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Returning and ready to help

Brian Roberts has three consecutive years of 100+ runs scored.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - You have been scanning the free agent list for days, maybe weeks, looking for lineup help, but you haven't been able to find anyone worthy of a waiver request. Well, help is on the way, but from another area - the disabled list.

There are a number of injured players, both hitters and pitchers, who are ready, or almost ready, to assist your team back into the championship title race.

Hitters -

Brian Roberts, Baltimore (68% owned) - Roberts is seven-to-10 days from making a long-awaited return from a back injury. He last played on April 9th. Roberts has always been a solid fantasy option who has three consecutive years of 100+ runs scored and four straight seasons of at least 30 stolen bases. Though neither of those numbers will be attained this season, he's an excellent option for those who have been struggling at second base since Chase Utley went down with the thumb injury.

Victor Martinez, Boston (96% owned) - Martinez played catch on Sunday and though no timetable has yet been stated, it's a clear sign that he is close to a return from the fractured thumb that put him on the disabled list at the end of June. Martinez had been hot, hitting .354 in June, with an OPS of .955.

Dustin Pedroia, Boston (97% owned) - Pedroia recently had a CT scan and will likely be in a boot for another week. An early August return seems likely. As a premier fantasy second baseman, he must immediately be placed in your lineup as soon as he returns.

Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland (42% owned) - Cabrera (fractured forearm) is set to start a three-game rehab assignment on Monday and could be back with the Indians by the weekend. For those of you who have forgotten, Cabrera had a very good 2009, batting .308 with 81 runs scored and 17 stolen bases. If you are struggling at the shortstop position, he could be an immediate solution.

Shin Soo-Choo, Cleveland (91% owned) - Choo will also begin a three-day rehab assignment at Akron on Monday. The Indians lineup could get much stronger very quickly with the addition of Cabrera and Choo. He should be back in your lineup by the weekend series.

Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado (96% owned) - Tulowitzki is likely still two-to- three weeks away from helping you. He's taken fielding practice and done some light batting, but the team wants to test his swing a bit more before sending him out on rehab. When healthy he's the second-best fantasy shortstop behind only Hanley Ramirez.

Chase Utley, Philadelphia (97% owned) - Utley is still about a month away from returning from what was expected to be an eight-week absence beginning with surgery on July 1st. Obviously he's got to go immediately into your lineup when he plays, but be advised that he was in the midst of a "power shortage" prior to the injury. He hit just one home run in 24 June contests.

Ryan Ludwick, St. Louis (68% owned) - It's been almost a month since Ludwick last played due to an injured calf. And it's likely another 10 more days until he gets back onto the field. Unfortunately for Ludwick owners, he may end up sharing time with his replacement John Jay who is batting .438 over the past three weeks. Manager Tony LaRussa is already tough to figure when it comes to shuffling lineups and this certainly won't help matters.

Pitchers -

Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati (47% owned) - Volquez made his first start of 2010 and it was a beauty, going six innings, yielding just three hits and striking out nine batters. He's only owned in about half of all leagues and if you are seeking pitching help you should look no further. In his last full season (2008), Volquez went 17-6 with an ERA of 3.21 and 206 K's.

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee (97% owned) - Gallardo is expected to come off the DL and start on Thursday. With an 8-4 record and an ERA of 2.58 you should make sure he is in your lineup against the 32-59 Pirates.

Mat Latos, San Diego (85% owned) - Latos threw in the bullpen on Sunday and should be ready to face the weak-hitting Pirates on Saturday, July 24th. Make sure you have him in your lineup on that day as you won't want to miss win No.11. He's 10-4 this season with an excellent ERA of 2.45 and an outstanding WHIP of 0.97.

Josh Beckett, Boston (88% owned) - Beckett is scheduled to throw an "extended" bullpen session on Tuesday, but given that he hasn't pitched since mid-May and how bad he was pitching, I'd have to wait before putting him in my lineup until I see a start or two. In his last rehab start, Beckett allowed three runs on four hits in four innings pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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