As playoff races get tight, key players like Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira go down with injuries

Among all the professional sports, baseball has the longest regular season: 162 games, a marathon of a season.  To stay healthy through the season is incredibly hard on the body for any player.  For most clubs the saying goes, “It’s not how you start, but you finish,” because the last third of the baseball season is the most important.  Injuries are a part of the game and getting them in the middle of playoff hunt can be crucial to a team making the playoffs and continuing.  The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels hope to get their everyday players and pitchers back before it’s to late.

The Yankees have had some unfortunate luck with injuries in 2012, but they have always found a way to stay a top of their division.  In the beginning of the year, they took the biggest blow when they lost closer Mariano Rivera.  Other members have gone down and bounced back. Now, Mark Teixeira is out for 10 days to 2 weeks after aggravating his calf in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.  Teixeira was hustling so hard down the first base line, trying to beat out a game ending double play, that he re-aggravated his left calf in his first start since Aug. 27.

“That’s when he really felt it,” Girardi said. “He busted his rear end to get down there. It’s unfortunate.”

Sources say Teixiera was examined by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad on Monday, where irritation of his strained left calf showed up on an MRI.  Teixeira is hitting .255 with 23 HR and 81 RBI on the season.

The new look Dodgers have also been struggling with injuries, losing Chad Billingsley for the season and a nagging hamstring that kept center fielder Matt Kemp in the dugout for 51 games.  Kemp was scratched from the lineup on Sunday along with ace, Clayton Kershaw, as the Dodgers fell to the NL West leading San Francisco Giants 4-0.  Kemp missed the game due to a sore shoulder while Kershaw was scratched with an inflamed right hip joint.  A good sign for the Dodgers was that Kershaw could have pitched Sunday, but manager Don Mattingly and the trainers decided against it.  If both were to remain as spectators for the rest of the season, the Dodgers’ chances for the post season will be hard matched.

Angels ace Jered Weaver and Rays ace David Price both missed starts this weekend due to shoulder issues.  Both teams are 77-63 and are battling for the second wild card spot. Each game means something and for these two to miss their starts does not help.  Weaver had a 49 pitch bull-pen session on Monday and seems to be ready for his start in the finale against the Oakland A’s who own the first wild card spot for now.  As for Price, the Rays feel confident that the soreness is just temporary and wanted to shut him down to prevent any further damage.

We feel confident that it’s not a major situation,” Tampa Bay executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “It’s something that we wanted to get in front of and make sure that it wouldn’t become one.”

The injury list never seems to be empty, especially when your team is in the hunt.  Even if there is no injury it is easy to say that some teams, okay the Washington Nationals, won’t hesitate to shut down a player for the future.  Sometimes when a key player is shut down or placed on the DL, the team rises and can give an opportunity to another.  Injuries can bedevil and for each of these franchises they hope they don’t skip a beat when it comes to extending the season.