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Clinical Notes: Chipper Jones and Ryan Madson
Nate Springfield | Sunday March 25th, 2012
Chipper Jones is the latest victim of the 2012 injury bug. (Icon SMI)
Chipper Jones is the latest victim of the 2012 injury bug. (Icon SMI)

Even though most fans view spring training stats as meaningless numbers that can't help predict a player's upcoming season, players dealing with spring training injuries should definitely be a concern to any fantasy baseball owner.

There have been over two weeks of spring training games played and we are inching closer to the start of the season.  Fantasy owners who have drafted an injured player hopefully have a backup plan.  Early spring training games have already delivered significant injuries to notable players, and over the weekend, two more players saw their 2012 season set back by injuries.

Chipper Jones - 3B, Atlanta Braves
Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones, almost ironically, unknowingly tore the meniscus in his left knee on Thursday morning just before announcing his plan to retire after the 2012 season.  Ailing knees are not new for Chipper, who spent time on the disabled list in 2010 after surgery to repair a torn ACL in the same knee.  The 39 year-old will start the 2012 season on the disabled list and is expected to miss the first month of the season, barring complications during his recovery.

Because of injury concerns and declining production, Chipper was not a prime target for most fantasy owners on draft day and was limited mainly to NL-only and deeper mixed leagues.  This injury inflates the value of Eric Hinske and Matt Diaz, who will now see more at-bats, more than it really hurts the veteran's fantasy value.  Projected starting leftfielder Martin Prado will start at third base in Chipper's absence, while Hinske will grab at-bats as the leftfielder against righthanded pitching and Diaz will see action when the Braves are facing a southpaw.

Ryan Madson - RP, Cincinnati Reds
Reds closer Ryan Madson battled a sore pitching elbow for most of spring training, and on Saturday morning it was announced that an MRI revealed that the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow had completely detached from the bone.  Madson will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the ligament and will miss the entire 2012 baseball season.  The righthander signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with Cincinnati this off-season, and the deal included a mutual option that will now surely not be picked up by the Reds.

The fantasy impact of the Madson injury could be detrimental to owners who have already invested a fairly high pick in the 31 year-old closer.  Before the report of injury, Madson, on average, was the 6th closer drafted according to Mock Draft Central.

The Reds have two options, both lefthanded, to take over the ninth inning in Cincinnati.  Sean Marshall, who was acquired via trade this off-season, will get first crack at filling that void.  The tall lefty has posted excellent numbers as a reliever throughout his career, carrying a 2.67 ERA and 9.4 strikeouts-per-nine-innings pitched.  The other option Reds manager Dusty Baker could use is flamethrower Aroldis Chapman.  The team considered using the former Cuban as a starter this year, but he has not been stretched out during spring training and will start the season pitching out of the bullpen.  Chapman will probably only get a legitimate shot as the full-time closer if Marshall is ineffective in the role.
Nate SpringfieldNate Springfield joined the Baseball Press crew for the 2010 season and hosts the site's podcast. His love for the game has grown thanks to fantasy baseball, with a specialty in NL-only auction leagues. You can contact him at nate@baseballpress.com or follow him on Twitter @NateSpringfield.