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Clinical Notes: Haren, Howard, Kemp, and More
Reggie Yinger | Friday July 6th, 2012
Fantasy owners rejoice as Matt Kemp is close to returning. (US Presswire)
Fantasy owners rejoice as Matt Kemp is close to returning. (US Presswire)
The last several weeks have been tough on fantasy owners as they deal with injuries to their star players. No matter what type of league you play in, you've likely had to make changes due to injured players.

Below are some brief round-ups and details of the recent developments, as well as some analysis of what the injuries could do to fantasy rosters.

With the All-Star break right around the corner, many owners will have their top players back in the lineup ready for the second half of play.

Matt Kemp - OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp is expected to return to the lineup very soon. After hitting the disabled list for the second time this season with a hamstring injury, he's ready to return to your fantasy lineup. The 2012 NL All-Star was off to a torrid start this season, hitting .355/.444/.719 with a 1.163 OPS and 12 home runs in 36 games before being sidelined for the second time this season. All reports indicate that his rehab assignment is going well and he's running around at full speed. Hopefully he returns to his offensive production from earlier this season and puts on a show during the second half of play.

Dee Gordon - SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
Speedy shortstop Dee Gordon was placed on the disabled list and will have surgery on his thumb to repair ligament damage. He's expected to miss between six and eight weeks, but it could be longer. Gordon, 24, currently leads the National League in stolen bases with 30, but has a .280 on-base percentage and a .229 batting average. With all the injuries to the Dodgers roster, most of their lineups these days look like Cactus League exhibition games during spring training. Luis Cruz will see a lot of time at shortstop moving forward for L.A.

Dan Haren - SP, Los Angeles Angels
Starting pitcher Dan Haren has never been placed on the disabled list during his career until now. Haren, 31, was placed on the disabled list with back stiffness after his latest start against the Cleveland Indians on July 3. His starts have been rocky for most of the season, especially during the month of June, as he allowed 22 earned runs in 27 2/3 innings. From local reports in California, Haren has been pitching with back issues for most of the season. The move to place Haren on the disabled list is smart by the Angels, as they'll need him later in the season as the team focuses on winning the American League West against the tough Texas Rangers. He's expected to return from the disabled list on July 16 if all goes well.

Lance Berkman - 1B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Veteran Lance Berkman underwent surgery for a meniscus injury and was expected to miss up to ten weeks of playing time. With the surgery over, he will likely begin a rehab assignment in the near future as he returns to playing baseball every day. Berkman, 36, is no stranger to knee surgeries and could return to the Cardinals lineup sometime after the All-Star break. The Cardinals resume play on July 13, but that might be a stretch on Berkman's return date. Prior to the injury, Big Puma was hitting .333/.429/.571 with 1 home run in 13 games. When Berkman returns, the Cardinals will have to make a decision on where to play the hot-hitting Allen Craig, with second base remaining a possibility.

Jacoby Ellsbury - OF, Boston Red Sox
The 2011 American League MVP candidate is close to returning to the leadoff spot for the Red Sox after appearing in just seven games and missing close to three months with a shoulder subluxation. The 28-year-old speedster has been acting as the designated hitter in rehab games in Florida and recently just started playing in the field. His bat and speed will be a welcomed sign to Red Sox fans and fantasy owners everywhere.

Carl Crawford - OF, Boston Red Sox
Much like Jacoby Ellsbury, barring a setback, outfielder Carl Crawford could rejoin Boston's lineup shortly after the All-Star break. Cawford, 30, has missed all of the regular season after undergoing wrist surgery during the off-season and then suffering an injury in his throwing elbow. Crawford is currently rehabbing with the Double-A Portaland affiliate for the Red Sox and has not experienced any setbacks thus far.

Dustin Pedroia - 2B, Boston Red Sox
Keeping with the theme in Boston, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right thumb injury. Pedroia, 28, has been battling thumb soreness for most of the season and his offensive numbers have struggled because of it. In 74 games this season, the infielder is hitting .266/.326/.400 with 6 home runs. It marks his first trip to the DL since the 2010 season. In the meantime, Boston is relying on the versatile Nick Punto for second base duties.

Ryan Howard - 1B, Philadelphia Phillies
After missing the entire 2012 season to date, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is likely to return to the lineup against the Atlanta Braves prior to the All-Star break. Howard, 32, suffered an Achilles' injury during the final game of the 2011 season and required surgery during the off-season. He completed a rehabilitation assignment earlier in the week and has played in the field during back-to-back games. The Phillies have struggled offensively for most of the season, but with Chase Utley returning earlier in the month and now Howard, their fortune could change. While it's uncertain how much strength Howard has in his leg, his bat is a welcome addition to the Philadelphia lineup.

Drew Storen - RP, Washington Nationals
Reliever Drew Storen has remained on the 60-day disabled list since spring training with a bone spur in his throwing elbow. However, the 24-year-old right-hander appeared in his first rehab game this week and is expected to make three more appearances before returning to the Nationals sometime after the All-Star break. If all goes according to plan, Storen will be eased back into game action, but not as the closer according to manager Davey Johnson. With Tyler Clippard pitching well as the team's closer and the team in first place, there's no reason to change things at this time.

Andrew Cashner - SP/RP, San Diego Padres
Hard throwing Texas native Andrew Cashner landed on the 15-day disabled list after leaving the game during his third start of the season with a strained lat. The 25-year-old righty was primarily used out of the bullpen to start the season, but was stretched out to be a starter by the Padres during the month of June. Overall, Cashner has a 0-0 record with a 2.53 ERA and 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings as a starter this season. He's expected to receive an MRI later this week and could miss the rest of the month of July based on the results.
Reggie YingerReggie is a writer and the co-founder of Baseball Press. He enjoys fantasy baseball and hates when players bunt in baseball.