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July 28, 2010

Under The Knife

To Be Determined

by Will Carroll

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Stephen Strasburg (inflamed shoulder, ERD TBD)
As regular readers will notice, I usually take one night a week off. To you, it's days but I write this the night before, firming up the details the morning it's published based on how players respond the next day. Trainers love getting players in early to assess how the injury progressed overnight. I was thinking that yesterday would have been a good night but then... no. It started just as I got home for dinner. My phone dinged about 30 times in the space of a minute and no, that's no exaggeration. Stephen Strasburg had been pulled from his start. Early word was that he was pulled by GM Mike Rizzo as a precaution, something Rizzo would later confirm, showing just how closely Strasburg is being monitored. The word was that Strasburg had difficulty getting loose in the bullpen and would be sent for images to determine what was going on. While they're often called precautionary, no MRI really is. Teams are still cheap enough that they won't do them for just anything, even for Strasburg. Reports are that the results showed minor inflammation in the shoulder, but no real specifics. The concerns here are where the inflammation is and what caused it, a Watergate-ian construct that Washingtonians will appreciate. Expect the Nationals to be somewhere far north of cautious with this, with the "worst case" being a shutdown for the season. We should know more in a couple days, when Strasburg will be due for his throw day. Even that's a question at this stage.

Huston Street (abdominal contusion, ERD TBD)
I can barely write about Street without cringing. I avoided talking about Carl Crawford, just because it's very tough to type while doubled over, but with Street's injury, I can't just ignore it. Street was hit in what the LA Times respectfully called the "inner pelvic area" with a line drive off Ian Stewart's  bat. Street was playing catch in the outfield during batting practice and... well, things went horribly wrong. Reports from the scene say that Street repeatedly lost consciousness, with athletic trainer Keith Dugger saying that his body had gone into shock while waiting the 15 minutes before an ambulance arrived. (I'm a bit curious. Why are ambulances at all football games, but not baseball?) Street was released from the hospital early Tuesday evening and returned home. The Rockies are calling the injury an abdominal contusion, which could be a euphemism, but is likely accurate. Sorry, but I have no idea where to set an ERD on this, so I'm not even going to try.

Justin Upton (strained hip)
It wasn't a good day to be an Upton, which is unusual in baseball. Justin Upton left yesterday's game with what was initially described as a sore hip. Later reports clarified that it wasn't even to the level of strain. Upton simply felt the hip tightening up and left as a precaution. Upton is known as someone who's pretty self-aware, so this might have saved him from missing more time. The Diamondbacks are smart for not letting him risk much with nothing on the line this season. Upton will be watched closely over the next few days by the medical staff, but given the way this looks, it doesn't seem like he'll miss much time, if any.

B.J. Upton (sprained ankle, ERD 7/30)
It's seldom that an ankle sprain is considered a good thing. Maybe not good, but B.J. Upton's sprain is better than what it initially looked, which is an Achilles strain. Upton appeared to catch a cleat in the turf and was in significant pain as he was down. A few minutes later, he was able to hobble off the field. The team is calling it day-to-day, but given how it looked, tonight is likely to be a day off and maybe a couple more. Injuries like these used to be more common before more modern turf seams came into the game and, of course, there used to be a lot more turf. The Rays have plenty of ways they can shuffle their roster to cover for Upton's absence, short- or long-term. If he would need the DL—which doesn't look likely—Desmond Jennings is at the ready. At this point, it looks as if he'll be sore for a couple days and back by the weekend.

Dustin Pedroia (fractured foot, ERD 8/15)
Pedroia met with Lewis Yocum, the Angels team doctor, while in Anaheim for a checkup on his foot. The results weren't as good as Pedroia was hoping. Yocum reportedly told Pedroia to dial it back a notch, stay in his walking boot, and not play through pain. Pedroia said it "kind of scared him." If it keeps him from rushing back and re-injuring the healing navicular bone, then it's the good kind of scare. Pedroia will have a CT scan to give a closer look at how the bone is healing later this week. Just don't confuse this with a setback, as some already have. Yocum and the Red Sox are trying to keep Pedroia on a timeline that will get him back and keep him back, not one that while quicker would set him up for a catastrophic failure and the loss of even more time. 

Shane Victorino (strained oblique, ERD TBD)
With Jayson Werth on the trading block and Domonic Brown ready to play ball and kill spell-checkers, an injury to Victorino seems to throw off Ruben Amaro's best laid plans. Victorino left yesterday's game with a strained oblique, and if severe enough to DL him—a determination that will be made today—then things get interesting. Anything above the mildest oblique strain takes about a month to get out of the zone where any physical activity is begging for a recurrence, so it would seem that Victorino's availability will determine the course of the Phillies at the trade deadline. That's a bit shortsighted, really. If Werth is traded, it's essentially saying that the Phillies can't contend, and in that case, they could easily shift Ben Francisco over to center field. While indications are that Victorino's strain is mild, imaging will be the final judge.

Jason Bay (concussion, ERD TBD)
Somehow I missed that Bay had lost a collision with the wall over the weekend. Somehow, it seems like the Mets did too. Bay hit the bullpen fence on Friday, but didn't suffer any concussion symptoms—or at least didn't tell anyone—until he got on the plane home on Sunday. Planes and concussions don't mix well, so this wasn't a good way for the Mets to find out. The Mets have been very cautious with concussions since Ryan Church's ordeal two years ago. Bay will undergo tests and a determination will be made by tomorrow on whether he needs more time off or even a DL stint. Bay didn't show any problems playing during the Dodgers series, so I don't have any idea which way this one will go.

Jorge Posada (sore knees)
Catchers don't like to miss games. It's in their DNA, right next to the gene that makes them goofy enough to think that squatting behind the hitter is a good idea. For Posada, being scratched due to sore knees didn't make him happy, but Joe Girardi certainly understands the demands of the position and even Posada knows that Francisco Cervelli is better behind the plate at this stage in his career. Posada's bat still carries his glove, but resting him like this will keep that bat healthier. Expect Girardi to continue resting Posada as necessary, plus using the DH slot to keep Posada and the rest of his team fresh. Posada won't miss much more time, if any, due to this round of sore knees.

Gil Meche (strained shoulder, ERD 10/4)
David DeJesus (sprained thumb, ERD 10/4)
Bob Dutton has the scoop that Meche is headed toward shoulder surgery. Meche, as Dutton says, has done everything he can to avoid it, but now, it seems that the injury is just too much to heal up without a surgeon's intervention. Meche had lost a lot of velocity after the injury and in his last outing, simply wasn't close to being the pitcher he was. The thought is that there's something a surgeon can do, but it depends on what exactly is found when they open him up. Current research shows that as long as the damage isn't in the cuff, there's a likelihood he can return. We'll have to wait on the surgical report that now won't be far off. Many will point to the long, failed rehab as a commentary on the Royals, but let's be clear—this had a chance and that chance was worth taking. Given his contract, you'd think MORP wouldn't like his performance, but it's not as far off the price that Dayton Moore put on him back in late 2006, even with the injury. (Yes, I'm surprised at this and question it.) Put this one in the list of phrases: "Avoiding surgery is always worth the chance, even when it fails." The Royals also had a bit of controversy even after David DeJesus had his thumb surgery. Ned Yost was quoted saying they wanted to "push DeJesus" to come back this season. This is more something that's about getting a look at him and keeping him involved in the rehab process than any real hope that he'll return in a meaningful fashion.

Quick Cuts: Joe Mauer is hurt—or so says Jeff Passan. ... Dan Haren had x-rays on his forearm after being hit. It's "just" a bruise and he's expected to be ready for his next start. ... Andre Ethier was out of the Dodgers' lineup due to a stomach virus, but came out to pinch-hit. He's expected back quickly. ... Another KC trade chip injured? Kyle Farnsworth's hamstring doesn't seem serious, though players on the DL can be traded. ... Jose Lopez left yesterday's game with a tight hamstring. He'll be re-evaluated today, but expect him to miss at least a couple games with this. ... J.D. Drew was scratched yesterday with a mild hamstring strain. He'll be held out today to pair it with an off-day tomorrow, then re-evaluated. ... Jimmy Traina of SI points out that the Yankees have lost six games this year against pitchers making their MLB debut. That really says something about their advance scouting, doesn't it? ... Jason Marquis made his second rehab start, going three-plus innings in Triple-A. He'll be back in the Nats' rotation sometime in mid-August. The big concern is stamina, since the Nats need him to eat innings. ... I'll have more on this on Twitter, but you can join me for four games as I tour four midwest ballparks with Big League Tours. I'm also in the early stage of some get-togethers at those same parks. E-mail me for more info if interested.

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