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May 13, 2003

Under The Knife

Technically Speaking

by Will Carroll

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So much research tonight that I'll just get right into it...

  • OK, hold on--this one's going to get technical. The easy part to explain is that Eli Marrero is going to have surgery to repair the damage done during Sunday's non-game. Marrero's injury is tough to judge because the ankle was not visible during the actual injury. Reconstructing events took a bunch of calls--some to sources, some to the omniscient UTK Advisors--and here's our best guess. Marrero inverted and plantarflexed his ankle (turned in and pointed down), then landed on his heel, further forcing the internal rotation of the ankle. This stress, while not weight-bearing, caused enough strain on two ligaments (anterior talofibular and calcaneofibular) to cause a tear in one or both of these ligaments. Team physician George Paletta will perform the surgery that, in effect, is much like Tommy John surgery on an ankle. A portion of tendon will be used to replace one or both ligaments and the rehab is extensive.

    One of the main problems of rehab is the loss of proprioception. Proprioception is more complicated than I can explain in this space, but think of it as knowing where your body parts are without looking. A loss of agility, explosive speed, and deceleration ability is also a problem that rehab will have to address. I don't have a good comparable for this since Marrero is far from a typical player. Jason Kendall is close, but Mark DeRosa is a better injury, if not player-type and comp. DeRosa was able to return to baseball activity in about two months, but the injury was not considered as serious as Marrero's. Oddly, Craig Paquette, another TLR fave, had similar surgery, but took longer to return. Another player mentioned during a call was Paul Molitor, who had a similar injury while playing CF in the early '80s. According to Mat Olkin, Molitor's ankle was never a problem after that. At this stage, the timetable looks to be between eight and 12 weeks for a return.

  • As Derek Jeter preps for his return tomorrow, Ken Griffey Jr. isn't far behind. I mentioned yesterday that Griffey would be back and it could be as soon as Friday. I think a more likely scenario would be sometime during the next Reds homestand, but Griffey might feel a bit less pressure on the road. (Yes, I'm closer to getting the Kremchek article complete. The month of May has just been insane and I hope the wait will be worth it.)

  • The only thing worse than having a player on the DL for the season is paying for a player on the DL for the season. Insurance is getting tougher and tougher to acquire, so at least the Expos aren't writing the checks to Orlando Hernandez. El Duque underwent surgery on a "small" rotator cuff tear--that sounds very similar to Robb Nen, doesn't it?--and the Expos think he's out until at least September. Don't count on a return unless Jonah Keri's other fantasy comes true.

  • It's just one start--and what we need to see is four starts, since he's gone three without problems before--but it was a nice first step for Jeremy Affeldt. A six-man rotation is just stealing starts from one of my favorite young pitchers. As I watch the Royals, I wonder three things: how long will it be before they stop being a fluke, when did Mike McDougal read Mike Marshall's book, and who is the anonymous analyst that Allard Baird hired?

  • The Cards are trying to help Jason Isringhausen avoid the fate of Trevor Hoffman and Robb Nen. He's just beginning a new rehab protocol, starting with mound work at around half-effort. At minimum, he's two weeks away and the Cards are prepping everywhere for the chance he won't be back. The conversion of Jimmy Journell to relief is not a coincidence. (By the way, Hoffman is still on target for a return sometime around the ASB.)

  • Quick cuts: Darren Holmes will be activated this weekend without a rehab stint...Ryan Dempster has responded well to treatment as is nearly ready to return to the rotation...Travis Hafner might avoid the DL, but the Indians might also take the opportunity to see what Ben Broussard can do. Hafner's toe will be ready in five to ten days...Jeromy Burnitz is about a week away.

  • We need more stories like this. Thank you, Mike.

Thanks to Jayson Stark for the mention in his "Rumblings & Grumblings" last week. Congrats to Kevin Goldstein of The Prospect Report who's receiving the Gammons flood. Also, megathanks to new friend of UTK Chris Shannon at Apple. My new iBook is somewhere between Cupertino and Indy and will be in my highly caffeinated paws sometime tomorrow. If you're in the market for a Mac, email me and I'll hook you up with Chris.

Oh yeah, Jonah leaked it a bit today in the BP Premium email, but this week's BPR is going to be amazing. Not only do we have Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, we have the subject of the book, A's GM Billy Beane. It's a true can't-miss, must-listen edition. For anyone that doubted BPR, this edition should be the end of that discussion.

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