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May 20, 2003

Under The Knife

Warrior Mentality

by Will Carroll

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Tonight's UTK is dedicated to the memory of Bill Buhler, truly a giant in the field.

Some ask why I don't just talk about injuries. Some ask why I go off topic. Some ask why I write in short paragraphs rather than expansive prose passages. Some ask why I don't cover every injury or ignore teams or do a million other things. To me, UTK remains what I intended the very first time: a discussion between myself and friends about what I consider the most underreported piece of baseball. As we attempt to reduce baseball to its component parts, we run into the wall of complexity. I consider the readers an important part of an ongoing discussion, and like any good conversation it is two ways and includes the occasional tangent.

I open with a paragraph--like this--that gives you a bit of insight into what I'm thinking. Those that have read this column for a long period can tell my mood and how that may color what I'm covering. Sometimes you'll agree, sometimes you won't and sometimes I'll find out what cool people are out there who are willing to help me out with info, scoop, or even just helping me make this column better by hooking me up with a laptop or tickets to a game. If you're just here for the injury analysis, that's fine, but if you join the conversation, we'll all get the revolution moving quicker, even with my tangents.

  • Once again, go ahead and cringe. Mike Piazza is waiting on an MRI for his strained groin, but it was pushed back due to swelling. You almost never like to see the words "swollen" and "groin" in the same sentence, so if we're trying to figure out the severity of Piazza's injury, this...well, this tells us nothing. Short term, Piazza wasn't expected back anyway, but until the results of the MRI come back, there's not much in the way of new guidance.

  • Seeing that Steve Karsay was headed back to the offices of Dr. Jim Andrews should have been the first clue, but Karsay is now officially out for the season. He'll undergo surgery on Tuesday to determine the problem in his shoulder. The guess is that there is a small tear in his rotator cuff, but the surgery is termed "exploratory." Some Yanks' fans will no doubt question why surgery wasn't performed back in April when Dr. Andrews said surgery wouldn't be necessary. The chance of someone coming back without surgery often outweighs the pain and problems of injury rehab. Dr. Andrews has become quite conservative about opening up pitchers in the last 18 months, a fact worth knowing.

  • Eric Hinske hit a nice long one last night, but he's still experiencing some problems with his wrist. Reports now move away from the earlier tendinitis and focus on a "radiating bruise." The symptomology still sounds like some sort of impingement, but we'll continue to monitor this. The worst of this is that even in an organization that 'gets it' like the Jays, some are still encouraging the 'warrior mentality.'

  • Josh Beckett returned to the land of those that can throw, but he's still several weeks away from a return to the Scalies. Beckett is on a program that should have him back in the middle of June, plenty of time to heal some of the damage he did to himself with that 'warrior mentality.'

  • The Rockies have really been in a world of hurt lately, but are playing well through it. That's really the mark of a good team--or at least one that's not going to be ruined by a stretch of bad luck. While Mike Hampton is just a memory being paid for by Jeffrey Loria, Denny Neagle is still on the payroll and still on a rehab assignment. He's not doing well, still fighting to get his shoulder to a point where he can pitch without pain. He'll likely make one or two starts.

  • At the lower end of the rotation, there's the ever-present good news/bad news: Nelson Cruz appears headed to the DL with a shoulder problem that keeps getting worse, while Dennis Stark is getting raves, as he's pulled well ahead of target for his return. Manager Clint Hurdle is begging to have Stark back as sooon as possible.

  • To close out the Rockies section of this report, yes, Todd Helton realizes his power numbers are off because of his back injury, but he's not going to use it as an excuse. If you were counting on him supplying his normal 40 bombs, it's just not going to happen without a miracle cure.

  • I was asked today why some players are placed on the 15-day DL when it's known that they will be out much longer than 60 days. I dug through the rulebook and found that teams cannot place a player on the 60 until they have a full 40-man roster. Since the 60-day DL is used primarily to open up a slot on the 40-man roster, this makes sense.

  • Speaking of rules, Russell Branyan is filing a grievance because the Commissioner's Office disallowed a second rehab assignment. Branyan believes that with his permission, there should be no problem. The rule (Rule 9(i) if you're really obsessive) doesn't say explicitly that this can't be done, so Branyan might be on to something. For the time being, Branyan will head to extended spring training to continue to strengthen his shoulder.

  • Ben Grieve could be ready as soon as Tuesday--I didn't get a report on his extended spring training game--but he really doesn't have a position to return to with Aubrey Huff now entrenched in RF. Grieve could see time at DH, but at best, he'll lose at-bats.

  • Keep your eye on Matt Mantei. Mantei is complaining of shoulder stiffness, but it isn't currently considered serious. He'll hit the anti-inflammatories hard and should be back in a couple days, but longer-term, it's worth watching closely, especially given his history of injuries.

  • Quick Cuts: Jason Bere has completed his rehab assignment and should be back on the mound for Cleveland later this week...Mike Fetters will be activated by the Twins this week and Tony Fiore is the likely roster move...Dave Veres has a couple more rehab outings scheduled this week and then should return to the Cubs bullpen; Todd Wellemeyer has been great, but is the likely move...Marvin Benard is on target for a return after his recent knee surgery...According to my sources, a recent conference on shoulder injuries involved a case study that sounded like Robb Nen...Kip Wells may miss a start after leaving his last game with a blister.

  • The final proof that the save statistic is meaningless might just be in the list of guys on there. If you expected Cal Eldred to be one save behind Billy Koch or for Rocky Biddle to be ahead of Billy Wagner, could you please provide me with the next Powerball numbers? I promise to use my winnings to buy the Expos. Now playing the part of Schottzie II, Jonah Keri!

Thanks to everyone that offered help on my Bluetooth question. They managed to convince me to go Wi-Fi. Now, I just have to install it. The response once again reminded me that the best part about UTK is the readers.

In the interest of full disclosure, the "wall of complexity" line was taken from Barabasi's Linked. No Jayson Blair here.

Back tomorrow, watching the defectives...

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