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March 12, 2003

Under The Knife

Forcing the Issue

by Will Carroll

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I'm really having some problems with the story that 16 White Sox players were preparing to "fail" a random steroid test in order to make testing mandatory in Major League Baseball through 2005. First, the players being able to organize some form of protest makes me wonder about the "random" portion; and the idea of a small group of players going strongly against the negotiated position of their union bothers me even further. I'm on record as being against the current drug testing policy--but in this case, I'm unsure that the ends justify the means. In a number of phone calls today, I'm hearing hints that there's much, much more to the story than just the issue of steroids. I don't mean to tease, but in potential minefield stories, I want to make sure the facts are correct, double-checked, and that the story is well told. One of the main advantages of coming to BP was that when situations occur where something is out of my wheelhouse, we have someone in almost every area that can step up and do a great job.

Today's Injury News

  • Diamondbacks fans are starting to get twitchy like Red Sox fans. The slightest twinge or--dare I say that word--tweak regarding one of their Pair of Aces can send even the most even-keeled fan running into the desert screaming. Hearing "back spasm" and Curt Schilling in the same sentence sounds worrisome, but Schilling only had mild spasms in his upper back. It certainly didn't affect his pitching in the short term--he went four effective innings last Saturday and will be ready to take the ball in his next scheduled turn.

  • Speaking of twitchy Red Sox fans, Pedro Martinez threw 54 effective pitches, and better, reported only normal soreness after his start. He was playing catch today, and reports from the outing say that his delivery is "becoming more consistent" and his "release point is locked in--finally."

  • A bit of good news for Padres fans: Phil Nevin underwent surgery today to tighten his shoulder capsule and repair damage done when he dislocated his shoulder. All went as expected, and Nevin will begin rehabilitation immediately. His 2003 is still done, but successful surgery is a good first step.

  • I'll leave the TA stuff to Chris, but Mark Quinn's inability to stay healthy was among the reasons that Kansas City cut bait on him today. A team with an excellent medical staff and patience might find something in this guy. Tampa comes to mind. Montreal might be an even better fit.

  • Jeff Kent was beaned in the head on Tuesday, but had only a small headache to show for it. There's a lot to be said for helmets. No truth to reports that when asked where he was, Kent responded: "Washing my truck."

  • Lots of emails regarding Brandon Duckworth, but no new information. He returned to Philly to be examined by team doctors and undergo an MRI. I'm following it.

  • The Phillies got better news with Jimmy Rollins. Rollins pulled up dramatically while running--and I'm sure Larry Bowa's blood pressure spiked--but the hamstring seems fine. Let's hear it for self-awareness and strict regimens of stretching.

  • Sox pitcher Dan Wright will undergo more tests on his pitching elbow later this week, assuming the pain subsides enough to do so. The info coming from Sox insiders worries me--something minor wouldn't be painful and swollen several days after his last outing. The Sox have several options if Wright goes down, and they appear to be needing all of them.

  • A reader wrote in today taking me to task about the way I discuss the Brewers. I'll try to be more even-handed in the future, but I'm still going to call a spade a spade: The Brewers suck in almost every aspect of the game. Yes, I'm bitter that I have a game-used Brewers jersey I don't want to wear. Yes, I'm bitter that I have to go out to a great ballpark here in Indy and watch the dregs that make up the Milwaukee minor league system. Still, anyone who considers himself a Brewers fan and a UTK fan gets my respect.

    Good news for those proud few--Geoff Jenkins should be back into games later this week after missing time with a sprained wrist. Jenkins is also reporting no problems with his ankle, a definite positive.

  • Norm Charlton has more comebacks than Mike Tyson without the sideshow freak effect. Charlton came up sore and was sent back to Seattle for an MRI on his elbow. While the Mariners are being tight-lipped (and thank you to the two insiders who discussed HIPAA with me today), Charlton's elbow may be the result of his rapid return to action after rotator cuff repair. Is it just me or do the Mariners have more recurrent problems than any other team in baseball? This is one of those things that intern Will Quale and I will be working on.

  • Oh sure, now I find out. After grabbing Frank Catalanotto in a Scoresheet draft, I find out that his back is acting up again. My Blue Jays sources will hear from me on this! This is obviously troubling after the back problems shut down his season last year. Reports have Catalanotto returning later this week to games, but it will bear close watch over the next few weeks.

  • One can only assume that the Rockies know what they're getting into with Chris Richard. Acquired for a guy who--I'm told--can't play OF to save his life, Richard may be physically incapable of playing the position effectively due to injuries. According to the AP, Richard said: "I hope the Rockies realize that I'm less than 100 percent throwing from the outfield." I'm hoping Dan O'Dowd realized this. I have to believe he did. With Todd Helton hurting, I'm not sure I see the logic in this deal. But then again, Chris Kahrl handles this stuff better than I do.

  • Jim Mecir is moving ahead of schedule and could be available as early as the latter portions of April. Mecir will shore up an interesting Oakland bullpen and should return effective. With a couple of Rule 5 guys lurking, Mecir could get some rehab time in Sacramento or come back quickly.

  • As reported yesterday, Mark Wohlers wasn't going to waste time if surgery was necessary. He didn't. Wohlers had Jim Andrews' scope in his elbow looking for the cause of recent problems. Results weren't available by deadline. Andrews should have enough time to sterilize his scope and get a good night's rest before scoping Jose Rijo's elbow on Wednesday to remove three bone chips. Rijo's elbow is fast becoming the baseball equivalent of Mark Schlereth's knee.

It shouldn't surprise me that Sheldon Ocker not only isn't answering emails, but that his editors at the Akron Beacon-Journal are pretending not to know how to reach him. You have my number, Sheldon. I'll be back tomorrow.

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