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Fantasy Camp Notes: Early injuries and lineup changes

You couldn't blame Mets fans if they were fretting about things seeming too good to be true. As it turned out, it was. First, Johan Santana gets a rude welcome from the ancient Juan Gonzalez, and now the Associated Press reports that Carlos Delgado is feeling discomfort in his hip and that Ryan Church suffered a concussion in a collision with teammate Marlon Anderson. Delgado will be 36 in June, so the words "hip condition" aren't the most encouraging words we've ever read. As for Church's concussion, that's the sort of injury that can leave you guessing at a timetable for recovery. You might want to downgrade both players in your rankings until we hear some good news regarding their condition.

• There's a lot of buzz about Dustin McGowan in fantasy baseball circles thanks to his terrific second-half numbers (3.67 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 87 K's in 98 innings), and the early signs are there that he will carry that momentum into the season. The knock on McGowan has never been his arm, even post-Tommy John surgery, but his mental makeup. The Jays showed confidence in him last season, telling him he would start every fifth day, no matter the previous result, and the results were outstanding. In his spring training debut Saturday, Toronto Sun baseball columnist Ken Fidlin reports that "unlike other springs, McGowan was relaxed, even with runners on base, a product of his confidence level and his newfound ability to get himself out of tough spots."

• The Twins tried out some of their new players at the top of the lineup Saturday: Carlos Gomez led off, followed by Joe Mauer, Delmon Young and Justin Morneau. According to the Twins' official Web site, Mauer and Morneau are pretty much guaranteed to be in those spots Opening Day, while whomever wins the center-field competition (Gomez must hold off the more-seasoned Jason Pridie and eternal "prospect" Denard Span) will bat leadoff. Young's competition for the three-hole comes from Michael Cuddyer, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see manager Ron Gardenhire decide to bat the veteran Cuddyer fifth to protect Morneau.

• As reported in Friday's spring training blog, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is talking about batting Nick Swisher leadoff. This is, of course, purely an on-base percentage move, as Swisher isn't known for being fleet of foot. However, Jerry Owens, who has been recovering from a sore groin, was in the leadoff spot Saturday, going 1-for-2 with a run scored. Swisher batted third, in front of Paul Konerko, an arrangement which is much more comfortable to prospective Swisher owners.

• In that same game, D-backs prospect Max Scherzer made his debut against big-league hitters. Although he allowed a home run to Joe Crede, the outing was notable by the fact that Scherzer hit 96 mph on the radar gun, according to the East Valley Tribune. Scherzer is a long shot to break camp with the big club, but if he does make the bullpen, it's worth noting that he has closer stuff and could get in the mix alongside Tony Pena and Chad Qualls should Brandon Lyon stumble. And if not in 2008, keeper leaguers, it could still be worth your while to watch him for '09 and beyond.

• If Barry Bonds decides to play baseball this season, and more importantly, if any team decides to step into the three-ring circus that is sure to be "The Bonds Experience" in 2008, then Major League Baseball won't throw up any roadblocks. That was the gist of comments made by MLB commissioner Bud Selig to reporters on Saturday. Bonds is currently being drafted an average of 229.1 in ESPN.com standard leagues, and this news shouldn't do anything to improve that number. But if Bonds is given the opportunity to wield a bat, even if it turns out to be for only half a season, he's worth much more than a 23rd-round pick.

• Nationals starter Shawn Hill has a sore elbow, but is still slated to start next Wednesday. Hill had surgery on his elbow and shoulder during the offseason and also had Tommy John surgery back in 2005, so any pain he has raises a red flag. The team had Hill undergo a precautionary MRI, which showed no damage or swelling, so they are treating the pain as a symptom of overuse, according to the Associated Press. Hill should take the mound Wednesday, so we'll want to follow up to see how he feels afterward. Hill's strong showing in 97.1 innings last season (3.42 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 65 strikeouts) makes him a nice bottom-of-the-rotation sleeper in NL-only leagues.

Shelley Duncan is generating some buzz in New York. His home run and double on Saturday served notice that Jason Giambi has some competition at first base and DH. If he gets even half a season's worth of at-bats, Duncan is worth drafting for his raw power alone; he had seven homers in 74 at-bats for the big club in 2007 and 25 homers in 336 at-bats at Triple-A Scranton. Beware, however, that Duncan had never hit better than .257 at any level in his professional career until he posted a .295 average at Triple-A, which was due in large part to a .323 batting average on balls in play, easily a career high. He'll need to continue that trend in order to make a fantasy impact in 2008.


Pete Becker is a senior editor for ESPN.com Fantasy.