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May 15, 2003

Under The Knife

I Also Carry a Small Snake

by Will Carroll

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I swear I'll quit talking about Moneyball at some point, but I honestly think it's the Ball Four of my generation. It's really that good.

Anyway, I spoke with a friend yesterday who works in baseball, and he said something that absolutely stuck with me: "The whole book is an indictment of what we see." And that includes injuries too--perception and accepted wisdom are sometimes tough to fight.

  • Something as simple as sliding is a good test. You'll remember a couple weeks ago, I came across some research that showed head-first slides had a lesser rate of injury and an equivalent level of severity than feet-first slides. Again, what our eyes tell us is different. Tonight we have two players in key defensive positions--guys that scouts would almost universally say have "great hands"--injuring their best, perhaps only, tools by sliding headfirst. Pokey Reese is the most seriously injured of the pair, tearing ligaments in his thumb. Surgery is pending and the results will determine the course of his season. It sounds from inside the Pirates that Reese is done, and they'll lean on Abraham Nunez to pick up the slack. Best-case scenario would have Reese coming back in late August, and by that time, the Pirates won't need him. More than anything, the Bucs' groundball pitchers will miss him.

  • Less than a week after the haircut tempest, Rey Sanchez is on the DL with a "sore left palm" according to some sources. In fact, it's a thumb, but the jokes about a sore palm are funnier, so let's pretend that it's true. Sanchez injured the thumb during--get this--a headfirst slide.

    And it's probably been reported elsewhere by now, but the Mets found Mo Vaughn. I mean, you've seen the guy--how hard can it be? Some satellites can probably pick him up without using the big lens. Vaughn is getting a FIFTH opinion on his knee and we'll have more info soon on what the plan is for his future.

  • I guess it's good to have a reminder after mentioning Pokey and Rey that it's just as easy--easier, in fact--to injure yourself sliding feet-first. Ray Durham's very ugly injury is making great progress and the three-to-four week prognosis is now, perhaps, a near-minimum situation. Chalk another one up for Stan Conte and the Giants medical staff.

  • Eric Hinske admitted to the public that he's been fighting a case of tendinitis. Or has he? In his description of the injury, he talks about swinging so much in the cages that he gave himself tendinitis, then "kicked it loose" sliding into a base (lucky he didn't hurt himself!). This description sounds more to me like carpal tunnel syndrome rather than tendinitis--or, if not carpal, one of the other overuse syndromes of the lower arm, wrist, and hand. Hinske appears to be fine, but this may be a clue into some of the strange wrist injuries suffered by strong, slugging corner infield types, such as Nick Johnson and Hee Seop Choi.

  • No, I have no idea how Bobby Kielty can swing a bat, but can't throw. The decisions coming out of Minnesota are becoming more and more curious, more and more disjointed, and I really can't put a finger on what's wrong there. Their roster construction problems, for one, are just beyond me.

  • I've been one of the ones watching Kaz Sasaki closely and it looks--finally--that he's beginning to get his velocity back, especially on that nasty splitter. No matter what the Mariners say, you can't convince me that there was "nothing wrong--nothing at all" with Sasaki's shoulder. It was a compensation injury, and given time to let his elbow get right, he's fine. Bank on it.

  • That Ryan Anderson is unable to pitch without pain after two serious shoulder surgeries is sad in many ways, yet predictable. The recent discussion, much like that with Jimmy Journell of the Cards, is that failing the ability to get him in as a starter for any period of time, they're willing to try and teach him to sidearm and make him a reliever. I'm all for thinking outside the box and finding a way to get Anderson productive, but the M's seem to be ignoring the BH Kim situation out of hand, as well as thinking they can completely retool someone's mechanics and have them remain effective. I remain unconvinced and think that the team that's just now getting Gil Meche back and effective might be better served to have some more patience. In yet another Moneyball connection, Roger Jongewaard was quoted several times in this article discussing Anderson.

  • Byung-Hyun Kim is still a few more days away for the D'backs. His ankle is still not back to a stage where he can run or move laterally without experiencing residual pain. If this was a playoff series or late-season run, Kim could play and probably would, but it's not, so why rush? With Kim and Randy Johnson on the horizon and Brandon Webb pitching reasonably well, the D'backs are positioned to make a run...or make a deal for some hitting, which is probably a better plan.

  • Quick Cuts: The Yankees activated Antonio Osuna from the DL. Clearly, they bought his health...Carlos Febles should be back in the Royals lineup soon. This may or may not be a positive, but not going to a six-man rotation is definitely a positive. Something's definitely changed in Kansas City and no one's getting the credit...Darin Erstad will have some time in the bus leagues before returning to Anaheim...Marvin Benard is out around four weeks after having his knee scoped...Ismael Valdes had a turnaround and actually feels better for once. He'll likely make his next start for Texas this weekend...Josh Fogg will likely make one more rehab start before returning to a Pokey-less Pirate team.

  • Yes, the Kremchek piece is now done. Now comes my final edit and hopefully it will be up some time next week. Would the several fine readers asking daily now leave me alone? :-)

  • This article is a great take on a problem I've had with the game for a while. All we have now is Bermanisms, and those got tired about the time I got out of high school. Hell, maybe yours truly needs a nickname. No, Derek--one I can print.

Tomorrow should be good. Interviewing Michael Lewis, then a ballgame. Come join me at Victory Field in Indy if you can. I'll be the one with a beer.

Related Content:  Headfirst

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