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Cactus Juice: Thumbs down on Chase Headley

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Head Games, 2013 (USAT)

Everyone needs a few simple rules and concepts to navigate through life. You don't tug on Superman's Cape. You don't play poker against anyone whose first name is a city. And in fantasy baseball, you don't mess with thumb injuries.

Sorry about that, Chase Headley. For the rest of March's draft season, you're just about dead to me.

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The Padres made the news official Monday: Headley has a small fracture on his left thumb and is projected to miss 4-6 weeks (with the full six weeks being the expected timetable). The injury means Logan Forsythe and cuddly sleeper Jedd Gyorko are likely safe as opening day starters, one at second base and one at third base. For an ordinary offensive club like the Padres, this is a crushing blow.

Injury analysis in fantasy baseball can often turn into a Mad Lib. Almost any injury will be described as "potentially lingering" or "power sapping." You've probably seen the notes, likely know what I'm speaking of here.

That said, any thumb injury immediately gets my guard up and forces a visit to the re-rank grid. Recall how an early-season thumb injury crashed Justin Upton's power in 2012. Or consider the wipeout June (.538 OPS, no homers) that Dustin Pedroia posted last year (hat tip, D.J. Short) after a thumb injury in the final week of May. (To Pedroia's credit, he rebounded with a good second half.) Headley was already dealing with Regression Police issues for 2013; now he has to deal with the Karma Police, too.

Headley collapsed to No. 15 on my third base board, trailing Mark Trumbo and Kyle Seager and ahead of Pedro Alvarez, Will Middlebrooks and Mike Moustakas. Rankings are always fluid to me, especially in March. Am I too low on Headley? Too optimistic? Win the debate in the comments and you might win the rank.

If you're a regular in this blog, you already know my general rule with long-term injuries. I refuse to assume quick returns and seamless transitions. One of the worst things a fantasy owner can do is view his or her injured players through rose-colored glasses. Today's a day that calls for realism, not blind optimism.

Put on your extra-protective batting gear and let's discuss Headley, and all related subject matter, in the forum below. (And as a reward, I've included a little hoops help for you at the bottom. Our experts won't steer you wrong on the hardwood. Cross training for the win.)

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