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June 6, 2003

Under The Knife

Craving Sleep

by Will Carroll

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Like many, I'm pretty sick of seeing the Chicago Sun-Times and people with the mentality of Rick Reilly blasting Sammy Sosa. I'll talk more about this on BP Radio, but I think this isn't nearly the story everyone thinks it is.

Not surprisingly, Bob Watson isn't going to drop a decision until after the Yankees come to town. How convenient. My suggestion? Every time Sammy hits a homer, he should snap the bat over his knee, Bo Jackson-style, and toss the halves to the closest kid in the stands. If he can't escape it, revel in it.

  • The Expos got about the worst possible news Thursday, regarding Vladimir Guerrero. Early thought that his back pain was the result of the hard turf in Montreal and would clear up once he got to grass turned out to be incorrect. An MRI showed a mildly bulging, herniated disk but significant nerve impingement. The likely course of action is a DL stint and epidural injections to control the inflamed disk and attempt to reduce the impingement. This is a relatively easy injury to come back from in a matter of weeks, if not too severe. But reports on the severity of Vlad's injury have varied. The Montreal Gazette reports that "Guerrero probably will be sidelined for an extended period of time." Vlad will likely see renowned spine surgeon Robert Watkins for a second opinion. The loss of their superstar not only hurts the Expos on the field, but also reduces the potential trade value for Vlad.

  • Zach Day was sent back to the mainland (now there's a weird phrase) for an MRI on his injured pitching shoulder. The inflammation wasn't subsiding after the collision, and the MRI was termed precautionary. Except the Expos got more nasty news: Day, on the DL since May 29, will now be out 6-to-8 weeks (and possibly longer) with a torn rotator cuff. The Expos are experiencing another type of cascading--the kind where a series of injuries to players puts other players at greater risk. As Day, Tony Armas, and Orlando Hernandez are on the DL, there is more pressure for Javier Vazquez to pitch deeper into games, for younger pitchers to be forced into starting roles, and for the bullpen to be overstressed. It's a cycle that only the best medical staffs and managers can work together to break.

  • There's been some confusion regarding Randy Johnson, but I spoke to team sources yesterday afternoon and got a bit more clarity on the situation. Johnson and the staff are discussing using Synvisc, an artificial lubricant, in his knee, but this is more a long-term solution. Johnson fully intends to pitch for several more years and does not want to undergo a series of "scrape and tape" knee scopes or have the same type of arthritic degeneration seen in other players. The Synvisc injections should not affect his injury timetable.

    While there have been comments that Johnson's knee will not be at full strength until the All-Star break, it has not been ruled out that he could pitch before then. The D'backs realize that rushing Johnson back won't help. As well, rumors of a Johnson trade to Atlanta--reportedly for Javy Lopez, Wilson Betemit, and Jason Marquis--are laughable.

  • Tom Glavine went only one inning yesterday with uncharacteristic wildness. Leaving the game after 54 pitches, Glavine reported "severe stiffness" in his pitching elbow. Reader Greg Sigountos wrote in to let me know that Glavine said in a postgame interview that the problem was caused by adjustments he made as a result of his recent blister. Look--cascading! Since loss of command often is a sign of UCL problems, this bears watching and any injury would be just another nail in the coffin for Steve Phillips.

    When the insurance industry says that certain player types are risks and that insurance contracts can only go for three years, why is it that some teams don't realize the monumental risk they are undertaking? There are special players that fall outside the normal rules, but special players are few and far between. Say what you want about insurance companies--you've probably never heard someone call them "suckers."

  • Mike Hampton left his start early on Thursday with a left groin strain. This is the groin that was surgically repaired a couple years ago and would be left structurally weaker as a result. Hampton has dealt with the problem for about a week, but was allowed to start after a good side session. No determination on his next start has been made.

  • Is it a good or bad sign that Nick Johnson had a bone scan on his hand? Neither, really. The results will tell the tale. The bone scan is done purely to gauge the healing and to help determine the rehabilitation plan that Johnson will undergo. The four-to-six-week timetable still holds, with the weighting toward the long end. In Tampa, my famous fencewatchers have only seen Bernie Williams on crutches. That's not a good sign for a quick return.

  • Jeff Cirillo is still sore after bashing himself into a wall in Philly. It's his neck that is bothering him most, but he escaped a Bill Mueller-like fate. The M's have a couple other sore players--Carlos Guillen's back isn't as bad as it was earlier this week and Edgar Martinez reported some new hamstring problems--but neither should miss much time.

  • Quick Cuts: Pete Walker heads to the DL with a patellar tendon strain. He won't be back until the All-Star break at the earliest...Rafael Palmeiro's sore back kept him out of Thursday's game, but doesn't appear to be serious. The Rangers should get Doug Glanville and Chan Ho Park back over the weekend, so watch the team's roster moves...Danny Graves left Thursday's game with a blister on his middle finger. He was getting shelled, so it could be that the blister was affecting him. No word yet if this will push back his next start...Jason Bere will head under the knife of team doctor Mark Schickendantz in the next week to repair his damaged rotator cuff.

  • Umpire Mike DiMuro was hit in the face with a thrown ball tonight in Houston, ending up with stitches and a probably broken nose. Best wishes to the man in black and blue.

The latest plan for my Outside The Lines segment is currently Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. Naturally, they'd put the coffee addict on the one morning I can sleep in. At least I own shares in Starbucks, so some good can come of this. Hopefully everyone will tune into BP Radio on Saturday and then Outside The Lines on Sunday. Yeah, right...get some sleep and I'll see you next week.

Related Content:  Robert Johnson

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