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April 3, 2003

Under The Knife

Watching the Defectives

by Will Carroll

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One of the downsides of writing this by a deadline and then having a gap to publication is that things can happen, new information can come out, or a source will pop in late.

  • With Derek Jeter yesterday, I speculated that the delay in the MRI of his injured shoulder was due to swelling in the joint space. In fact, the Yankees were merely trying to keep their star shortstop safe. With the global SARS outbreak affecting Ontario, the Yankees elected to delay the MRI until they returned to Tampa. While this makes me no more optimistic about Jeter's prognosis--in fact, I completely agree with Joe Sheehan's assessment of the situation--I applaud the Yankees for making a smart decision. UTK will of course have info on Jeter's MRI and prognosis tomorrow.

  • Tony La Russa seems to have found a page in his "Being a Genius for Dummies" book that he highlighted. The way La Russa is spotting in Jim Edmonds reminds me a lot of how he dealt with Mark McGwire, both in Oakland as Big Mac battled plantar fascitis, and in St. Louis as he dealt with a deteriorating patellar tendon. With backup catcher and outfielder Eli Marrero out with a deep bone bruise, spotting Edmonds is that much tougher, but that much more valuable. La Russa may be infuriating at times, but he understands better than any manager how to coddle an injured, but still valuable player. Too many managers don't understand that 80% of a great player is better than 100% of a mediocre replacement. Fewer understand injuries.

  • How quickly pipe dreams can die. The Cubs couldn't score 15 runs every game, but beating the Mets again seemed doable. As good as Kerry Wood looked on Opening Day, Matt Clement looked bad. Three wild pitches in an inning? At least Clement has an excuse--he was battling back spasms. At one point, it appeared that he had injured his knee during his violent follow-through, but (once again) TiVo came to the rescue and I was able to look back at his delivery. Clement was clearly not bending normally in his delivery from the warm-ups. Cubs sources say it's bothersome that Clement didn't tell them he was hurting earlier, but that it's probably not serious. Mark "Digital" Prior takes the hill tomorrow for the rubber game of the series. (Did anyone else notice Al Leiter's impression of Monica Seles? Is that normal for Leiter?)

  • It seems early for torn labrum season, but I guess it comes early sometimes, like Passover or Mardi Gras. The Reds have lost Luke Hudson for the season with a torn labrum. With early returns on Great American Bandbox, the Reds will need about as much pitching as they can find. The Angels already have lost Matt Wise and Joe Saunders to arm injuries, so we're on pace with 2002 for pitchers' attrition.

  • Corey Koskie was pulled from tonight's game to protect his injured lower back. He'd bashed a double off Jeremy Bonderman, but looked bad running the bases, so this was a smart move by Ron Gardenhire. Speaking of Bonderman, if he doesn't make a couple fat pitches, we're talking about him like a phenom today. Granted, that's like saying "if I just had an extra 20 mph on my heater and was left-handed, I could play for the Orioles."

  • I missed this last night due to the 16-inning marathon, but the Red Sox may be like the Cardinals right now. Both teams are essentially playing with one catcher on their roster. Doug Mirabelli got blasted at home on a tag play and really seemed to roll over on his ankle. According to my Red Sox sources, a decision will be made on the DL depending if Mirabelli will need to miss a couple games or more than a couple. Grady Little is willing to go a couple games without a safety net, but Jason Varitek isn't exactly injury-proof. I don't see an obvious emergency catcher on the Red Sox roster, but they have an intriguing minor-league veteran at Pawtucket, Chris Coste, who could be getting the call very soon.

  • Yes, several readers who wrote in to say that Octavio Dotel's symptoms matched that of a herniated cervical disc were correct. No, I don't have any information that this is the case. No, I won't commit to saying that Dotel's neck is a problem--yet.

  • Jose Contreras' ERA is 19.29. Or is that his birth year?

Back tomorrow with more of the Jeter Report and the rest of what I find while watching the defectives.

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