This column isn't targeted for injury news on a daily basis. We'd prefer to focus on player performance and the subtle changes that make someone ownable and unownable. But when Bryce Harper takes on an outfield wall at Chavez Ravine, that's going to push its way to the top of the fold. Time for a SoCal meetup.
The Nationals were nursing a comfortable 6-0 lead on Monday (thanks, Josh Beckett) when the Harper collision went down in the bottom of the fifth. A.J. Ellis drove a ball deep to right field and for some reason Harper lost his bearings; watch the replay and you'll see Harper completely unprepared for the presence of the wall. Good lord, that's a nasty shot. The Nats took Harper out immediately while fantasy owners held their breath.
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All of the initial check-ins with Harper are coming back favorably. His agent told beat writer Adam Kilgore that 11 stitches were required but Harper doesn't have a concussion. That established, the club figures to do its full diligence with its franchise player and Harper isn't necessarily out of the woods yet. We should know a lot more by the end of the day (lunchtime update, from Kilgore: X-rays came back negative and Harper is day-to-day).
Yoenis Cespedes and B.J. Upton were also part of the late-night outfielder drop; Cespedes had an early exit because of a stomach illness, while a shoulder contusion (thanks, Wade Miley fastball) took Upton off the field prematurely. Both players are day-to-day. Cespedes cranked his seventh homer in the Oakland victory, though he's stuck on 0-for-3 as a base stealer. The less we say about Upton's horrendous season, the better.
Houston infielder Jose Altuve should be fine despite his jaw injury Monday; he was hurt in a collision with right fielder Jimmy Paredes. The Astros offense has been surprisingly not terrible through the opening six weeks (with 156 runs, they're tied for 17th), but there's no depth on this roster - Houston can't afford to lose someone like Altuve. Fantasy owners feel the same way, given the ugly state of second base in today's fake-baseball world. (Noon update: Altuve will miss some time after all, for personal reasons: he's been placed on the Bereavement List following the death of his grandmother.)
• Say this for the Brewers, they did their homework prior to Monday's game against the Pirates. Milwaukee knows Bucs righty A.J. Burnett isn't capable of (or interested in) holding on base runners, so the Brew Crew ran wild. Jean Segura bagged three bases, Norichika Aoki copped two, and Carlos Gomez added one of his own. That's a 6-for-6 night against Burnett and catcher Michael McKenry, sparking Milwaukee's 5-1 win.
Over Burnett's career just 22 percent of would-be thieves have been cut down, and they're 51-for-53 against him since he landed in Pittsburgh. It's not easy to get a hit against Burnett these days, but once you're on first, the carousel is open. It will be fun to see what Milwaukee cooks up when the teams meet again over Memorial Day weekend; in the meantime, Burnett gets ready for Houston.
Segura's quickly become one of the roto-critical players of the year. He's posted a ridiculous .368-20-6-16-13 line through 35 games, which ranks him second among all Yahoo! hitters (only Miguel Cabrera scores higher). Would you be willing to use a Top 40 selection on Segura in a start-fresh draft today? One Yahooligan had no trouble writing that check in Monday's F&F Redraft.
• When does the other cleat drop on Chicago starter Travis Wood? The surprising lefty has posted eight consecutive quality starts, mashing up a 2.03 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. The Rockies couldn't touch him on Monday, managing just two hits and three walks over seven scoreless innings. Wood is a Top 12 pitcher in the Yahoo! game to this point.
But does Wood have any staying power? He's only striking out 6.08 batters per nine innings, and his walk rate is solid but not exceptional (2.87/9). A friendly HR/FB rate is telling part of the story (6.1 percent), a story the peripherally-suggested ERAs don't believe (3.65 FIP, 4.46 xFIP, 4.45 SIERA). Maybe there's a logical reason why Wood is holding batters to a 15.1 percent line-drive rate, but we have to expect that to regress at some point, too.
At least the schedule is playing nicely: Wood faces the Mets on Sunday and the no-hit White Sox at the end of the month. He might get shafted at Cincinnati on Memorial Day weekend, but after eight consecutive starts of value, Wood has some circle-of-trust privileges. We might as well ride the wave until there's a solid reason to change course. Share your level-of-confidence in the comments.
• Andy Dirks gave us a temporary roto run in 2012, and he's back at it with the Tigers. Dirks ripped three hits in Monday's rout of Houston, including a homer and double, and already has four homers and four steals through 96 at-bats. Batting average shouldn't be an issue here; he's a career .288 man over 196 games. Dirks might be the team's dedicated leadoff hitter while Austin Jackson rehabs, so it's a perfect time to kick the tires. Dirks awaits your contract in 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Speed Round: The Yankees should have Curtis Granderson back shortly, perhaps as soon as Tuesday. He's been effective in a rehab assignment at Triple-A, going 7-for-17 with a homer over four games . . . Although Ryan Madson is making strides in his rehab assignment, he's expected to be the set-up man when he returns to Anaheim, working in front of Ernesto Frieri . . . Beckett's start was abbreviated by a left-groin strain, not that he was fooling the Nationals at all. Beckett now has a 5.40 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. No chicken for you . . . Terry Francona has all sorts of lineup options now that Lonnie Chisenhall has been demoted. Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn could benefit, but there's not one clear path Francona is likely to opt for daily . . . A sore shoulder kept Chris Perez out of Sunday's save chance, but he was considered available Monday . . . Josh Hamilton hit the showers early Monday, dealing with a sinus problem and a respiratory infection. You'll remember Hamilton also had sinus issues late last season . . . The Royals needed to get their Ya-Yas out against someone, so a trip to Anaheim came at the right time (thanks Blanton, thanks Roth). KC rolled up 11 runs and 19 hits and some notable slumpers broke out here (not so fast, Moustakas). Jump into the summary, enjoy your numbers. Billy Butler and Salvador Perez are two hitters I'm not at all worried about . . . Luke Hochevar picked up the cheap working-man save in the Royals rout, finishing up the last three innings (3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K). The stubborn Royals resisted a Hochevar role change for years, but he's finding success in the bullpen this spring (1.17 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 3 BB, 17 K). Get out the list of failed starters who shined in the bullpen - it's time for another entry . . . A.J. Griffin cruised past the Rangers (7 IP, 1 R, 9 K), and although there's a WHIP differential, his career numbers are fairly balanced home and away. This doesn't mean I want to use Griffin in Arlington next week (if it comes to that), but maybe he'll squeeze into the Kansas City series on the weekend.