Sarah's Take: Rash of injuries hitting NL West

Sarah's Take: Rash of injuries hitting NL West

No fan wants to see a division race decided by injuries. This season, however, in the National League West, injuries and how each team has dealt with them will probably determine who will win the race.

Every fan understands injuries are a part of the game, but everyone wants to see the best teams in the playoffs. Over the course of 162 games, every baseball player has bumps and bruises. In many games, players don't feel their best, but they still play.

In the past, teams didn't utilize the disabled list as much as they do now. When I became a baseball fan, not many players went on the DL unless they had major injuries. However, as salaries have increased, teams want to protect their investments and have used the disabled list more than ever, even though conditioning techniques and knowledge about nutrition have increased.

The injury problems surrounding the Dodgers have been widely publicized.

Although the Arizona Diamondbacks lead the division, they have had their share of injuries. Manager Kirk Gibson has vowed not to use injuries as an excuse for poor play, but undoubtedly, their lead could have been much wider if they didn't have to resort to alternative solutions.

To start the season, one of the D-backs' biggest offseason acquisitions, Cody Ross, couldn't play because of a strained calf muscle, and this slowed his offensive production since he missed most of Spring Training. In addition, Willie Bloomquist, another major offensive producer, had a strained oblique muscle that kept him out of the lineup, further weakening the D-backs' lineup.

Early in the season, the D-backs' talented second baseman, Aaron Hill, had his hand broken by a pitch. He hasn't come back yet, and the team is having difficulty scoring runs. Adam Eaton, who was slated to be Arizona's starting center fielder, has yet to play a game because of an irritated ligament in his elbow. The D-backs have the strongest bench in the NL West, but the torn oblique for Eric Chavez has weakened it.

The D-backs' starting rotation has overachieved, but it's been hit by a serious injury. Arizona thought Daniel Hudson would be its No. 2 starter, but he had Tommy John surgery and recently retore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, essentially eliminating any chance of a return this season.

When the D-backs went to the playoffs as the NL West champs in 2011, everyone expected to see them there practically every year because they're a good young team. However, last year, they had bullpen problems that undermined their efforts. This past offseason, general manager Kevin Towers revamped the bullpen, and so far, it has worked. Yet Arizona has suffered two major injuries to two key relievers.

Any team that loses its closer for an extended period is usually in trouble. In early May, the D-backs lost J.J. Putz with a sprained right elbow. Towers benefited from the Marlins' decision to deal many of their veterans last offseason by obtaining Heath Bell, a fabulous closer for the Padres before he went to Miami. This foresight has helped the D-backs survive the loss of Putz, who will probably return to the active roster after the All-Star break.

Losing a closer is difficult for any team; nevertheless, losing a superb left-handed reliever is sometimes tougher to overcome. Maybe the most overlooked trade in the NL West this past offseason was when the D-backs obtained Matt Reynolds from the Rockies. He was the D-backs' most reliable reliever before he suffered a slight tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. For the next six weeks, Reynolds won't throw a baseball in hopes that the ligament will heal. If the ligament doesn't respond to rehab, he'll undergo Tommy John surgery and will be out for the season and possibly 2014 as well.

While the D-backs have dealt with injuries and still could maintain a lead in the division, the Giants are being challenged by injuries. Unlike past seasons, the Giants have a struggling rotation. A pitch struck and broke the hand of Ryan Vogelsong, who was throwing his best game of the year. Although he's expected back in late July, he won't have a season the Giants expected from him because he has missed too much time.

A hamstring injury has taken Angel Pagan, the Giants' offensive catalyst, out of the lineup. Without him, the team has struggled to score.

However, the latest injuries to the Giants will weaken their offense even further. Pablo Sandoval, arguably their best hitter, went on the disabled list with a strained left foot. On Tuesday, a pitch hit Marco Scutaro's pinkie. Even though X-rays were negative, Scutaro couldn't straighten his pinkie, signaling ligament damage. The Giants don't know when Scutaro will be ready to play. Historically, since the Giants have played at AT&T Park, they have battled offensive problems, and now they're missing three good hitters.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.