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April 4, 2003

Under The Knife

The Quest for Knowledge, Continued

by Will Carroll

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Welcome to the Derek Jeter Report...I mean, Under The Knife. I want to start today by thanking everyone for stepping up and helping with the Velocity Project. Heck, one great reader, Josh Plotkin, even sent in some great pictures! We've already had several reports come in--including one on Mark Prior today that made me giggle--and several more people have weighed in on potential problems. Yes, there's a lot of error in the sourcing, but it we get enough of a sample, we should be able to come up with something workable. If the data from this phase works, I'll find a way to get people at games with radar guns. Since today's UTK is almost all about pitchers breaking down, even a small step toward figuring things out--or even figuring out that velocity doesn't work--gets us closer to true knowledge.

  • Jeter had his MRI today in Tampa, and it was announced that he would get a second opinion, likely from Jim Andrews, no matter the result. I have conflicting reports on what was found in the MRI. Add in that MRIs are notorious for problems with "seeing" labrum tears and I'm not going to speculate more than I have. By Monday's UTK, we should know a lot more about Jeter's long term outlook. One interesting suggestion I heard is that Jeter could move to second, swapping with Alfonso Soriano. Interesting, but illogical. It's not Jeter's throwing shoulder that's injured, and playing second wouldn't keep Jeter any safer.

    It's counterintuitive, but the results are in and for once, I didn't have to dig up my own data. In a study of sliding injuries, sliding headfirst was actually found to be the safer way to go. Correct or not, I'm still not teaching Little Leaguers to slide head first.

  • You get the good and the bad with young pitchers, and the Phillies are seeing this first hand. Vicente Padilla continues to look nothing like the pitcher he was in the first half of last year (and a big part of the return on Curt Schilling). The Phils and Padilla continue to insist he's healthy, but anyone who watches him pitch can see that's unlikely. I'm hoping to get a V-Project report on his start. More positively, Brandon Duckworth is getting closer to a return. He'll make a rehab start in Single-A on Sunday and could be back with the Phillies by next week.

  • It's good news/bad news for the Braves as well, keeping everything equal in the NL East. Mike Hampton had what was described to me as a "major" setback, reinjuring his calf. The team is now expecting him to miss a significant amount of time, between two and eight weeks. With Hampton doing so well, the top end of that estimate is really surprising, and I'll stay slightly optimistic on him. Paul Byrd will have one more rehab start in Single-A and, if he avoids any setbacks, will start for the Braves next week, likely April 10th. I've been re-reading Leo Mazzone's "Pitch Like A Pro" and there's some interesting stuff in there about Byrd's first stint as a Brave.

  • The Reds are going to need all the pitching they can find if Great American Bandbox keeps playing like it has (or are my surprise team, the Pirates, really that surprising?) The Reds should get Paul Wilson back this weekend, which should help some. Here's a prediction: Sammy Sosa will hit #500 in the GAB. (Whoa, Will. Come back down off that limb!)

  • Continuing the theme of comebacks, A.J. Burnett will make one more start in extended spring training, then return to the Marlins and a certain doom. No, it's not that bad. Burnett is on schedule to be back mid-next week for the Scalies and has had no problem in his rehab, regaining his velocity quickly.

  • The Rangers are a bit thin in the outfield suddenly. Kevin Mench is making slow progress with his strained oblique and could be as much as two weeks away. There's some speculation that he'll need some time to rehab. The new park in Frisco is the most likely destination. With Carl Everett dealing with a strained quad, they may need to call up someone, be it one of their insurance policies in Triple-A, or someone like Laynce Nix.

  • Former ROY Marty Cordova has a disc problem in his back and it sounds very serious. Cordova has some parasthesias--a lack of feeling in some portion of his legs--that's lead to weakness and atrophy. Cordova looks to be headed to the DL and could face surgery. The last thing Baltimore needs is injury, but this team is going to be monumentally, Cleveland Spiders bad.

  • Thanks to all that answered my question on the Sox emergency catcher. It's Kevin Millar, though Shea Hillenbrand did some catching in the minor leagues. There's actually been a fair numer of emergency catchers used in the past few years. Such illustrious names as Mike Kinkade, Jolbert Cabrera, and Mike Mordecai have donned the tools.

  • The shotgun approach is so necessary in the minor leagues because we still just have no clue what pitchers will flame out or come up lame. Last week, Joe Saunders--someone often described as "fluid" or "smooth"--ended up with a torn cuff and labrum. Now, Cubs' top pick Luke Hagerty, someone I've seen pitch several times, is headed to Tommy John surgery. Even drafting good college pitchers with no significant injury history is no guarantee.

The Royals and the Expos are both 3-0. Someone please peel Rany and Jonah off the ceiling...and get Rany writing again soon! (Yes, I'll be telling him this at the Cincy Pizza Feed.)

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