Liriano, Matsui could go from injured to integral

Players throughout baseball are now coping with the cumulative physical impact of an eight-month grind. But the daily scratch-and-dent updates are exponentially more meaningful for clubs that actually have something at stake.

The Red Sox welcomed back David Ortiz, Jason Varitek and Trot Nixon this week, which gives them a lift in their effort to fend off Toronto and the Angels for the sixth-best record in the American League. In the Bronx, Jason Giambi just received a cortisone shot in his left wrist, and Mariano Rivera is dealing with a strained right forearm. Joe Torre's temples must throb at the mere mention of Rivera's injury.

In the meantime, several contending clubs check the disabled list and spend each day monitoring batting practice and bullpen sessions, arranging doctors' visits and hoping for good news. Here are eight contenders looking for a DL-related boost between now and the really big games in October: