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March 26, 2003

Under The Knife

By the Numbers

by Will Carroll

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This edition of UTK is brought to you by the number 33. I'm not a stathead, but some numbers are important. For me, there are just a few...15, 60, 162...and a few isolated others. Injury analysis to follow:

  • 7 - as in how many home runs he hit in the postseason. Initial injury reports looked like not much, but later reports on Troy Glaus sound a lot more negative. Glaus had X-rays, but the tests were inconclusive. He was then sent to a hand/wrist specialist, who found via MRI that Glaus has tendonitis. Sound familiar? I'd bet the Angels will be conservative and drop him on the DL for the first week of the season anyway.

  • 24 - because he looks like Kiefer Sutherland. I feel like I've been writing the Angels report lately. This shows us just how fickle Lady Luck can be--the Angels played well last year in large part due to great health. Regressing to the mean this year would put the Angels, well, perhaps at the tail end of a strong AL West. The worst of it seems to be Jarrod Washburn, the titular ace. After injuring his shoulder, he's been saying all the wrong things, refusing comment on John Lackey getting the Opening Day start and scaring all the Angels fans with quotes like this one from ESPN.com: "I'm actually planning on having discomfort in there for the whole season. Probably the pain in the joint would disappear in six-to-eight weeks if you didn't do anything, but I'm going to be pitching so I think I'm going to be irritating it every five days." Be afraid, be very afraid. All this news would be worse if the Angels didn't have Ned Bergert, Rick Smith, and Lew Yocum.

  • 5 - the number of rehab starts he'll make before rejoining the team. Aaron Sele is making good progress after surgery late last year, but the question becomes how does he fit back into the rotation once he's ready. The easy guess is taking the five slot away, but the better guess is slotting him in wherever there happens to be an injury. There's not only no such thing as a pitching prospect, there's also no such thing as too much pitching depth.

  • 26 - as in how many World Series rings they have. I'll give you the good news first, Yankees fans. Nick Johnson's making progress and after hitting today, was declared ready for Opening Day. There's absolutely nothing that makes me think this couldn't recur, and it's a definite chronic problem at this stage. The Yankees can easily plug someone into the 1B/DH slot if Johnson goes down for a short or long time. Better yet, they could try to trade him if he gets hot for any period of time. For a team trying to win now, Johnson's simply too risky, but for a team trying to rebuild, Johnson could be a great pickup.

  • 2 - as in how many Yankees relievers are on the List. Okay, Yanks fans, I said there'd be bad news. It's bad. Both Mariano Rivera and Steve Karsay will begin the season on the DL. Rivera is out with a groin strain, while Karsay's shoulder is not up to the strain of throwing, let alone pitching competitively. Some sources have Karsay missing as much as the entire month of April; if there's a muscle tear that would make sense. Note though that there have been no reports of tearing or tests that suggest this is the diagnosis. Let's hope this makes Joe Torre not brush off things like this with comments like: "He has a cranky shoulder." With Rivera, it's only a groin, and he should be ready when eligible to return. Still, this is the same leg and the same muscle that cost him time last year. My only question on this is what possessed Brian Cashman to call it an "adjunct muscle" in the NY Post. Someone, please whisper "adductor" in his ear for me.

  • 0 - number of teams with better medical staffs. Robb Nen may be behind where he and the Giants would like him to be, but he's certainly ahead of some other injured SUN pitchers (which, to remind you, stands for "show up in the ninth") in the game. Nen won't make back-to-back appearances, but the Giants have plenty of bullpen options, and having Nen healthy and available in the longer-term is much more important than having him at 100% in April. Every win is the same, but shortsightedness leads to short careers.

  • 1 - as in the best player in the AL. Buck Showalter feels a lot better about the Rangers today, I'd guess. Any team--no matter what Seattle was able to do without him--looks better with Alex Rodriguez on the field. I'm so not worried about A-Rod, despite the neck problem. Remember this: The Rangers will improve this year, and at least three-quarters of those wins will be directly attributable to improved health.

  • 4 - the number of actual physicians that wrote in suggesting things about Eli Marrero. The best response I got--and all were good--was from Matt Brignall, a reader/doctor from Seattle. He said: "My guess is that Marrero has atrophic gastritis secondary to radioactive iodine treatment. I've seen this in many types of cancer patients post-treatment." Here's a link with more info.

  • 1,000,000 - the combined number of rumors and theories about why A.J. Burnett hasn't broken out. Burnett is due to throw from a mound by this weekend, but he'll start the season on the DL as a precaution. Read that as "stalling his inevitable abuse at the hands of The Demon and his dad."

  • 3 - as in how many bone chips were removed. Scott Stewart is pitching without pain, according to some Montreal sources--or rather, sources watching Montreal--and he should be fine, if somewhat limited for the first month. Joey Eischen and company will help out when back-to-back save opportunities present themselves.

  • 5 - the minimum number of crows it takes to make a 'murder of crows.' Why crow? I'm eating some. I may give the guy a lot of grief, but the two biggest surgeries of Tim Kremchek's 2002 season look good. Credit where credit's due: With Sean Casey is ahead of schedule and hitting well. Meanwhile, Matt Lawton is also looking good after similar, but not identical surgery. Both are well ahead of expected timetables, both look to be extending well, throwing reasonably well, and hitting for more power. I'm a bit higher on Casey due to his lower-stress position and the Reds' roster flexibility, but the Indians have to be happy with Lawton's progress, even if it only means he's tradable.

2morrow - I'll make my promised second look at the Team Health Reports. I've been digging and there are actually very few places where I've changed my mind, and only one where it's an upgrade. I guess that's just my personality. I'm only happy when it rains. Or when I'm in Vegas.

35 - the number of emails I got suggesting names for pitchers that are coming back from labral tears. My favorites are LabRats, labradors, and labrensteins. Which do you like? Head over to Netshrine and vote.

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