The Red Sox had it last season. The ’08 Yankees were sick as a dog. Remember the 2007 Cardinals? They could barely get out of bed. These teams came down with the injury bug. Not just the usual bump and bruise, not just a tight hammy here or dead arm there, but the rampant spreading of what could only be described as collective bad luck.
As of Opening Day, nobody officially has the bug, but several teams will be missing key players to start the season. Here are some of the most important players starting the season on the DL:
RP Angel Guzman (Chicago Cubs) – Guzman underwent arthroscopic surgery in March to repair a “career threatening” injury to his right shoulder. In 2009, Guzman was the only consistent Cubs reliever sporting a 2.95 ERA in 55 games.
SP Ted Lilly (Chicago Cubs) - Lilly, likely the team's third starter, was put on the DL Sunday retroactive March 26. Lilly has made several minor league appearances and has looked good. Manager Lou Pinella said he felt "wonderful." Return is likely when he becomes eligible.
3B Freddy Sanchez (San Francisco Giants) – After signing a two-year, $12 million extension in the off-season, Sanchez will start the year on the 15-day DL. The infielder surprised the Giants when he had surgery in January to get rid of discomfort in his shoulder.
2B Ian Kinsler (Texas Rangers) - Kinsler sustained a high ankle sprain March 12 and will not be ready for the opening of the season. Kinsler, who was put on the DL retroactive March 26 will be available April 10.
1B Russell Branyan (Cleveland Indians) – After signing a one-year, $2 million contract in the off-season, Branyan will start the year on the DL due to a herniated disc in his back. Branyan hit 31 home runs last season for the Seattle Mariners. The primary first baseman is likely to start the year on rehab in triple-A Columbus.
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox) - The Sox announced Sunday that Matsuzaka will start April 10 for triple-A Pawtucket. The Boston pitcher has struggled with back and neck problems that put him behind in spring training.
SP Cliff Lee (Seattle Mariners) – The new Mariners starter said he “felt good” after throwing Sunday. He has been shut down since March 15 with a strained abdominal muscle. Lee suffered the injury after being run over by Dimondbacks’ catcher Chris Snyder. The timetable on Lee’s return is still unclear, but the team says he may be ahead of schedule.
SS Jose Reyes (New York Mets) – Reyes, who missed 126 games during the 2009 season, starts where he left off: on the DL. He missed most of spring training with thyroid issues. Reyes did take 10 minor league at bats and says “everything is good.” The Mets have not announced when Reyes will return.
CF Carlos Beltran (New York Mets) - Beltran was another player who surprised his team with off-season surgery. He is reported to be seeing action soon. As for now, Gary Matthews Jr. will start in center for the Mets.
RP J.P. Howell (Tampa Bay Rays) – The Rays have not yet revealed their timetable on their closer J.P. Howell. It appears they are taking precautions as he has struggled with soreness in his shoulder. Rotoworld suggested Howell may return in early May.
RP Kerry Wood (Cleveland Indians) – Saying Kerry Wood is on the DL is like saying Babe Ruth hit home runs. Wood strained a muscle in his back and will be on the DL retroactive March 26. Chris Perez will take over as closer while Wood is out.
SP - Gil Meche(Kansas City Royals) – The Royals starter was put on the DL retroactive March 26 with right shoulder bursitis. He’s already thrown several times and is tentatively scheduled to start the sixth game of the regular season for the Royals.
SP Scott Kazmir (Anaheim Angels) – The Angels placed Kazmir on the DL as a precaution. He threw 71 pitches against the Brewers in an exhibition game.
SP Jeff Francis (Colorado Rockies) – The left-hander missed 2009 with surgery to repair a torn labrum. Apparently it isn’t healed yet because Francis says “It’s hurting pretty bad.” He was scheduled to start the second game of the season, but will miss at least the first couple of weeks.
RP Houston Street (Colorado Rockies) - USA Today reported that the Rockies’ closer had a setback in his attempt to overcome right shoulder stiffness. He was shut down for the third time during the spring earlier this week. Left-hander Franklin Morales will take over as Rockies closer.
CL Brad Lidge (Philadelphia Phillies) – The Phlis’ closer struggled last season with injuries, seeing his numbers suffer as well. Lidge threw a bullpen session Sunday. The Phillies said Lidge had “No pain. No issues.” Lidge had surgery on the inner half of his elbow after the World Series last season. The closer will make rehab appearances in early April and will likely join the team later in the month.
1B Lance Berkman (Houston Astros) - Berkman, who has suffered from knee injuries and recovering from arthroscopic surgery, said he is unsure about whether he'll be able to return when he is eligible on April 10. His recovery period was originally estimated to between two and four weeks.
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Matthew Coller is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network, and is a freelance writer. He can be followed on Twitter
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