The fortnight-long absence of an elite-performing hitter hardly constitutes the death knell to the Texas Rangers' constantly fluctuating post-season odds, but the uphill climb to October baseball is about to become that much steeper.
Multiple local media sources, including D Magazine's Evan Grant, reported Thursday afternoon that All-Star third baseman Michael Young had been diagnosed with a left hamstring strain that was deemed slightly more severe than "Grade 1" (the lowest degree of severity), necessitating a two-to-three-week respite from the lineup as the Rangers quickly tap into their injury-related contingency plans at the hot corner.
After a mid-day MRI exam performed by team physician Dr. Keith Meister revealed that Young had fortunately not incurred a complete muscle tear, an injection of platelet-rich plasma was administered; according to a column authored by noted New York Times baseball writer Alan Schwarz back in mid-February, the treatment -- which essentially catalyzes the body's natural healing instinct and facilitates the healing process -- is increasingly gaining traction in the still-evolving world of sports medicine, but is apparently still ineffective in 20-40 percent of cases, with the success rate being contingent upon the exact nature of the injury.
Young will also pursue more conventional means of physical therapy, with the expectation being that he will quickly progress from simple stretching exercises to the weight room, where he'll further stress-test his injury on cardio-oriented workout machines ... and do so with much enthusiasm and gumption:
"On the way home last night, I was certain my season was over," Young said. "When [team orthopedist Dr. Keith Meister] looked at me and kind of smiled after reading the MRI, I treated it as very good news. I could get upset about missing some time or I could visualize the impact I could have on the last two weeks of the season. As down as I was about it last night, what I was told today was very uplifting. It's only going to give me more energy about being aggressive with my rehab."
Conflicting reports are already emanating from Arlington as far as how manager Ron Washington intends to survive without one of baseball's top-performing hitters; the Rangers' third-year skipper reportedly prefers to keep Chris Davis anchored at first base and refrain from flip-flopping him across the diamond for the sake of stability, and seemingly plans to roll with utility infielders Esteban German and Omar Vizquel at the position during Young's hiatus, but a major league source quoted by FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal stated that Davis would receive "increased playing time at third base" and suggested that the Rangers would explore the post-waiver period trade market -- both sketchy claims, at best.
Of the three trade possibilities proposed by Evan Grant (the Rockies' Garrett Atkins, the Orioles' Melvin Mora and the Mets' Fernando Tatis), none would signify anything more than a marginal upgrade over the current contingency plan (think maybe a two-run improvement over a two-week span, and even that's probably shooting high), which is really saying something when you consider that the true offensive talent levels of German and Vizquel are something far less than impressive.
Additionally, no trade acquisition would be playoff-eligible, and the oft-nagging nature of hamstring injuries isn't likely to preclude a relatively quick return to the diamond for Young, who has repeatedly demonstrated his above-average recuperative powers over the years; in other words, trading for a minor two-week upgrade is likely an exercise in pointlessness, rendered all the more difficult by the needless 40-man roster juggling that such a transaction would entail.