The Associated Press reports the New York Yankees placed outfielder Johnny Damon (shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained and bruised left shoulder. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Damon is "50-50" to return in two weeks, but the injury should not require surgery. This is Damon's first trip to the DL in his 13-year career.
Damon injured his shoulder when he crashed into the outfield wall while attempting to make a catch Friday, July 4, against the Boston Red Sox. The 34-year-old was also battling a sore arch in his left foot and missed several games in late June.
Damon hit .363 in June, with 10 RBIs and five stolen bases. His numbers have been climbing - especially his average - since his .276-3-12 line in April. For the season, he sports a .319 average, six home runs, 37 RBIs, 50 runs and 13 stolen bases - solid contributions in four of five major categories.
Yankees designated hitter Hideki Matsui (knee) is already on the DL, so look for the Yankees to go with speedy outfielder Brett Gardner as their regular left fielder. Gardner, 24, made his major league debut Monday, June 30, and has since racked up 16 at-bats. However, he has just one hit in those at-bats, giving him an .063 average.
For the fantasy outlook, Damon owners should stash him on the DL in all formats. He is sixth in the American League in batting average; his spot in a solid offense, as well as his ability to contribute strongly in three categories - average, runs and stolen bases - makes him too valuable to discard.
Gardner's fantasy value comes from his speed. He already has two stolen bases in the majors and managed 34 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 80 games before his call-up. He is exclusively an option in AL-only formats at the moment; however, you can add him to your watch list in deep mixed leagues if you need stolen bases. The left-handed hitter will need to hit to remain relevant, though; he has a career minor league average of .289 and was hitting .287 at Triple-A, but he's one of the organization's better prospects.
Christian, 28, is another possible option in AL-only leagues. He has a career-high .306 average in 206 at-bats with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year. He is a stolen base threat (20 in the minors this year) and has driven in 41 runs as well. He collected three hits in 15 at-bats during a big-league cup of coffee in June. A right-handed bat, Christian could work his way into a platoon situation if Gardner struggles to adapt to the bigs.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
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