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March 6, 2003

Under The Knife

Slides and Risks

by Will Carroll

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It's been a long, interesting day filled with things that were amazing--like my interview with Tommy John for BPR--and things that were less than amazing. In the end, this space is about injuries, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that everything heals in time.

  • Thanks to the many of you that caught my error regarding the injury to Fernando Vina. My notes said, "Vina injured, hit head after slide." A few days later, I read that as Vina being the one who slid rather than him being taken out by a slider. In fact, Vina was taken out, landed awkwardly on his head, and suffered the concussion. My error did bring up an interesting question from BP's Jeff Bower, who asked if headfirst slides really do cause more injuries. While I can't go to the non-existent database to check, anecdotally there's evidence on both sides. I can remember injuries like broken fingers, injured shoulders, and concussions from headfirst slides. I can remember injuries like sprained or broken ankles and taking a throw to the face with feet first slides. I'd guess headfirst is a bit more likely to cause an injury, but that's just a WAG (wild ass guess).

  • Further notes on my dropping a red light on Roy Oswalt: Tom Verducci at SI has written a very interesting piece which includes Oswalt in the "high risk" group, based on what Verducci calls the Year After Effect and what most of us call workload increase. I'm often critical of SI, but this is a very well done piece. I agree with all but Jake Peavy as "high risk," all of the "medium risk" excepting Danys Baez (due to his role change), and none of the "future risk," which doesn't seem as well thought out. I will agree that limiting the total innings and closely monitoring the "future risks" is clearly a good idea. I still have no idea how Verducci managed to leave Derek Lowe off any list given his logic. It makes me wonder how many others could have been covered.

  • Several of you commented on my Josh Hamilton comments. Friend of UTK Gus Papadopoulos (who covers the Devil Rays for Rotowire.com) got me thinking and while yes, the Hamilton pick was very defensible, and it's as much an indictment of every other team that many good players were picked late as it is of the Rays, it was merely put forth as interesting. I started digging through more drafts and one name popped out at me--Phil Nevin. Nevin was a #1 pick that took seven long years to put up a "star" season, and by then he'd been all but an afterthought in three trades and on four rosters. I'm not saying that Hamilton will suddenly emerge in 2006 and Nevin isn't a comparable on Hamilton's PECOTA card, but perhaps a change of scenery might help. Actually, calling it a change of minor-league systems and developmental philosophies might be more accurate.

  • Panic, Yanks, panic! No, not really. A mild strain of Jason Giambi's abs of steel this early in camp is as near a non-factor as anything I've heard. He'll miss a couple days, be back, and never miss the time. The Yanks also get some good news with the return of Nick Johnson. No diagnosis has been made publicly, so I can still argue that it might be DeQuervain's syndrome. Ha. Johnson was able to take live BP Wednesday and should make his game debut later this week. The only note of interest was that Johnson will wear a small pad to protect the wrist. Does this indicate anything? No, not really. I'm guessing this is more of a IDKCYA (I don't know--cover your ass) move than anything else.

  • Eric Milton had successful arthroscopic surgery Wednesday performed by Thomas Rosenberg. There's no change in the expectation that he will miss six to eight weeks, but at least we can start the clock.

  • Friend of UTK Rachael Reid will be hurt, but it could be the end of the road for her favorite player, Kevin Orie. Orie is on the fence for even a bench slot with the Cubs, and the necessary surgery and rehab for a torn labrum could close the window on his career. The window was open just a crack, so the slightest misstep was going to be costly. The Cubs are now a bit more reliant on Mark Bellhorn being able to handle third base.

  • Dusty Baker is making nice with the media talk about playing young kids. He's suggesting that 24- and 25-year-olds might be better served in Triple-A, but he's also playing Hee Choi and Bobby Hill. Hill is getting more time in the field since Mark Grudzielanek can't stay healthy. For the second time this spring, Grudz sprained his ankle. It's a different spot this time on the same ankle. There's no timetable for his return, but guessing a week shouldn't be far off. Failing an amputation, Grudz will make the club. The question is, how many ABs will he cost Hill?

  • Brad Penny--bad shoulder or not--was cranking it up to 92 MPH according to sources at the Scalies game. (Yeah, I'm adopting Jim Baker's name for the Marlins. It's fun. Try it at home.) It was a promising outing, but so limited in scope as to not be particularly meaningful. If Penny can make it through the spring without any problem while not losing velocity, I'll reconsider my position on him.

  • In the "please tell the trainer" department, we have two new cases. Paul LoDuca admitted that he played most of the second half of last year with a torn ligament in his groin. Guys, once you stop cringing, you'll agree that this would certainly affect his performance. He's been given a clean bill and seems to be rejuvenated early. Indian Greg LaRocca was horrible last year, but, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, it was discovered in the off-season that he had a stress fracture in his hip. This is very similar to the injury suffered by Ryan Ludwick. If nothing else, it gives us some interesting comparables. Either player, if healthy, could regain some form; LoDuca will obviously have more impact on his team.

  • The World Anti-Doping Agency stepped up with a serious drug policy, challenging all U.S. pro leagues to adopt their creed. I'm not sure how they justify having "all athletes responsible for any banned substance in their body" and "athletes can have suspensions reduced or waived if athletes prove they were not at fault for positive findings." Still, it's a strong stance and it will be interesting to see which, if any, leagues step up. The NBA and NHL should be most affected since their athletes play in the Olympics. I'm not sure if this policy is the answer for baseball, but having some sort of strong, coherent anti-doping policy would be a great step.

  • May G-d protect our boys, right or wrong.

Thanks to all for the over 200 emails. You know--that just means less sleep, more coffee, and carpal tunnel surgery, but I'm willing to make that sacrifice for BP readers.

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