Commentary

2012 preseason injury watch: Shortstop

Updated: February 15, 2012, 10:56 PM ET
By Stephania Bell | ESPN.com

As you prepare for your 2012 fantasy baseball season, injury stories from last season are undoubtedly a factor. A number of players either had their seasons end prematurely due to injury or limped into the offseason with health concerns. Now spring is around the corner, and you need to know how concerned you should be. Since the top predictor of injury in one year is injury the year before, it's hard to feel confident about anyone who lost significant time in 2011. That said, some athletes appear to be on the verge of bursting back on the scene this spring while others cast shadows of uncertainty all around them. Here's what we're hearing about some of the players with major injury concerns surrounding their names.

We'll be splitting up the injury reports by position to make it a little easier to find information about the players drawing the most attention.

Shortstop

Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks: Drew had a painful 2011. It started in spring training when he suffered an abdominal strain. Later in the season, he dealt with groin issues and never seemed to be consistently running at full power. Drew ultimately underwent a sports hernia repair in October, a procedure that might have come sooner had he not undergone major ankle surgery in July after suffering a nasty fracture sliding into home plate. On the Diamondbacks' official website, team physician Michael Lee offered this statement on July 22 following Drew's surgery: "Stephen Drew underwent orthopedic surgery in Phoenix this afternoon to repair a severe right ankle injury he suffered yesterday," Lee said. "Dr. Peter Mitchell performed internal plating to the fibula bone and repair of the ligaments torn as his cleats caught the ground, twisting the ankle awkwardly. All went as expected, and we are optimistic for a full recovery."

Drew says he hopes to be ready when the season starts but is not making any guarantees. Recovery from sports hernia surgery generally takes no more than two months, so that should not be an issue. Recovery from an ankle fracture is not always as predictable. Drew told the Arizona Republic in February that he's been doing some agility drills but not "in the baseball sense." He recognizes his ankle still has a ways to go to be in game shape but that baseball-specific work will increase during spring training. As a shortstop he will need to regain explosive lateral movement in both directions, the ability to turn hard on the ankle to make defensive plays and the quickness to react in the event of a potential collision. Offensively, Drew will need to get comfortable sliding again, a potentially challenging task given the gruesome nature of his injury. Drew's spring training progress will be worth monitoring.

Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds: Cozart's left elbow was hyperextended in late July during a collision on a defensive play, and what initially seemed to be a minor injury ended up leading to Tommy John surgery. Since the injury was to Cozart's non-throwing elbow, he was cleared to progress to fielding and throwing more quickly (in December, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer). Cozart is recovering from more than the elbow surgery as he also underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle in September. Neither injury is expected to limit him this spring, however, and Cozart should be ready for Opening Day.

Stephania Bell is a physical therapist who is a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. She is a clinician, author and teacher with extensive experience in the area of orthopedic manual therapy and sports medicine.