be a term of art. People usually learn that quickly, with things like a negative X-ray being a positive outcome, but in a case like Dustin Pedroia, good news on his wrist might be relative.

Pedroia played most of last season with a sprained thumb. His injury is similar to what Josh Hamilton and Yasiel Puig are currently dealing with, but with differing severity. Hamilton's ligament was ruptured, necessitating surgery, while Pedroia's sprain was just enough to annoy him all season. Of course, it also gave an opportunity for everyone to anoint St. Grit for his play. 

Pedroia was able to play through all the way to a shiny new World Series ring, and yes, flags fly forever. But so does arthritis. While Pedroia's current issue is down in the wrist and there were worries about a fracture, there's now concern that playing through the injury has caused some sort of imbalance.

What the Red Sox have told us is that there's no fracture and no structural issue. With wrists, there's a lot of things going on in there. Sources tell me the likeliest culprit for Pedroia's current issues is inflammation in the TFC. Yes, the dreaded triangular fibrocartilage complex. The cortisone shot he got in his wrist, according to Alex Speier, points to this as well, so we'll see how he responds. 

Inverted W? Power T? It all ends in TJ.
Orlin Wagner

The streak is over. Whether you count Jason Isringhausen against the Tampa Bay Rays or not, it's still an incredible streak of health. It doesn't help Matt Moore now, as detailed by USA Today, who tested the elbow out on Monday afternoon and immediately knew that rehab wasn't going to work. He'll now head to Dr. James Andrews for ligament reconstruction and a year of rehab. Sadly, this went exactly how Angel Borrelli expected.

Quick story: Several years back, I was at the ASMI Injuries in Baseball course that Dr. Andrews and Dr. Glenn Fleisig put on. One of the presenters was Ken Crenshaw, then the head athletic trainer for the Rays and now in the same position with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He presented a great case about Tommy John rehab, including some new methods of regaining proprioception earlier in the process.

I caught him after the presentation and asked him how Seth McClung was doing. Ken was a bit surprised, since as with any medical presentation, there were no names and they'd blacked out the pitcher's face in pictures. "How did you know it's McClung?" he asked me. It was simple. They'd had no other Tommy John rehabs in the previous 24 months.

The Rays have been good at this for a while and jealously guard their methods. As I detailed in the article about Moore's injury, there are hints as to what some of these are, but it's not clear how they all come together. One of the biggest questions I have is why the methods don't travel. Crenshaw has been with the Dbacks for a while, and Nick Paparesta, another former Rays AT, has been with the A's for a couple seasons now. Neither team has nearly the same results that the Rays do, despite having great medical staffs.

Ross D. Franklin

"I fought the wall and the wall won." If only I could have gotten Joe Strummer to do a version of that before he passed, we might have less stars running headlong into walls. Curtis Granderson is the latest to test the wall and come away sore, but it could have been worse.

The video is available of how Granderson slammed into the steel cage at Chase Field, which explains why he has a sore shoulder, ribs and knee. He hit it at speed and solidly, with nothing there besides a couple steps of dirt to warn and protect him. Granderson is lucky that there's nothing broken, or at least bruised more, holding him out longer.

I think the bigger question is why something like this is allowed to exist at the major league level. It's bad enough that minor league stadiums have gaps in padding that lead to near tragic consequences, but there's a lot of areas in major league stadiums that are unpadded. It's not just Wrigley that lacks padding and in that case, it's so well known that players know enough not to run headlong into the ivy.

Padding is actually one of those invisible things that you would think MLB would have a policy on. Is simple foam the best possible substance for this in 2014? Watch the next time that a ball hits a padded outfield wall and see how it reacts.


Right now, the MVP of the Yankees is not a player, but Steve Donahue. The longtime Yankees athletic trainer has been holding the team together with white tape and long hours, but the team is falling apart due to its very construction. If anyone thought a team with an aging Derek Jeter and Brian Roberts was going to stay healthy all season, I have a bridge to sell them.

Jeter has shown himself to be reasonably healthy, but there's obviously concerns about how he's going to hold up. While the ankle has limited him in the field and on the bases, there's the thought that the Yankees are slowly testing him while not overexposing him. Holding him on in Toronto is one thing, but there's a distinct chance that the team is at the point where they're reluctant to play him in back-to-back games, let alone day after night.

The Yankees are letting Jeter have his victory lap, but with a lack of backups, I have a hard time believing that this was the plan. Losing Brendan Ryan certainly hurt the infield more than you'd think, but if the Yankees have to disguise Jeter all season, they'll essentially be playing a man down all year.

The situation is the same with Brian Roberts. He hasn't been healthy in quite a while, and expecting him to suddenly go 120 games is folly. He's a cheap lottery ticket, and finding a backup is as easy as figuring out how to spell "Yangervis." Roberts' back spasms aren't unexpected; it was always going to be something. The question now is whether the possible production is worth the effort necessary to keep him on the field given all the other work Donahue is going to need to be doing.

Darron Cummings

Last February, a broken foot prevented former University of Notre Dame defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt from participating in the NFL Scouting Combine.

According to NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, doctors diagnosed a Jones fracture in his left foot during combine medical exams and, as a result, did not clear him to participate. At the time, Jeremiah's source projected a six-to-eight week recovery following surgery.

If such a timeline holds true, Tuitt may be returning to action very soon. However, even "small" Jones fractures require precise management and are at significant risk of complications, and as such, a six-to-eight week recovery may prove optimistic.

A closer look at the injury and its relevant anatomy shows why.

Butch Dill

In January, former University of Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri declared for the 2014 NFL draft—a move AL.com's Andrew Gribble called a "stunner"—about three months after tearing the ACL in his left knee.

Tuesday, at Alabama's second pro day, Sunseri proved just how far he'd come. Gribble notes that the former Crimson Tide standout posted 40-yard dash times between 4.48 and 4.52 seconds—while also completing multiple agility drills—less than six months after rupturing his ACL.

In short, that's impressive.

Despite recent, nearly incomprehensible recoveries—such as that of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson—ACL tears remain a threatening knee injury for any football player.

Then again, for Sunseri, it seems the stars aligned.