Poor Mat Latos.  Right in the middle of a breakout season in his second year with the Padres, the baseball gods have dealt him a blow with a truly bizarre injury.

Latos landed on the DL Friday with a strained left side. He suffered the injury a week ago after a win over Colorado when he tried to hold in a sneeze while going down the dugout steps.

Welcome to the storied list of ridiculous baseball injuries.  You have plenty of company, Mr. Latos.

Latos’ snuffed sniffle has got to be up there with Mike Matheny and Clint Barmes cutting themselves with hunting knives or Joel Zumaya’s failure as a video game guitarist.

Of course, Sammy Sosa had similar problems with his schnoz when he went down with back spasms after an all-out achoo fit. 

Here is a list of some of the other more bizarre baseball injuries.

Of course, my fantasy team has been hit twice by the peculiar injury bug.  I wrote previously about Kendry Morales ’ fight with home base which cost him his leg and his season.

Lucky me, I also have Latos.

And folks wonder why people in baseball are so superstitious.  I mean do you remember Turk Wendell?  The eccentric reliever wore a necklace decorated with the sharp teeth of beasts he had hunted and killed, brushed his teeth between innings and regularly chewed black licorice while pitching.

Turk is certainly not the norm, but I’m sure every Major Leaguer has their fair share of superstitions. 

The superstitious nature is clearly more prevalent in baseball than in any other sport.  The anxiousness probably comes from the sheer length of the 162-game season.  When you’re playing damn near every day from March through October, something’s bound to happen. 

Still, landing on the DL because of a botched sneeze, you can’t make this kind of stuff up.

The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Padres’ 22-year-old hurler. 

Latos would be the front-runner for the Rookie of the Year if the NL wasn’t so stacked with young talent this season.  Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Stanton and Jamie Garcia have certainly raised the bar for young talent in the NL.

But Latos is having just as big of an impact as any of those guys and –more importantly – he has led his team to the lead in the NL West – really out of nowhere.  I think it’s safe to say no one – even most Padres fans – saw their resurgence coming this season.

The Pads success has definitely not been a product of their bats.  They rank 14th in BA (.250), OBP (.319), SLG (.372) and HR (67), 12th in runs (376) and 13th in RBI (357).

Guess that’s what happens when your GM throws out a lineup that features Adrian Gonzalez and next to nothing else.  David Eckstein, yes that David Eckstein, is the only other Pad regular to be sniffing .300 at .279. 

It’s also what has made the Padres’ run to the top of the NL West so incredible.

Their pitching ranks first in ERA (3.25), second in wins (51) and fourth in strikeouts (698).

A lot of that success is thanks to Latos.

The 6-foot-6 righty is 10-4 this season with a 2.45 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 99 strikeouts.  He’s tossed 12 quality starts out of his 17 this season.  He’s second in WHIP, tied for third in wins, and ranks seventh in ERA amongst NL pitchers.

Once again he could have been a candidate for the Cy Young Award if the NL didn’t have guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson and Tim Lincecum.  But such is life during the year of the pitcher.

So what do you think, can the Padres maintain their two-game lead over the Rockies in the NL West without their top young pitcher?

The Pads haven’t had to go outside of their starting five rotation much this season.  Only Tim Stauffer and Chris Young have made starts outside of the starting five of Clayton Richard, Jon Garland, Wade LeBlanc, Kevin Correia and Latos.

My guess is Latos’ injury shouldn’t be too bad of a blow considering he’s eligible to return on July 24. 

Actually, it might be a blessing in disguise that Latos gets some more rest for the stretch run.  He’s still got a young arm and the Pads need him to be a sharp as possible if they’re going to hold off the Rockies and Dodgers with little offensive support.

Still, it hurts as a fantasy owner and as a fan to see one of your favorite players lose time in a season to this kind of nonsense.

As far as fantasy replacement options, I dug Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona out of the trash heap.  He’s got 14 quality starts, eight wins, a 3.64 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.

The Mets’ Jonathan Niese, the Tribe’s Mitch Talbot or the Rockies’ Jason Hammel also could be good short term options.



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