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Welcome Returns from the DL

Injuries are the quickest way to end the promise of a solid beginning to a season. One injury to a key player and a team could be looking at an extended slump. On the flip side, when those guys return to the lineup, it can provide the team with a boost that gets them right back into the mix. It's all about timing, and though we're only in June, a few guys returning to the lineup will be a welcome sight for the teams that have missed them.

Three MLB stars will likely return from the disabled list this week, and they'll all return to teams in significantly different circumstances. In light of that, I've ranked the three guys in the order of how important their return is to their respective clubs.

3. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

Before suffering a quad injury a few weeks ago, Holliday was one of the hottest hitters in the League. His injury has hurt the Cards, for sure, but with Albert Pujols and the "Fountain of Youth" that is Lance Berkman still plugging away in the middle of the lineup, losing Holliday was not nearly as detrimental as it could have been. Getting him back at this juncture should only help a Cardinals team that will be in a season-long fight with the Brewers and Reds to hold on to the division lead.

2. Ryan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals

Zimmerman is the heart and soul of the Nationals. Due to an abdominal injury that required surgery, Zimmerman has played in just eight games this season, which has been brutal for a team desperate to compete in the National League East. When he is healthy, Zimmerman is arguably the best third baseman in the National League and a true middle-of-the-order bat. Now that he's back in the lineup, we should get an extended look at how he and Jayson Werth will pair up offensively. The good news for Nats fans is that Zimmerman has been tearing the cover off the ball during his rehab starts, so it is clear that he is eager to return.

1. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

This has been a scary situation for Twinkies fans all season long. Mauer never seemed right early in the season and was eventually shut down with a mysterious ailment: bi-lateral weakness in his legs. By all accounts, Mauer is healthy again and is catching nine-inning games on back-to-back days; clearly, that is a huge part of his rehabilitation. If Zimmerman is the heart and soul of the Nationals, Mauer is the very lifeblood of the Twins. He is the hometown boy, the face of the franchise, and the Twins’ best and most reliable hitter. They have not fared well this season while dealing with a cavalcade of injuries, but Mauer is clearly the guy they need back most. The Twins are famous for their late-season runs that find them front and center for the division race, but without Mauer, there will be no such run in 2011.

Injuries are the quickest way to end the promise of a solid beginning to a season. One injury to a key player and a team could be looking at an extended slump. On the flip side, when those guys return to the lineup, it can provide the team with a boost that gets them right back into the mix. It's all about timing, and though we're only in June, a few guys returning to the lineup will be a welcome sight for the teams that have missed them.

Three MLB stars will likely return from the disabled list this week, and they'll all return to teams in significantly different circumstances. In light of that, I've ranked the three guys in the order of how important their return is to their respective clubs.

3. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

Before suffering a quad injury a few weeks ago, Holliday was one of the hottest hitters in the League. His injury has hurt the Cards, for sure, but with Albert Pujols and the "Fountain of Youth" that is Lance Berkman still plugging away in the middle of the lineup, losing Holliday was not nearly as detrimental as it could have been. Getting him back at this juncture should only help a Cardinals team that will be in a season-long fight with the Brewers and Reds to hold on to the division lead.

2. Ryan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals

Zimmerman is the heart and soul of the Nationals. Due to an abdominal injury that required surgery, Zimmerman has played in just eight games this season, which has been brutal for a team desperate to compete in the National League East. When he is healthy, Zimmerman is arguably the best third baseman in the National League and a true middle-of-the-order bat. Now that he's back in the lineup, we should get an extended look at how he and Jayson Werth will pair up offensively. The good news for Nats fans is that Zimmerman has been tearing the cover off the ball during his rehab starts, so it is clear that he is eager to return.

1. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

This has been a scary situation for Twinkies fans all season long. Mauer never seemed right early in the season and was eventually shut down with a mysterious ailment: bi-lateral weakness in his legs. By all accounts, Mauer is healthy again and is catching nine-inning games on back-to-back days; clearly, that is a huge part of his rehabilitation. If Zimmerman is the heart and soul of the Nationals, Mauer is the very lifeblood of the Twins. He is the hometown boy, the face of the franchise, and the Twins’ best and most reliable hitter. They have not fared well this season while dealing with a cavalcade of injuries, but Mauer is clearly the guy they need back most. The Twins are famous for their late-season runs that find them front and center for the division race, but without Mauer, there will be no such run in 2011.

Joe Mauer