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May 2, 2003

Under The Knife

Freaky Friday

by Will Carroll

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I took interest when Mike Berardino of the Florida Sun-Sentinel quoted me yesterday. Then I remembered why he was quoting me--A.J. Burnett--and the frustration promptly returned. (Sigh).

  • Last night, ESPN reported that Burnett is backing up Jeff Torborg and Brad Arnsberg, but questioning team management. His quote: "There's a rumor out there that our management had known there was a bone spur in my elbow upon arriving from the Expos to the Florida Marlins, and both Brad Arnsberg and Jeff Torborg were not told about this. I'm sure if they were told about this, I would have been handled differently."

    While that's certainly been the rumor, I dismissed it. There's simply no reason for this to occur. Both coaches came with the entire staff, and unless Loria, Samson, and Beinfest have some nefarious plan where they can profit by injuring their best pitcher--and I can't imagine one--there's simply no good reason for this to happen. Even bad owners don't want to actually damage their product.

    No, while I respect Burnett stepping up for his guys, the blame lays solely on the coaches' shoulders. This story is breaking as I write it, and both Larry Beinfest and Dr. Dan Kannell have responded in this article. Keep your eye out for more on this.

  • With all that's gone wrong with the Mets, starting with...well, I don't have the space...the one thing that it seems like they couldn't overcome is the loss of Mike Piazza. With any catcher, a team will need to slot in some games off and will try to have another catcher there to spell him. For most light-hitting catchers, the drop-off is no big deal, but for Piazza, the drop-off is immense, and he's adamant about not moving to another position.

    Piazza is currently experiencing swelling in his knee, which has to worry anyone who's followed the Randy Johnson saga, but in all honesty, Piazza has had these episodes on-and-off for years, like many catchers before him. He should only miss a couple days and get spotted in and out a bit more, but he's at no more risk today than he was a couple weeks ago. There's a lot of risk in any catcher, but one expected to carry a major offensive load is even riskier.

  • Across the diamond and across the defensive spectrum, the Mets have another problem that's leading to a philosophical debate. As Rey Sanchez fights an elbow problem which sounds like bone spurs, the Mets brass is debating if they'll call up Jose Reyes as a replacement. Nice dilemma to have, Sanchez's injury not withstanding. Reyes has been great in Triple-A, would add a speed element, and is certainly the future. The Mets are struggling with what that future is--or rather, who should lead them there. I'm not sure that Steve Phillips will call up Reyes, but it may be time for the teardown.

  • And, um, why is this story about Cliff Floyd even news?

  • Randy Johnson had knee surgery Thursday, and several things were removed, cleaned up, shaved down, and generally made better. It's a little more than the orthopaedic equivalent of a Jiffy Lube, but it's far from serious. Some blame was laid on a knee surgery from 1991 where Johnson's patella was smoothed down, but it's tough to blame anything that lasted over a decade. I made mention about a week ago of advances in knee surgery such as prosthetic meniscus replacements and Synvisc, which is basically a lube injected into the joint space. It's a bit scary, but those crazy Canadians have Synvisc as a self-help product. I don't know of any specific cases in sports where Synvisc has been used, but it would not surprise me to find that it has been.

  • Jeremy Affeldt is making progress with his blisters after discovering Stan's Rodeo Cream (which is named after its inventor, Stan Johnston, the trainer for the Dodgers). He's also changing his grip in hopes he can avoid the blister bugaboo that's bitten him. Changing grips might help his hand, but hurt his pitching, at least in the short term. Watch him closely during his first starts back.

  • It's not often that contact lenses are a negative thing. For the last couple days, Rich Aurilia has had problems with his sight. Something is causing dryness that is causing blurred vision. Blurred vision, as you can imagine, is a very bad thing for hitting and fielding. It should be a very temporary problem.

  • When losing Rey Ordonez hurts your offense, it's not a good sign, but both St. Rey and his cross-state counterpart, Alexander Gonzalez are really making me wonder if I'm wrong about steroids in baseball. Nah. I've seen both of them, and one of the great things about baseball is that over any given small sample size, anything can happen, hence the early eruptions from both players. Ordonez is reported to have a case of turf-toe, which sounds rinky-dink, but is actually brutally painful.

  • Troy Glaus is proud of his ability to play through pain. I'm not even sure how I feel about that: Is it a skill, or should we acknowledge that he might never be what we expected?

  • Darin Erstad had another consultation with the team physicians for the Cleveland Browns. Why? I'm not real sure (maybe because they were in Cleveland?) and no one that knows is telling me. The result is that Erstad is still not ready to return and will not be until May 6th at the very earliest.

  • I'm looking for more news on Lance Berkman's problematic elbow, but I'm seriously lacking good sources down there. I'll keep working.

  • There was a small setback yesterday for Russ Branyan. His shoulder is still not at game strength, let alone full strength. He's having even more trouble with recovery and would likely be limited to 1B duty when his rehab assignment is done. With the Reds lineup, that doesn't help. The Reds need to make some sort of deal to help their pitching and clear the logjam they have at the corner corner OF/1B slot.

  • The Orioles lost Rodrigo Lopez, their titular ace, during Thursday's game. He left after two innings with a strained muscle in his lower back. He should hit the DL Friday. The injury isn't considered serious, so he should be back in two weeks.

  • After plunking Barry Bonds yesterday, Mark Prior said: "Just because he's got 15-20 years in the big leagues and 600 homers and I have been in the league a little under a year doesn't mean I have to stop doing what makes me a professional." I don't condone plugging anyone, but you have to love that attitude.

Have a good weekend everyone...I'll be watching baseball and studying up for my gig next week as trackside reporter for the Indy 500.

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