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May 9, 2003

Under The Knife

Viva La Revolucion!

by Will Carroll

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One of the things I'm seeing more and more of--and no, I'm not arrogant enough to take credit for this--is people discussing injuries and their effects on teams and individuals. There's always been an ebb and flow around big injuries, but I'm starting to see a very subtle shift. There are big debates over pitch counts, discussions with team doctors, and even articles like this one that intelligently discuss age-based overuse. Injury analysis will probably have a slower acceptance curve than performance analysis--and we all know how slow that move has been--but we're here at the beginning. Pioneers, of a sort. Kinda cool.

  • It seems that the Marlins dodged a bullet, but luck cuts both ways. Yes, Josh Beckett may only have a sprained elbow, but it sounds better than it is--as, by definition, a sprain is an injury to a ligament. Yes, Beckett has mild ligament damage in his elbow.

    The mild is the luck, which might lead to a lessening of the stress on his arm in the short term, allowing him to mature some before the stress returns. This quote is the most disturbing, though: "After the game--the Marlins' fifth loss in a row--Beckett acknowledged that his arm had bothered him since mid-April, and he had misled team trainers and the coaching staff by saying little about his symptoms. Beinfest said he hopes Beckett will be more frank in the future." Frank? Beckett did not give full information to his team. Right or wrong, it means that the medical staff did not have the trust of its player or that the team fostered an environment where communication and honesty cowered in fear to a 'warrior mentality.' The good news might also not be enough to save Jeff Torborg's job--the whispers are turning into talk.

  • Nice to see that the Royals are admitting that they lied. I'll give 'em points for sneaking one past me. Mike Sweeney has been dealing with a sprained wrist since early April. The team pawned it off as the flu. The injury is getting all too common in first basemen, but there's still no good explanation. Sweeney has excelled despite this problem and his ongoing back and hamstring difficulties, putting himself in the company of Todd Helton as players who can succeed with injuries.

  • Jason Giambi is not only slumping through the early part of the season, he's dealing with an injury. Surprise. Giambi is finally admitting that his knee is bothering him. The official word is patellar tendinitis, but Giambi is being told it's non-surgical at this point. Even so, like J.D. Drew last season, Giambi would likely be able to play through the season regardless.

  • The Mo Vaughn saga--which should not include the words "insurance fraud"--might have one of those happy accidents, forcing a move I've advocated. The media told Mike Piazza--Oops!--that he'd be moving to first base. Telling the media before the player is seldom the best way to handle these sorts of things. Piazza has always been savvy enough to keep his distaste for a position switch behind the scenes, putting a happy public face on a subject that he's adamant about in the clubhouse. The "no timeframe" comments are a bit strange as well; if he needs time to practice, a few days won't cut it, and if Steve Phillips is forcing the move, his tenuous status might force a re-thinking once he gets the gate.

  • Denny Neagle is moving closer to his return to the Rockies and is showcasing for a trade of any sort. His control and stamina seem on target for a mid-May return to Planet Coors. He'll probably have one, possibly two more starts.

  • The Twins dodged one slightly. Kenny Rogers, opponent of the Free Johan Santana! campaign and the pitcher the Twins picked up when Eric Milton went down, suffered an injury himself. In a collision, Rogers injured his non-throwing shoulder. He had a cortisone injection to reduce the inflammation, but he doesn't expect to miss a start.

  • Today was apparently the official "add some stuff to Chris Kahrl's workload" day. Four relatively meaningless moves, all DL activations--Kaz Sasaki, Milton Bradley, Jim Parque, and Kevin Appier--which should force at least 8,000 words out of CK. Appier's return is the only one really worth watching. Appier's health or lack thereof will perhaps be the fulcrum on which the Angels season goes. Tonight's first start was pretty ugly with six walks the highlight of the line. Sasaki is slightly interesting, but the Mariners won't live or die on his arm. Bradley is a player I like, but we pretty much know what to expect from him. Parque is...well, he's a Devil Ray. Hey Chris: Paul Shuey's coming off the DL today, so put his name in your Inbox.

  • A good friend of UTK at a major league team wrote in and asked why hamstring injuries tended to recur. I'm lazy, so here's what I told him: "A hamstring, like any muscle, is just a collection of fibers. As these fibers contract and relax, there's a great deal of tension on them. If the muscle is asked to contract too strongly, it begins to fray like a rope. If you tie a rope in between two trucks and drive in opposite directions, you could see fibers breaking--pop, pop, pop, until eventually it breaks. Muscle tears come in three varieties--Grade I is when a few fibers pop, Grade II is when there's a visible defect, and Grade III is when you suddenly have two shorter ropes. The body in many cases can repair these fibers, but it does so with scar tissue. To stick with the rope analogy, scar tissue is like wrapping duct tape around the rope. It'll hold, you could use the rope, but it's never quite as strong. Scar is usually about 70% as strong as muscle, so with the muscle weakened, it becomes a vicious cycle--the injury tends to recur, further weakening the muscle and making it more likely to have yet another injury. Things like stretching, proper hydration, and therapeutic modalities can help, but in the end, you're stuck with the rope you were given."

    You can read more about this in BP 2003 as well.

  • Moneyball is so good. I mean, SO good. Perhaps better than Liar's Poker. Lines like "long Hawaiian vacation of the soul" are things I aspire to and will likely never reach.

Tip of the day: a five-shot soy vanilla latte is just too much. I think three is about as far as humans should go. My pole speed prediction...Dan Wheldon in the Jim Beam Honda with a 233.245. I'll see you Monday.

Catch the Doug Pappas World Tour as it rolls into California. SoCal Pizza Feed this Saturday, May 10. NoCal Pizza Feed Wednesday, May 14. Special guests, mystery guests, and more. Head here to sign up.

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