Spring training player updates for 03.18.11 (Utley, Sizemore, Roberts, Beltran, Liriano, others)

As we push through the latter parts of Spring Training, player news and updates will have more and more impact on our respect fantasy draft day plans.

With this week winding down, here are some interesting tidbits and what they may mean moving forward:

Chase Utley, PHI. The forecast for the one-stud fantasy second baseman continues to be extremely cloudy. His ailing knee is still causing issues, so much so that he made a comment last week that he wouldn’t “jeopardize” his career to rush himself back for opening day or any early season action.

Recently, Utley went to see some mystery doctor about the knee, with not much information available about the context or result. Then today, that visit was allegedly with a rehab specialist to get some “new exercises,” according to Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock.

Utley did take some batting practice Friday and made some throws from second base. While that is somewhat encouraging on a small scale, there are more unanswered questions than anything else, including rumors that the Phillies may have been looking quietly into veterans such as Michael Young.

Stay tuned and be cautious on draft day.

Aroldis Chapman, CIN. Not really surprising to most of us ninjas (especially those who checked out comments about Chapman in our recent mock draft post), but Chapman is looking like he could see the closer role after all this season and going forward.

Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty suggested Thursday that Chapman’s future may be as the closer. While the organization originally looked for Chapman to develop into an important cog within its rotation, he has the stuff to be a good closer in the league.

Brian Roberts, BAL. Back issues have been a concern for Roberts this spring and his value in many fantasy formats has fallen drastically.

On Friday, Roberts took live batting practice and is nearing a return to live Grapefruit League action.

How long Roberts can stay healthy will go a long way to determining how much of a draft day bargain he will be.

Carlos Beltran, NYM. Many are suggesting that Beltran will be a draft day bargain in many fantasy leagues based on his ability and the low draft stock.

But the oft-injured and aging outfielder needs to stay healthy long enough to produce some stats first. It isn’t a good sign that he’s already been fighting sore knees and received a cortisone shot Friday morning.

You may want to take a flier on him on draft day. However, I’ll take a younger upside project player in those late rounds over Beltran.

Wandy Rodriguez, HOU. Scratched earlier this week due to minor tendinitis, Rodriguez seems to have bounced back quickly.

He threw a pain-free side session Friday and is on track to start the Astros’ second game of the regular season.

Kendrys Morales, LAA. Manager Mike Scioscia mentioned previously that Morales, rehabbing from a broken leg, would have to start seeing spring game action by this coming weekend to have a realistic chance of making the opening day lineup.

Don’t expect that to happen. As of Friday, he still couldn’t run full speed in a straight line. Looks like a 15-day DL trip is on the horizon more than ever.

Francisco Liriano, MIN. After several mediocre, at best, showing this spring, Liriano put it all together Friday, striking out seven over five innings of one-hit ball against the Orioles.

Remember to watch for Liriano on draft day. He could be a nice bargain.

Grady Sizemore, CLE. Those who were hoping Grady would rebound quick enough for an opening day appearance are out of luck. Sizemore has been ruled out for the season opener.

However, he did slide on his surgically repaired knee Friday with no ill effects. Consider him a high risk, moderate reward option this season.

Check out previous player updates: 3-11 | 3-14 |

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