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Daily Dose: Oblique Outlook


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The word oblique, in baseball, like ACL in football, is basically a curse word when it comes to injuries.

Oblique injuries are often the most difficult to predict in regards to a return date for players, and rarely does an oblique injury yield a speedy recovery. And at this time of year, an oblique injury can be a death sentence for a player's season.

Such is the case with Brett Gardner. The 30-year-old suffered a strained oblique on a check swing in the first inning of Thursday's game. He'll undergo an MRI on the oblique on Friday after which more will be known about his situation, but with just 15 games left in the regular season there's a good chance Gardner's fantasy season is over.

The news may be better for two other players recovering from oblique injuries. Justin Masterson, who was having a great year at 14-10 with a 3.52 ERA, threw from 90 feet Thursday in his continued recovery from an oblique strain. Masterson suffered the strained left oblique during his September 2 start against the Orioles.

He'll throw the same distance on Friday, and while there remains no solid timetable for his return, the 28-year-old said he's just happy to be making progress.

"I still don't know what the exact timetable is," Masterson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "But we're moving in the right direction. We've got a baseball in our hand."

He's still got some work to do before returning to the mound, but any news is good news for the right-hander.

The news is also good for Colby Rasmus. The Blue Jays outfielder hasn't played since August 11 with a left oblique strain but has been getting closer to a return in recent days. He's been targeting a return this weekend, and after Thursday's work that seems like a distinct possibility.

"Today I took pretty much game-speed swings," Rasmus said.

The timing is as good for Rasmus as it is for the Blue Jays. After losing Jose Bautista last week and losing Edwin Encarnacion for a number of games recently the team will benefit from the return of the 27-year-old Rasmus. Before his injury, Rasmus hit .273/.335/.478 with 18 home runs this season. If everything continues to progress as planned, look for Rasmus to rejoin the Jays' lineup sometime in the next few days.

Click here for the latest MLB Player News on Gardner, Masterson, Rasmus and everyone else, and follow @Rotoworld_BB on Twitter for all the newest developments. Feel free to shoot any fantasy questions to @Nate_Grimm as we head down the home stretch as well.

Encouraging News For Edwin

The news also got better for Rasmus' teammate Encarnacion on Thursday.

After a report came out Wednesday that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was unsure whether Encarnacion would be able to return this season, the 30-year-old hit off a tee on Thursday with an eye on returning this weekend. He's planning to take batting practice on Friday, and if that goes well there seems to be little standing between the designated hitter and a return to the starting lineup.

It's quite a change from Wednesday, when Gibbons said Encarnacion's wrist, while improving, may not be game-ready before the end of the season. It seemed odd after Encarnacion was deemed day-to-day with the injury as recently as Tuesday.

Whether Encarnacion experienced a miracle recovery or the Wednesday diagnosis was a bit exaggerated, his owners won't complain if he returns sooner than later. And "sooner" is looking more and more like this weekend.

Starling Development

Despite making four appearances in the Pirates' last four games, Starling Marte still hasn't had a plate appearance since August 18. That may soon change.

Marte has been limited to pinch-running and entering the game as a defensive replacement recently while he recovers from a right hand contusion, but he took full swings in a simulated game on Thursday as he gets closer to a return to the starting lineup. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said the simulated game swings were the "last piece" of the rehab before returning to the Pirates' lineup.

It'll be a welcome return for Marte's owners. The 25-year-old was one of the more dynamic fantasy players before his injury, batting .282/.343/.443 with 11 home runs and 36 stolen bases on the year. Owners should monitor the Pirates lineups in the coming days, but if Marte's starting for the Bucs he should be starting in fantasy, too.

National League Quick Hits: Hanley Ramirez left Thursday's game with hamstring tightness. He missed time with a hamstring injury earlier this season, so there's obviously some cause for concern. He's being considered day-to-day for now ... Domonic Brown (heel) took batting practice on Thursday and said he feels "close to 100 percent." He's a good bet to return before the season runs out ... Yadier Molina missed a second straight game due to a family issue on Thursday. He's expected to return to the lineup on Friday ... Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Jason Grilli will be utilized in the seventh and eighth innings for the time being. Mark Melancon will hold onto the closer role for the near future ... Chad Gaudin (carpal tunnel syndrome) will throw another simulated game on Friday. He could be activated from the DL shortly after if it goes well. It's still undecided whether he'll return as a starter or a reliever ... Allen Craig (foot) is still in a walking boot as a precaution. It's still up in the air as to whether he'll make it back for the end of the regular season ... Brandon Beachy is still experiencing elbow discomfort. There's a good possibility he'll be shut down for the rest of the season if the discomfort doesn't subside quickly ... Ryan Zimmerman hit his sixth home run in six games and eighth in the month of September. Owners should send the third baseman a fruit basket for his contribution.

American League Quick Hits: Joe Mauer (concussion) felt fine after a workout at Target Field on Thursday, according to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. Mauer had a bad day on Wednesday that resulted in him being sent home. There is still no timetable for his return ... X-rays on Jake Peavy's right wrist came back negative. He should be OK to make his next start ... Jered Weaver (forearm) threw a bullpen session without issue on Thursday. He should have no issue making his next start against the Astros on Monday ... Bud Norris (elbow) expects to miss just one start. He was scratched from Friday's scheduled start due to soreness in his right elbow ... Ivan Nova (triceps) expects to make his scheduled start on Saturday. Nova left his last start as a precaution, but the injury doesn't seem to be serious enough to warrant missing time.

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