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June 20, 2003

Under The Knife

Remembering

by Will Carroll

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Last night, out at Victory Field and across the country, we were able to celebrate the 100th birthday of Lou Gehrig and remember both his excellence as well as his courage in the face of tragedy. As well, there was a moment to remember Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League. I wonder who we'll remember like this 50 years from now--will we honor Hideo Nomo or Dave Nilsson as groundbreakers? Will we have an openly gay player? I'll watch, confident that every time I see the game of baseball being played, I might just be seeing history.

  • I'm not sure how to report the injuries to Paul Wilson because I don't know who said what or how the tension built to the point where Kyle Farnsworth form-tackled Wilson and proceeded to drop a beatdown unlike most baseball fights I've ever seen. Wilson, for one, owes Damian Miller a six-pack for covering him and keeping a couple more Farnsy haymakers from landing. I'm sure suspensions will be forthcoming, but this fight--in more ways than one--hurt the Reds much more than the Cubs.

  • It's an odd injury to Alex Rodriguez, who is nearly as durable as his hero, Cal Ripken. From the tape, I can't tell if he just dropped his glove early or was making something of a deke tag, but either way, the throw down on the steal attempt whacked Alex squarely in his nose. He was dazed and bloodied, leaving the game early, but there's no word on if he'll miss any time. With injuries like this, it will be based on his awareness level and pain tolerance. I'd expect him to miss a game or two, but nothing serious.

  • The Diamondbacks have had so many injuries this season that it seems like there may be a "post-Buck" factor. The stats show that teams managed by Buck Showalter have a lower than average incidence of injury. This carries for a couple seasons and then returns to near average. I have no idea if Buck himself has anything to do with this or how meaningful it actually is, but it's interesting nonetheless. For now, the Diamondbacks will try to ride the post-Buck wave by getting two cogs in their pitching machine back; both Randy Johnson and Matt Mantei are preparing to throw off mounds and should be on similar time-table, putting them back in the lineup by the ASB.

  • Broken ribs are the official verdict on Kaz Sasaki. The rumors are pretty thick and I'll simply say that since I don't know if any of them are true, I'll stick to the facts in this situation. It's one thing to hear something from a good source and quite another to spread simple gossip--not that I haven't done that on occasion. Sasaki is almost assuredly out until after the ASB and rib injuries are notoriously slow to heal and painful to deal with.

  • Kurt Ainsworth is continuing to have a slow rehab. He was shut down early in his last outing and I got this report from a friendly reader:
    "First Inning...31 pitches. 16 strikes 15 balls. What I noticed right away was that the off-speed stuff was out of the strike zone. Most every fastball was a strike, my best guess is that in the first inning it was almost a 50-50 split. He really seemed to be laboring, breathing hard between every pitch. In the first inning Kurt gave up two solid singles, and walked two batters, and pitched himself out of a bases loaded situation to only give up one run. The fast balls were clocked between 86 and 89, and the off-speed stuff was 72 to 75.

    "Second Inning...six pitches. Six strikes, zero balls. One strikeout, a pop foul to the catcher, and a ground ball to first. Twice Kurt managed to reach 90 on the gun, topping out at 91. After the end of the inning there was a little commotion. I sit behind home plate in the first row of seats. In front of us is a pit where cameramen, pitchers doing their charting, and some personnel people sit. Well, about twenty-five feet from me is Ron Peranoski, who has been in town since Saturday. Bert Bradley, the pitching coach calls Ron over they have a short conversation and he gets on his cell phone (to Brian Sabean? Stan Conte?). Next thing I know Mike Johnson is up in the bullpen, and Ainsworth's night is over."

  • Jermaine Dye is having ongoing problems with his right knee and it's going to take pretty regular off-days to maximize his potential in 2003. The A's seem to be committing to Eric Byrnes, leaving Chris Singleton available to roam around the outfield, but he's hardly the prototype fourth outfielder. Billy Beane is probably working something here--I have some ideas and I'm sure you do as well--but Dye will need spotting in and out properly.

  • A groin injury has put yet another Yanks reliever on the shelf. Antonio Osuna's injury is not considered serious, but an already thin bullpen might push Frankensteinbrenner to do something, well, rash. The mind can't really wrap itself around the possibilities in such a thin trade market, but I keep hearing that Jeff Weaver is suddenly available.

  • When I go to St. Louis next week--for the first time since 1998--I'm thinking of wearing some sort of charm. I'm a bit worried, being the injury "guru" as some people like to call me, that the bad mojo might rub off on me. What mojo, you ask? There's obviously some sort of curse or voodoo or SOMETHING going on. TLR is not overworking the pitchers, the Cards have a good medical staff, and their players--outside of Jason Isringhausen and Jim Edmonds--are reasonably durable through their careers. The latest victim is Miguel Cairo, headed to the DL after his finger was fractured during an at bat. Even insignificant injuries, piled up, have significant effects on a contending team. Maybe TLR should call up Bill Lee and see if he can bring Laurie Cabot down and remove the curse. (Here's another odd fact: why did the injury totals for the Cards go up after the turf was removed?)

  • The Royals are just being overprotective of Zack Greinke. While he did have what was described as "mild upper back spasms," Greinke will be shut down for a while. As one of few hot prospects I've actually seen a couple times, Greinke seems to be as good as the hype and well worth protecting, especially for an organization like the Royals. Greinke will be a big part of the next winning Royals team.

Someone please explain this Mark Bellhorn for Jose Hernandez deal to me. With most teams, I can see a plan--perhaps a bad plan, but it's clear. With the Cubs, what is the plan? Jim Hendry is succeeding, but I don't know if it is by design or by luck. I'm not sure we've seen the last deal in this sequence--Miguel Cabrera being called up by the Scalies intrigues me--so I'm hopeful that the plan will become apparent.

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