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June 18, 2003

Under The Knife

Under The Needle

by Will Carroll

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There are days when I wonder why I didn't call this column "Under The Needle" or something similar. The reason for this is steroids; it seems that no matter what the topic is or where I am, when people talk baseball with me, they'll bring the conversation back to steroids, and likely to Barry Bonds. Sure, I opened myself to this with my offer to help Barry get tested (which was politely declined by the MLBPA) last year after Bonds said that he wanted to be tested. Why did I offer? I wanted to make a point much different that the Rick Reillys of the world.

I am reasonably sure that Bonds would have passed.

Completely sure? No. Heck, I could have had something in my meatless chicken patty tonight that would trip the light on a urinalysis. The steroid issue is clouded by a couple issues--it's easier to say 'steroids' than Beta-2 agonists or chorionic gonadotrphin, and it's simpler to explain changes. Ignore new bats, new ballparks, better techniques, dietitans, personal trainers, video breakdowns, and a year-round focus, but blame some drug that's been lapped by the field. Easy, but wrong.

Jose Canseco's wrong, Ken Caminiti's wrong, and even Tony Gwynn is wrong. Most of all, though, the MLBPA and MLB are wrong in not adopting strong, fair standards, such as those of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Until the press stops writing poorly researched articles like this, however, and spoonfeeding them to the masses, I'll continue to hear the questions of the ignorant. Be anything but ignorant.

Onto the injuries...

  • I said that it was a 50/50 shot that Roy Oswalt would avoid the DL. That coin came up heads...or tails...or whichever side of the coin meant that Oswalt would go to the DL. Oswalt shouldn't be on the DL long and it is a retro move, but every missed start costs the Astros a little bit of their chance in the tightly-bunched, probably down-to-the-wire NL Central.

  • Friend of UTK Adam Ulrey wrote in with news on Kevin Brown being lifted from his start in the seventh. The reason is what's being described as a mild groin strain. No determination will be made until at least Thursday, but initial reports were positive.

  • Some reports on Jeremy Affeldt's start are spinning negative after he was removed following just five innings on Tuesday, but those reports ignore his strict 100 pitch limit. Affeldt reportedly made it through the start without a blister, which is becoming not just news but darn near miraculous. For the Royals to have any shot--now and in the near future--Affeldt will need to be either an ace or at the very least, a solid starter.

  • Jae Seo was the latest major portion of a one-hitter involving the Mets. David Weathers and Armando Benitez have to get some credit of course, but Seo had a great outing. According to a source at the game, Seo was pitching well and fooling people with his changeup, but seemed to be the type of pitcher that wouldn't do well on his second tour of the league. Seo left the game with a split fingernail, so his next start is in some question, depending on the severity and location of the split.

  • With Dontrelle Willis picthing like many expected from Josh Beckett or A.J. Burnett, perhaps some of the pressure is off Beckett's return. The date is set and he should be back on June 28th. Hopefully, the Marlins are learning from past failure and will be able to keep Beckett healthy going forward. The Marlins at some point need to commit to some strategy, some player to build around, and some plan for their future. If it's not Cliff Floyd or Mike Lowell, Willis and Beckett could be as good a young tandem as there is in baseball--and yes, I'm including Mark Prior and Kerry Wood in that mix.

  • Sadly, Ryan Anderson couldn't do whatever it was that got Gil Meche back and better than ever. Anderson is headed under the knife for the third time in three years. Anderson remains young and very tall, but the potential he had is rapidly becoming a tale of what might have been without the romanticism of Bo Belinsky. Anderson remains an object lesson in the risks of drafting on potential and believing in hype.

  • While there's still some open question on what the exact injury was to Rick Reed, there are times that the only fact that matters is that a player is expected to return from that injury on a certain date. This might be one of those, but the unknown bothers me much more than the known. Watching injuries is like a negative lottery--someone's number is coming up, but you never know who, where, or how. There are educated guesses and information, but at times, there are no numbers to call, no sources giving me the scoop, and I just have to sit back and watch like any other fan. I'll be watching Reed, and you should be as well.

  • Ken Griffey Jr. was not in Tuesday's lineup, but not due to any shoulder injury. Griffey said after Monday's game that he hit his funny bone while reaching for a home run, but tonight, his legs were "tired." With an extra outfielder in the mix, Bob Boone can do things like only Bob Boone can. The last person I saw tinker quite that much with anything was that guy in the dorm my junior year that spent his tuition money on crystal meth and a 5000-piece set of Legos.

  • Quick Cuts: While it's good news, readers of this column shouldn't be surprised to see Hee Seop Choi back on the field. He'll be back at the minimum...Todd Ritchie was in Birmingham to go under the knife of Jim Andrews. The Brewers will suck, with or without him, but for Ritchie, this could be the end of the line...David Dellucci and Daryle Ward were both activated and will return to their fourth outfielder roles...Kris Benson and coach Spin Williams feel they've fixed some mechanical flaws. Benson will head back to the mound this weekend...Brian Giles hopes to ditch the knee brace he's worn since returning. I'm a big fan of braces and would try to find him something more comfortable rather than ditching it entirely...Shea Hillenbrand heads to the DL with a strained oblique that is reported to be pretty severe. It's just not the Diamondbacks year...J.T. Snow left Tuesday's game with an apparent groin strain. More details when they're known.

To me, this is true scandal. Where do documents like this come from and how was this allowed to happen? Sadly, we'll probably find out about the same time I figure out what the guy says at the end of Radiohead's "Just" video. If it was an agent that sold these documents, the guy deserves some serious jail time. Interestingly, we'll be talking about and to agents on this week's Baseball Prospectus Radio.

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