Utah Jazz notebook: Kyrylo Fesenko's injury woes take another bad turn

Published: Wednesday, April 6 2011 1:00 a.m. MDT

LOS ANGELES — A season that'd already been hampered by gastric distress, a sprained ankle, upper respiratory infection, back spasms, a migraine headache — not to mention weight gain and sporadic play — took another turn for the worst for injury- and illness-plagued Kyrylo Fesenko.

The brace he's wearing on his right hand isn't to help him hitchhike or to give his admirer, Kobe Bryant, a thumbs up.

Fesenko sprained his thumb during practice Monday. Though X-rays came back negative — revealing no structural damage — the sprain kept him out of Tuesday's win to the Lakers.

It was the 11th game Fesenko has missed this season for one health ailment or another. He'll joke about a lot of things, but Fesenko isn't using his health issues as comedy fodder.

"It is super frustrating," Fesenko said. "You can't do anything about it except for prepare yourself better. I think I need to do a better job in the offseason and the training camp to get myself just prepared for the season, so I can go without any injuries and illnesses."

Then again, Fesenko thought he'd done just that last summer.

The 24-year-old Ukrainian came into camp weighing about 280, having lost about 25 pounds to get out of the 300-pound club.

Fesenko felt great about the direction he was going entering a contract year, but, according to him, things went downhill for the free-agent-to-be in December.

Fes went down with a sprained left ankle, which kept him out of three games and about a week of activity.

Fesenko admitted at shootaround Tuesday morning that his offseason fitness gains "just all went away because I didn't practice for a week" due to his ailing ankle.

"It's all just flushed away," he added. "That was probably one of the toughest moments of the season for me."

Even with the injuries, Fesenko has already played a career-high amount of games this season with 53 (after playing in 49 last season). However, the 7-foot-1 big man has only shot 44 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from the free-throw line and is averaging just 2.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.3 blocks.

Not exactly eye-popping numbers to take into the free-agency market after four years in Utah.

Fesenko's first start of the season came against the lengthy Lakers last Friday, and he would've been a starter Tuesday, health-permitting.

"It's tough. It's difficult," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Because you look at a situation like (Wednesday). It would've been a great opportunity for him to play and start and get some minutes on the floor and he can't play, so it's frustrating."

Asked about it, Corbin said he tries not to question whether Fesenko — or other players — desire to play or find new reasons not to suit up.

"If you question whether a guy want to play or not, then that's a problem," Corbin said.

"Hopefully," Corbin added, "he understand the importance that we need him on the floor, the importance for his career to be ready to play at all times."

THE PASTY LOBSTER?: Gordon Hayward got some obvious color in his skin after spending time in the California sun on Venice Beach with Jeremy Evans after practice Monday.

They got caught up checking out some oceanside playground hoops, and Hayward ended up with a farmer's sunburn.

"We walked around a little too much," Hayward said, smiling.

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