The overall effect that injuries have on a baseball team is hard to measure because some injuries lead to addition by subtraction, some injuries lead to the door being opened for a young player to finally get an opportunity to get constant playing time, but often times injuries take their toll on a clubs ability to consistently compete. The club may not be able to find that comfort zone that comes from knowing who's pitching, who's catching, and who's hitting where in the lineup.
What impact did injuries have on the 2011 team? In the case of the 2011 Indians, it is much more than probable that the injuries played a big role on the teams in ability to gain traction over the final 115 games or so. Every time that the Tribe seemed to be getting a key player back from injury another injury struck the team.
The Indians visited Anaheim and won their eight straight game after a beautiful outing by Mitch Talbot. Talbot pitches 8 shutout innings on 5 hits while striking out 4 and walking two. The energy and hope created by Talbot's great start were quickly dashed when it was revealed that Talbot was to be placed on the disabled list on April 17th (returned May 25th). Jeanmar Gomez took his spot in the rotation.
The Indians received another setback when Carlos Carassco had to be pulled from his start against the Minnesota Twins on April 24th due to tightness in his elbow. Although a MRI revealed no structural damage Carassco felt tightness during a long toss session and was placed on the disabled list on April 28th (activated May 11th). The Indians called up 2009 first round draft pick Alex White to take Carassco's start in the rotation.
Carlos Carrasco was activated from the disabled list on May 11th, but that was also the day that Grady Sizemore jammed his knee on a slide to second base (and later we find that he also suffered a hernia) and on May 17th, Sizemore was placed on the disabled list (returned on May 27th).
The Tribe offense had already been stung by injuries to Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore and the starting staff wouldn't escape the injury bug either. During a start on May 21st, Alex White suffered a strained tendon on his pitching hand and was placed on the 15-day DL (later transferred to the 60-day DL).
Travis Hafner was activated from the disabled list on June 17th. During Hafner's first game back, Mattt Laporta was caught up in a rundown and ended up turning his ankle. The Indians put Laporta on the DL on June 18th (returned on July 6th).
The hits kept on coming for an Indians offense that was looking to establish an identity. On June 24th, Shin Soo-Choo was hit in the hand by a Jonathon Sanchez pitch. Choo required surgery for a broken right thumb and was placed on the DL on June 25th (returned on August 12th).
On July 2nd Fausto Carmona strained his quadricep while running out an infield hit and was placed on the disabled list on July 3rd (returned on July 18th).
The Indians were looking for a spark to their offense from 3b Lonnie Chisenhall. On July 7th, Chisenhall was hit in the eye by a pitch by Blue Jays starter Carlos Villanueva. Although not a DL stint, the fractured sinus cavity kept him out of action for a week.On July 13th Mitch Talbot was placed on the DL with a strained lower back. Acta on Talbot's injury:
"After his last outing, he felt a little soreness in his back, and he thought it was no big deal," Acta said. "But then on Sunday, when he was available out of the bullpen, he tried to throw back there and felt it. So we shut him down. Every game is very important. We'd rather be cautious."
Talbot was never recalled as he was DFA'd on July 31st and reported to Columbus.
On July 17th, Grady Sizemore suffered a right knee contusion while running the bases and landed on the disabled list. It was later revealed that Sizemore was playing with a hernia and he underwent surgery on July 20th.
The Indians offense had received a giant boost with the addition of second baseman Jason Kipnis. From the time of his callup on July 22nd to August 12th Kipnis posted a .279/.347/.603 (OPS = .950) with 6 home runs. Unfortunately for the Indians Kipnis suffered a mild oblique strain on August 9th and was able to play in 2 more games before shutting it down. After a few days of rest, Kipnis was inserted into the lineup to face the Chicago White Sox, unfortunately, Kipnis pulled his hamstring in pregame workouts and was placed on the disabled list on August 19th.
On August 18th the Indians placed Carlos Carrasco on the disabled list with a sore elbow effectively ending his 2011 season. Carrasco hurt the elbow after having one of his better starts of the year going 7 innings giving up 3R/3ER on 9 hits while striking out 5 and walking 3. To compound matters, Carrasco underwent Tommy John surgery on September 14th and is lost for the 2012 season.
On August 21st, Travis Hafner hurt a tendon in his foot while rounding first base on RBI single. Hafner was placed on the disabled list on August 22nd. Hafner
On August 26th the Indians placed Micheal Brantley on the DL with a strained wrist (retroactive to August 23rd). The injury turned out to be a broken hamate bone in his hand and Brantley had season ending surgery on August 31st and he was transferred to the 60-day DL.
On September 1st the Indians placed Shin Soo-Choo on the DL due to an oblique strain. The DL stint is retroactive to August 28th. Choo had been trying to pay through the pain but was removed from the August 27th game against the Royals after only 2 plate appearances. Choo attempted a final comeback on September 15th but removed himself from the game after 1 plate appearance.
On September 4th Jack Hannahan pulled a calf muscle and had to leave the game. Hannahan had been one of the hottest Indians hitting ..355/.420/.565 (OPS = .985) with 3 home runs from August 1st through September 3rd. In the 3rd inning, after his second hit of the game, Hannahan pulled up lame with what was diagnosed as a strained calf. Hannahan returned to the Indians lineup on September 20th.