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April 30, 2003

Under The Knife

All A.J. Burnett, All the Time

by Will Carroll

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If you think tonight's UTK is shorter than normal, blame it on me. I've spent half the day researching A.J. Burnett's injury, answering email regarding Burnett's surgery, and writing what is becoming a really long article on Tim Kremchek. The result: My carpal tunnel is acting up more than normal, and I'll need to try to stop by my chiropractor (yeah, a chiropractor for carpal tunnel...I never would have believed it either) some time this week. For now, please bear with me in this less verbose edition.

  • The worst-case scenario came true. As Jim Andrews peered into A.J. Burnett's elbow, he saw a completely torn--by some accounts, "shredded, destroyed"--ulnar collateral ligament. The ligament was replaced and the clock started. We'll see Burnett again in about six months and he should be back to his old self in 2005, just in time for free agency. By then, he should have a new manager, but for the Marlins' sake, I hope it's much sooner than that. I hate that I can't just give you what I think was a great exchange between a reader and myself. (The reader clicked the little "No" box on the email). My not-so-gentle reader took me to task for going after Torborg and Arnsberg.

  • Here are some things that got my attention, both from the Sun-Sentinel:

    "Burnett, who in his last two starts was topping out at 95 mph instead of the usual 99, is prepared for the worst.

    'I'm mentally strong enough to handle anything they throw at me,' he said. 'I believe strongly it's not the ligament. No way I can throw the ball 95, 96 and [have them] tell me there's something wrong with my ligament. I don't buy it.'

    Though Burnett's velocity was off in his second-to-last outing in New York, he attributed that to not being able to get loose in the cold weather. After Friday's game, he knew something was awry, as did many observers."

    Burnett was clearly wrong with his self-diagnosis. As we can see when looking at his last two starts, his velocity was not only off from one start to the next, but off his previously established level of velocity by the "magic" four percent (that is, assuming our numbers are accurate).

    Then we get this:

    "According to Braunecker, Dr. Andrews was 'utterly amazed' that Burnett was able to pitch at that level Friday with his ligament ripping to shreds."

    There are also some rumors that what was purported to be a "bone bruise," complete with mechanical explanation, was a cover for a bone spur, one that broke off and may have contributed to the tearing of the ligament. All in all, the Marlins--and yes, I blame everyone from the top down--botched this one, and will pay dearly.

  • Randy Johnson made it through one of the bigger tests, but we have to watch the very careful wording of the statement to see exactly what's happening...well, that and ask some great D'backs sources. According to Bob Brenly, Johnson did not have 'excessive swelling,' which isn't exactly the most glowing endorsement. The sources cleared things up, though; Johnson's knee did have some swelling, but nothing even close to the massive problem he had before. Johnson should make his next start without much problem, but will Brenly need to spot Johnson some extra rest here and there to try and get the knee back to normal?

  • Is it just me or do you worry now every time you hear a player coming up with flu-like symptoms? SARS isn't as serious as the mainstream media wants to make you believe, but if someone in the public eye gets it, all heck will break loose. Brian Jordan is the latest Dodger to have flu-like symptoms and he may be headed to the hospital if it doesn't break soon.

  • Eric Young is out with a hip flexor injury--the same injury (and same leg) he missed time with at the end of last season. Young is playing well, but this is a definite RBC situation, and speed is one of the biggest parts of his game.

  • Anyone going to the Indy 500? If so, contact me.

  • Two quick things on Albert Pujols: He'll be playing first base for a while with Tino Martinez serving his suspension, which sounds like a smart move for Pujols and the Cards. The other thing is tougher to explain without graphics, but I'll try...as innovative as Tony La Russa is, why didn't he alter the defensive set to protect Pujols in left? Other than the extreme shift used for Bonds, Giambi, and a few other hitters, there's not much innovation in defensive positioning...which leads me to wonder: Is what we have ideal?

  • Chan Ho Park was placed on the DL with a strained back. Strained backs are...well, let's just say he might have one, he might not, and I'll take the Rangers at their word for now. The Rangers have been playing roster roulette lately, calling people up, designating, sliding some through waivers, and just generally not showing a master plan. I'm hoping there is one.

  • Roy Oswalt thinks his shoulder was cured by mild electrocution. Hmm...you know, he might be on to something. Seriously.

  • I've often said that I can't keep up with the minor leagues, so I rely on people like John Sickels and Kevin Goldstein's Prospect Report to keep me up to date. If you're not on KGPR, you're missing out. Goldstein reports that the Reds' top 2002 pick Chris Gruler had surgery today to fix both a torn labrum and a torn rotator cuff. This is just more bad luck for the Reds--Gruler came in with a clean history and was described by many as a "moose." He's out at least a year, and still has plenty of time to come back. But we all know how tough it is to come back from this type of injury.

  • Activated from the DL Tuesday: Travis Lee and Mariano Rivera. Both will contribute in their own special ways. I think we know which special ways we'd rather have on our favorite team.

  • For those of you who don't peruse ESPN.com, Rob Neyer had a great piece on pitch counts Tuesday. I'm firmly in the middle on the issue, but Rob--as always--made it readable and educational all at once. One of these days, Rob will talk about velocity, I just know it...

Tomorrow is BPR day for me--we'll have an interesting edition with BP's own Jeff Bower chiming in (after I bumped him last week so we could hear more Spaceman!) and in-person interviews with Brooks Kieschnick, Brandon Larson, and Lee Stevens. Stevens will be retiring after the game on Wednesday, so it should be an interesting look at a player from a perspective we seldom see. Changing the perspective is what BPR is all about. Be sure to let me know where you are so we can work on getting BPR on in your area.

Related Content:  Bpr

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