Nic Civale is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and former NCAA Division I Baseball player. He combines his knowledge of anatomy and physiology with that of baseball mechanics to provide expectations for injured players. Utilize The MLB Injury Report to make the most of your fantasy season.
NL West – MLB Injury Report
Zac Gallen – SP
While Ketel Marte, Jordan Luplow, Seth Beer, and Nick Ahmed are expected to be ready for opening day, Zac Gallen is now unlikely to be the Opening Day starter for the Diamondbacks.
Gallen is dealing with shoulder Bursitis. A bursa is a sac-like gel pad that is located in areas of the body that need additional cushioning between moving structures. In the shoulder, there are several moving parts, including contracting muscles and moving bones. There are two bursae in the shoulder, so it is difficult to fully assess Gallen’s situations with accuracy, as they have not specified which is inflamed. That being said, the recovery time and process are very similar. Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa to the point of pain and oftentimes, visible swelling. Treatment involves resting and light stretching, but more importantly, finding the root-cause of the problem. Was it mechanical imperfection that elicited the bursitis? Was it a muscle imbalance in which one muscle was disproportionally tight compared to the others around it? This is the type of issue that would be aided with stretching, modalities (heat/e-stim/ultrasound) and maybe cupping to bring healing blood flow to the area. I don’t expect Gallen to deal with this issue long-term or even more than a few weeks. It is, admittedly, frustrating to see another injury pop up on such a young, talented pitcher. Luckily, I think this particular injury is very little to worry about, and if you liked him going into this season, it shouldn’t change much at all. I expect him to be back in the rotation by the end of April
Everyone is seemingly healthy for the Rockies. Everyone will be on the field. The question is, is that enough to win?
Los Angeles Dodgers
Dustin May, SP
May, who underwent Tommy John Surgery in May of last season, hopes to return to a regimented throwing program in April. He’s progressed from his clearance to start tossing in October and is meeting his scheduled checkpoints. If May comes back as a starter, expect mid-August. If he comes back as a high leverage reliever, post AS break is a possibility. I would anticipate the Dodgers being in a comfortable position in the standings come mid-late summer, and would be shocked if they had any motivation to rush him back. May is a long-term starter and maybe ace for the Dodgers. They will be careful with him.
Max Muncy, 1B
Max partially tore his left elbow UCL last year and the extent is unclear. He played in a simulated game earlier this week (3/15/22), and says he’s around 85%. That is likely in reference to how he feels and not the actual healing of the UCL. Regardless, that’s encouraging news to a team that now has a DH slot in their lineup. Investing in Muncy is a risk, as re-injury of the UCL is always on the table. He’s more likely than just about any position player in baseball to have a UCL issue take playing time away from him.
I don’t see this affecting his swing, however, and I’ve either kept him or traded for him at a discount in multiple leagues this year. I believe it is a worthy gamble to make in drafts and with trades if you want to win this year. With an ADP around 112 amidst other 1B like Ryan Mountcastle and Jared Walsh, I would absolutely take a questionably healthy Muncy in that spot.
San Diego Padres
Fernando Tatis Jr.
The big one. I discussed Tatis Jr’s wrist and underlying labrum issue on my brand-new podcast, the most recent FantraxHQ installation, MLB Injury Insight. As has been widely reported, Tatis is expected to miss much of, if not more than, the next three months to repair a fracture in his right wrist. It was reportedly sustained in a motorcycle accident earlier this offseason. I truly think Tatis will be the same player he always has been when he returns, but instead of 600 ABs, we can be hopeful for something closer to 300-350, if all goes perfectly.
Because of this, Tatis is still worth drafting in the mid-rounds. Combining 300 Tatis ABs with 300 replacement level ABs would still net you something like 105 R/39 HR/103 RBI/ 17 SB with a .270 average (using Paul DeJong’s per 162 game stats to determine the other 300 ABs). If you have the IR slots or a deep enough bench, how could you not go after this type of value in the mid-rounds of your draft!?
Despite my optimism here, I remain more worried about Tatis’ long-term situation regarding his shoulder and the labrum. The labrum is essentially what extends the socket of the shoulder and allows the unstable joint to become more stable. A tear can be painful, but also ask more of the rotator cuff muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor) to provide stability. This can cause a progressive wearing down of these muscles, although it is not imminent.
That being said, this is also an absolutely golden opportunity for team physical therapists to get time with Tatis and work on his shoulder. While the right wrist is healing, the team would have every incentive to continue to provide the L shoulder with hands-on manual therapy treatments. Additionally, rotator cuff strengthening and scapular stabilizing exercises could be emphasized. This can only help in the long-term outlook towards the left labrum
Tommy La Stella – 2B
La Stella underwent an Achilles tendon sheath inflammation procedure on his left lower leg in October after the 2021 season. The intention was to relieve swelling and fluid build-up around the Achilles tendon that was causing discomfort and limited function. To this point in time, it appears as if all is going well. La Stella has returned to sprinting, base running, fielding and should start swinging soon. It is very unlikely he is ready for Opening Day, but La Stella could be expected to see the field by May. He should be 100% recovered by that time. La Stella isn’t likely going to cost much in most fantasy drafts; he’s a 33-year-old infielder who hasn’t eclipsed 325 ABs or 16 HRs in the past 6 seasons. He also has 1 stolen base in that time.