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Written by Nicholas Kramer (Contact & Archive) on April 08, 2008
The list of players on baseball’s disabled list feature several players necessary to their team’s success in 2008: Pedro Martinez, Mike Hampton, JJ Putz, Kazuo Matsui, Rocco Baldelli, Kelvim Escobar, and John Lackey. All are now on the DL and Baldelli probably will never play professional baseball again.
Martinez and Hampton are so injury prone that it’s almost a guarantee if you see them warming up, you’ll probably see them on the DL fairly soon. Pedro Martinez is out 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury. Mike Hampton will be out for a while with a strained pectoral muscle that was hurt while warming up for his first start since 2005.
Some may argue that Martinez and Hampton’s injuries were insignifigant, but they would be wrong. Atlanta and New York need starting pitching. New York and Atlanta will probably look at David Wells, Jeff Weaver and Claudio Vargas who are all still free agents. At the end of the month do not be surprised if the Nationals are in first place in the NL East due to these two injuries.
Putz went down after blowing a save against the Rangers. Putz injured his ribcage and is expected to be out for just two weeks. This could hurt the Mariners’ jump on taking a lead in the AL West as many were predicting they would thanks to the Angels’ injury woes. The Mariners will go with a Mark Lowe until Putz returns to the bullpen.
Matsui, the second baseman for the Houston Astros, was expected to be a lead off hitter and boost in defense of the Astros. Matsui suffered an anal fissure and needed minor surgery. Although only expected to be gone a month, the Astros are in a tight NL Central that may not have a clear winner till the end of September. The Astros desperately needed him healthy for the whole season. As it stands now the Astros season could be over before it started.
Lackey and Escobar are two huge starters for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels are experiencing some of the worst injuries to hit their pitching staff in years. In fact Lackey and Escobar are not the only two injured. Middle relief ace Scot Shields is also on the DL. The good news is that Lackey and Shields could be back sooner then first thought. The bad news Escobar could be out the entire season with a tear in his pitching shoulder.
Escobar and Lackey combined to win 37 games last season for the Angels, and were expected to continue to be dominating in 2008. Escobar’s and Lackey’s presence will be missed during the season. The Angels could lose the AL West if the Mariners get hot and a wild card spot seems unlikely with the AL Central being so tough this season.
Sadly, Baldelli is looking at retirement after finding out he has mitochondrial disorder. His affliction keeps him in a constant state of fatigue. Baldelli is right now on the 60 day DL and is expected not to return at all in 2008. The disorder maybe so debilitating that a return to baseball is not expected. The Tampa Bay Rays are surprisingly contenders in the AL East this season. Even with Baldelli out the Rays may not be hurting too much because of the depth that the Rays have in the outfield.
Injuries so far for 2008 may prove to be very harmful to teams that were expected to contend. Teams will be looking at free agency and their minor league systems for replacements, but nothing can replace the presence or overall commitment of the guys who are regular starters and consistent at what they do.