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April 2, 2003

Under The Knife

Calling All Readers

by Will Carroll

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It's amazing how quickly I can go from sitting on the couch watching game after game after game, cold beer never far from my lips, to full on working the phones. It's funny that there's now two phases to how I write--first, I make the outgoing calls to the usual suspects, but now I'm also getting a significant amount of incoming calls, pages, and emails. During my first call to my Yankees source--and note, many U.S.-issued cell phones don't work in Canada--I probably had three calls coming in. In the first few hours of a "big story" like Phil Nevin or Derek Jeter, I make more outgoing calls, but by morning the ratio completely reverses. It's an interesting experience. Thanks to all the readers who alerted me (I was watching, but thanks) and offered their takes. On to the injuries:

  • More and more people are weighing in on Derek Jeter's injury, the play, and the Zapruder-like replays of the injury. I kept the game on TiVo and watched it again myself. One of the more surprising things to me is that watching it again, I saw something different. Ken Huckaby's shin--not the point of his knee--lands on the back of Jeter's shoulder, forcing the humeral head out of the glenoid fossa. Jeter immediately grabs not at his collarbone as I initially thought, but raises his left arm up and grabs his wrist, then his shoulder. Several doctors I spoke to today said that contrary to most injuries, there is an instinct to grab the wrist of the affected arm after a shoulder dislocation. We'll have no concrete answers until the MRI is taken and read, but a delay from Tuesday to Thursday may indicate that there's swelling inside the joint, a definite negative sign.

  • The Yankees are reeling, so let's offer a bit of good news. Both Mariano Rivera and Steve Karsay are making progress in returning from injuries. Both are in Tampa and have been throwing on flat ground with no ill effects, and both are on schedule.

  • It's not really injury news, but two pitchers threw a lot more breaking balls yesterday than normal and both were ineffective. Randy Johnson and Josh Beckett both throw hard, but that's about where the comparison ends. Beckett threw 80 pitches, and 41 of them were breaking balls--all this over 2 2/3 innings. Beckett stated after the game to Jayson Stark that he should have shaken off more signs from Ivan Rodriguez. Rodriguez has a reputation as a "poor pitch-caller," but in light of studies on catcher ERA, it's tough to tell not only if the reputation is true, but if the reputation would matter if true. With a young staff, how Pudge and company come together as a battery will be interesting. Meanwhile, the Big Unit was also throwing a lot more breaking balls in his Opening Day start, mostly his "Mr. Snappy" slider. I don't have numbers like have an exact pitch breakdown handy, but Brian Jordan, for one, noted the copious breaking balls. Several Diamondbacks sources say Johnson did indeed throw a lot of breaking stuff, but that there's nothing more to it than a bit of Unit randomness.

  • Eli Marrero had a close encounter with Fernando Vina's knee in yesterday's game. In a sliding/diving play on a Texas Leaguer, Marrero took a knee to the side of his thigh, just below his hip. The injury looked much worse than it was, but can still be quite painful. I was impressed that Marrero was able to stay in the game, but Tony La Russa must have gotten quite the scare. I'm not sure who the emergency catcher is for the Cards right now, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them pull up someone like Yadier Molina just to be safe. While Brooks Kieschnick and Rick Ankiel hit and pitch, I'm surprised more players aren't learning to be at least passable catchers.

  • The Braves hope to have Paul Byrd comes back soon, but he'll make a quick stop in Myrtle Beach--rough life--to make at least two starts at Single-A. He's scheduled to make his first start Tuesday, a second on Saturday, then rejoin the Braves for a start late next week. All this is subject to his continued progress and Byrd suffering no setbacks.

  • Erubiel Durazo is healthy. Erubiel Durazo just murdered the ball. Somewhere, Billy Beane is happy and Joe Garagiola Jr. is looking up Elmer Dessens' PECOTA card.

  • While Octavio Dotel is still available, he is showing the effects of a back injury. Reported as "stiffness," sources say that he may have a strained muscle in his back, near the shoulder blade. It affects his pitching motion, and his velocity is off by a couple miles per hour. Dotel can give up some heat and still be effective, but it's something to keep an eye on.

  • I asked for assistance with the Velocity Project a couple days ago and got an overwhelming response. I got so many responses that it's easier for me to just broadcast it here than try to get all the email addresses into a format where I wouldn't give them all out. What I'm looking for is to get people to watch games. Simple--just add one thing to your scorebook. Whether you're in the stadium or watching on TV, just note the velocity of pitches. I'm asking people to do complete innings, but not necessarily EVERY inning. It's important to get the first inning and the last--and yes, you never know which one the last is, so try to track as much of the game as possible. Keep in mind, the world's not going to end if you miss something. When we're working from zero data, adding in some data is a great start, and enough to get an idea whether the V-Loss theory is something to pursue seriously. If you'd like--and there's no commitment...do games when you like and feel no pressure--submit your results in this format:
    
    CUBS vs. METS
    March 31, 2003
    Source: ESPN (other examples: WGN, stadium scoreboard)
    Pitcher: Kerry Wood
    
    1: 94f, 94f, 92f, 87b, 94f  (etc)
    2. 94f, 87b, 78b, 95f,  (etc)
    5. 92f, 77b, 92f, 93f,  (etc)
    
    

    "f" is fastball, "b" is breaking ball, "c" is changeup. Pretty simple, eh? Just submit your reports via email with a title like "VELOCITY: Cubs vs. Mets" as the subject.

Finally, I'm a reasonably happy guy: Lollapalooza's coming to Indy on July 4th. What could be better than Jurassic 5, Audioslave, and Jane's Addiction to go with some fireworks?

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