Closing Time: A manic, medical Monday

Action on the field is more interesting than players hobbling off it, but we need to discuss the biggest news on the fantasy landscape here, and like it or not, we lost some big names Monday (Kinsler, Braun, Duchscherer, et al). Get out your insurance card and let's sort through the carnage.

The wheel play is in full effect with the Texas infield, bodies flying all over the place. Ian Kinsler, sadly, could be done for the year; he was diagnosed with a hernia Monday and went on the disabled list. "Hopefully, I don't have to get surgery, but I'll just go by what this doctor says," Kinsler explained Monday. "Hopefully, he says it's not as bad as we thought." Let the record show that Kinsler was the No. 2 rated player in the Y! game when this injury hit.

Ramon Vazquez will get most of the 2B work in Kinsler's absence, and Chris Davis figures to grab third when Hank Blalock returns this weekend as a first baseman. Joaquin Arias will also get some odd starts at second, Travis Metcalf is an option at third, and Frank Catalanotto could see occasional work at first. Got all that? Abbott and Costello will check back with you in a few days.

Justin Duchscherer's wonderful breakthrough year came in contrast to his extensive injury history, but the other cleat dropped Monday; he left his start in the third inning with a strained right hip. "I'm just trying to stay positive," Duchscherer told the team's official site. "They think I might just have irritation in the joint. Hopefully that's all it is." We'll see what we learn later in the week.

Ryan Braun re-injured his rib cage taking a swing in Monday's game, and the Brewers took him out an inning later. Ned Yost feels the injury is more tightness than anything else, but nonetheless the skipper is concerned. "I'll see how he feels (Tuesday), but this is something that I'm not really interested in playing around with," Yost told the team's official site. "I'm not going to sit and go through this every night."

I guess B.J. Upton wants to be the Joggin' George Hendrick of his generation. Upton was benched three times in the last two weeks for failing to hustle, but the lesson hasn't sunk in yet; he meandered his way around the bases during a fourth-inning gapper Monday, and wound up being gunned down by the alert Angels (say this for Mike Scioscia's club, it seems to do every little thing right). Kids today, eh? "That's a mental mistake he made right there. It's not a lack of effort," Joe Maddon said, pointing out that Upton misjudged the hit off the bat, thinking he had a home run. "It's one of those situations where he assumed. We've talked about assumptions. That's an assumption on his part. That's part of his game we've got to get rid of." Maddon let Upton finish the game, and the 23-year-old outfielder left the park without talking to the media.

Troy Percival has decided to pass on knee surgery, and he plans to return to action in early September no matter how his body feels. "In two weeks I got to deal with the pain and just go," Percival told the Bradenton Herald. In the meantime it looks like Dan Wheeler has taken over the closing gig; he recorded saves Sunday and Monday, while Grant Balfour has taken a step back. Balfour entered Monday's game in the sixth inning, in fact.

The Rays are guardedly optimistic that Tropical Storm Fay isn't going to wreck the three-game series with the Angels. As of now Tuesday's game is still on (keep in mind I'm typing this about 16 hours prior to first pitch), but I strongly encourage you to track the weather during the day as you set those daily lineups. If the game is scrubbed, it's possible but not definite that the teams could play two games Wednesday. Stay alert, streamers.

Paul Maholm didn't get a win Monday but he was otherwise excellent for the 11th time in 13 turns, holding the Mets to two runs over seven innings. He might be the most underrated mixed-league arm in the game right now. John Maine answered the bell on the other side, though he ran up 96 pitches over his five scoreless innings and couldn't hang around long. You can probably guess how it ended: the New York bullpen fritted away Maine's lead (Brian Stokes, Pedro Feliciano and Duaner Sanchez did the honors). John Grabow was a little wild in the ninth, but nonetheless worked a scoreless frame for his fourth save.

Casey Kotchman is supposed to be Mark Grace 2.0, but since joining the Braves he's hit like Princess Grace (10-for-67, .209 slugging). A mild flu bug didn't help matters last week, but more than anything it seems like Kotchman is pressing too much in his new city. He dropped to seventh in the order Monday and took another collar, with two strikeouts.

I wouldn't give CC Sabathia the NL Cy Young Award over Brandon Webb, but if Sabathia pitches the Brew Crew to the playoffs, I might pencil him in for second. Sabathia worked hard for the money Monday against Houston, chucking 130 pitches and allowing 13 baserunners in another complete-game win (3 R, 2 ER, 9 K). He's now 8-0 in nine starts for Milwaukee; the Cubs were the lone team he didn't beat. Sabathia gets Pittsburgh on the weekend.

The Dodgers and Padres have agreed in principle on a deal that will send Greg Maddux up the coast in exchange for two players to be named later, according to the LA Times. The play for Maddux was inspired in part by Brad Penny's latest shoulder injury. I don't see how this move radically affects Maddux's value; in theory he'll have a better shot at a win or two in LA, but the park is a little less forgiving. I suppose Maddux is worth considering as a streaming option when the matchup is right.

Injury Lap: Ray Durham sparked the Brewers with a tasty 5-1-3-3 line Monday, so there's no need to rush Rickie Weeks back from his jammed thumb . . . The Rays think Evan Longoria (wrist) might be ready to return around Sept. 1 . . . Brandon Moss (ankle) won't play for the next few days but should be able to stay off the DL . . . The Cardinals are hoping to get Chris Carpenter (shoulder) back in the rotation at some point next week, but I can't use him without a tryout first . . . Joe Crede (back) is ready to begin a rehab assignment . . . Hideki Matsui (knee) will be a DH only when the Yanks get him back this week . . . Cristian Guzman (thumb) remains out indefinitely, so Ronnie Belliard maintains value in very deep leagues . . . Julio Lugo (quad) is about a week away from a rehab trip, pointing towards an early September return . . . Milton Bradley (various) returned to action Monday and went 1-for-4 with a double.

Carlos Gomez sat for the second straight game Monday, though Ron Gardenhire did use him as a pinch-runner. Gomez hasn't been much use with a bat in his hands; he's carrying a sorry .286 OBP for the year, and he's currently on an 8-for-42 skid.

Speed Round: I didn't see Barry Zito's seven scoreless innings at Atlanta, so let's just pretend this didn't happen . . . Jon Lester keeps building more and more cred with every start; a seven-inning beauty at Baltimore (4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K) means a lot these days. Jeremy Guthrie was in constant trouble on the other side (never had command of his fastball), but somehow escaped allowing just two solo homers over seven innings . . . Jason Bay doesn't have a flashy nickname or long hair, but he's becoming a beloved player in The Hub. He whacked two homers and stole a base Monday, hiking his AL average up to .348 . . . I have little faith that it will continue, but Willy Aybar has stepped in nicely for Longoria the last couple of weeks (16-for-53, three homers, .566 slugging) . . . The set-up men were a mess for Detroit and Texas Monday, but somehow Fernando Rodney was letter-perfect in the ninth (1-2-3, with two strikeouts) . . . Jonathan Papelbon got the last four outs in Baltimore and hasn't allowed an earned run in five weeks . . . Denard Span seems to do something impressive every night. Two more hits and a run Monday, and he's got an .821 OPS in the leadoff spot . . . Mark Ellis has been hacking and hurting for much of the 2008 season, but don't overlook the fact that he's also got 12 homers and 14 steals . . . Fill in your own Ty Wigginton term of endearment tonight, I've got nothing fresh to offer. Here's your daily clip.

We'll close up tonight's shop with a look at our favorite blogger/closer/submariner. Brad Ziegler allowed a run and another extra base hit in Minnesota, imagine that, but his two-inning, one-run stint was still good enough for his third save of the year. The ERA ticks up to 0.41. Huston Street faced three batters in front of Ziegler, retiring just one of them. Wiggy and Ziggy, repeat until rich.

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