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June 3, 2003

Under The Knife

Bullet Dodging

by Will Carroll

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While sitting and waiting for Scott McCauley to pick me up for an Indianapolis Indians game, I got the second "out of the blue" call of the week. "Hi, this is ESPN" is a phrase that any writer wants to hear--but by the end of the day, it turned out that my television debut would have to wait. I got bumped.

I'm told that I'll be on tonight to discuss pitch counts, but just like with radio, TV shifts fast. I'm ready. At worst, I've got all these notes, so I'll talk pitch counts tomorrow on the "Will Carroll Baseball Hour." (3-4 p.m. Central at ESPN950.com.)

Onto the injuries...

  • The Braves may have dodged some bullets from a rain-soaked Saturday game, but Chipper Jones definitely got the worst of it. While Andruw Jones and Javy Lopez should be back quickly, Chipper's wrist--according to the Athens Banner-Herald--remains swollen, and he's unable to even hold a bat. The Braves medical staff is probably going to have a long night trying to get him to a point where he can play on Tuesday, but that's admittedly unlikely. There's still a chance he'll need to head to the DL.

  • Good news for Angels fans: Darin Erstad made it through a game in Triple-A Salt Lake. While he was weak with the bat, reports from the game make it sound like he had no problem in the field or running. No observer reports on it, but I'll take the "no news is good news" stance with this. Erstad should be back soon, perhaps as early as next week.

  • Ryan Dempster should be back in the Reds rotation this weekend and not a moment too soon. Suggestions for fixing their staff go from panic trades to swapping the relievers with the rotation. I spoke with Reds Assitant General Manager Brad Kullman last week and he didn't sound too panicked. Outside of Jeff Austin's meltdown, the Reds rotation has been about what everyone expected. The team never had the aces that the Cubs, Astros, or Cards have, so just a league-average rotation with that lineup should be enough to contend in a close division. Unfortunately the scrap heap route hasn't worked out as well as planned.

  • Aaron Boone isn't blaming his recent slump on the back problem that kept him out of a game this weekend, but it's as good an explanation as any. Russell Branyan isn't going to be a solution--he has his own shoulder problems--but keeping Boone healthy is obviously going to be a priority for the Reds medical staff.

  • Daryle Ward had a great quote in the L.A. Times about coming off the DL and getting hot. He seems to think that people come off the DL and suddenly find a groove. This is akin to the throwing-harder-after-Tommy-John-surgery logic. Sure, finally being healthy makes you feel better, but other than the difference between injury and health, it doesn't change a player's skill level. If players could "get hot" by going on the DL, more would, and we wouldn't see those pesky rehab assignments.

  • Willie Harris had a setback with his separated shoulder and was shut down just prior to heading out on a rehab assignment. This probably moves his timetable back at least a week, but quotes from team trainer Herm Schneider didn't sound like he was too worried.

  • There seems--seems--to be a connection between a loss of command and elbow problems. This holds truer for young pitchers than others. With that in mind, Aaron Cook of the Rockies bears watching. His command has never been the best, but it's so much worse at this point that he may be forced to overextend himself to retain his spot in the rotation. It's a vicious cycle.

  • I'm not sure if the Illinois ephedra ban is the best thing, and I'm not sure if the pending lawsuit against the makers of Xenadrine from Steve Bechler's family will do a whole lot, but the discussion is out there and someone needs to step up and help educate. Yes, MLB, I'm talking to you.

  • It stuns me that MLB not only neglects to promote and televise its draft, but that it's now even harder for people to hear. MLB Radio is an interesting product--and everyone knows I love radio--but even for me it's not something I'm going to subscribe to for seven bucks a month. Heck, if I'm spending money on radio, I'd get one of those cool XM Radios that Willie Nelson is selling. Jayson Stark has a great article about the problem, and once again I'll only pray that Sandy Alderson is listening and can keep Bud in a closet somewhere.

Thanks for the plate suggestions. Back tomorrow...

Related Content:  The Week In Quotes

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