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June 27, 2003

Under The Knife

St. Louie

by Will Carroll

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St. Louis needs a new stadium. For the so-called "Best Baseball City in America"--the PA announcer's words, not mine--that they're the last with an 1970s Ashtray-style ballpark is kind of sad. Cheering for Bo Hart like he just cured cancer and found Saddam Hussein is kind of sad too, but unlike me, people like those little gritty guys without much talent. I once got flamed seriously on my local radio gig for saying I'd want my son to grow up and be like Barry Bonds. Silly me for wanting a child of mine to try to be the best.

  • In St. Louis, I took in a game with my dad and went to the annual National Athletic Trainers Association convention, which is about as boring as it sounds--the conference, not the game with my dad. There's only so much talk about program approvals and anatomical snuffboxes that I can take before I'm itching to augment my high-carb diet. The keynote speaker, on the other hand, was amazing. If you ever get the chance to see the IMAX movie Everest or read Into Thin Air, do it. If you get the chance to see Dr. Beck Weathers in person, do it. It's tough to be entertaining, morbid, and inspiring all at once, but he did it in spades.

  • The injury to Mike Sweeney has a number of subplots. First, the injury is an acute muscular problem to his upper back, near where the cervical spine becomes the thoracic. Royals trainer Nick Swartz thinks that the injury may have happened after a game-winning hit. He theorizes that Sweeney was looking down and was hit behind his head, forcing it down. This is a good excuse to ban the silly celebrations or at least teach people not to beat the hell out of teammates. ("Mr. Ken Harvey, where were you when Sweeney was injured?") Second, Sweeney's current injury is not related to the problems he's had with his lower back. It doesn't affect that situation besides allowing him to rest some. Sweeney's injury should heal relatively quickly and he should miss only the minimum, assuming no setbacks.

  • The news from Brian Jordan's MRI was good laced with a bit of bad. While the knee is structurally sound, he is having a recurrence of patellar tendinitis. This is the same knee that was surgically repaired after the end of last season, so even a mild recurrence puts him on the path to chronic problems. Jordan's not young, so the question of arresting the progress is more important to his baseball career than a cure. There's no reason to think that Jordan can't play; his pain tolerance is established, but his desire to continue to tolerate it is something only he can answer.

  • Roy Oswalt is scheduled to throw another bullpen session this weekend, likely on Saturday. Assuming all goes well, and his groin doesn't grab or tug, he'll head to New Orleans for a rehab start next week. According to team sources, Oswalt will be throwing full bore tomorrow, which sounds a bit unusual. You'll often hear bullpen sessions like this called "touch and feel," meaning they throw at about 80% and try to hit their spots while going through just less than what they'd do in a game. Oswalt is being very aggressive with his rehab, which is a double-edged sword.

  • Randy Johnson took a big step in his rehab with a good bullpen session, but more importantly, he had only minimal swelling afterwards. He's due to have one more session before heading out on that long trip from Phoenix to Tucson.

  • BP intern Jason Grady just called me with bad news for Angels fans: while running to first, Brad Fullmer "went down in a heap" and grabbed at his right knee. Word from the Angels is that Fullmer ruptured his patellar tendon and that he's headed to surgery no later than Monday. The muscular Fullmer is done for the season.

  • While in St. Louis, it was interesting to see Scott Williamson down in the bullpen, throwing a couple pitches, talking to Don Gullett, and then throwing a bit more. At some point, something clicked. I wish I could say I saw what the difference was, but the motion got smoother, the ball got heavy, and according to the Cincinnati Post, Williamson feels like he's throwing the ball much better. Keep your eye out for that.

  • Matt Morris is having obvious problems with his shoulder. His motion is far from smooth and while he was able to pitch well enough to win behind seven runs of support, he had serious problems keeping the ball low. The problem doesn't appear serious, but one that may be best described as nagging. I also got to watch Jason Isringhausen throw--and while his motion is still far from ideal, he was bringing it. Full credit to Izzy and the Cards staff for getting him back. Now, the battle is keeping him back.

  • Quick Cuts: The Indians are close to calling up Cliff Lee. Now completely recovered from an abdominal strain, Lee is pitching well. Vic Martinez should be close behind him...Mike Piazza will begin "baseball activities" on July 1st. Assuming a normal rehab period, we should see him around the All-Star break...Alex Sanchez broke his finger on a head-first slide. A decision on the DL is delayed to see if he'll be able to grip a bat...For those that asked about my deliberately vague reference about Allen Barra a few days ago, here's more info...Cliff Floyd was out of Thursday's game, but the status of his bad achilles is no different. He'll miss time occasionally throughout the season...Kevin Goldstein of Baseball America wrote in to let me know that Josh Beckett went 66 pitches in what is surely his last rehab start, striking out the last six batters he faced...I leave for one day and Eric Hinske comes back...No, I'm still not worried about Mark Prior's pitch counts. I am getting a bit concerned where his innings are headed.

  • The NBA Draft proves to me a couple things: with the right promotion, people can get excited about watching Maciej Lampe and Sofoklis Schortsanitis. I'd like to see anyone argue that people can care about Lampe or Schortsanitis or even Chris Bosh any more than they do Delmon Young, Chris Lubanski, or Xavier Paul. Baseball has exactly zero excuses for not making their draft a show, just like every other league.

Thanks for all the feedback on the Sports Agent edition of Baseball Prospectus Radio, which was posted in the Baseball Prospectus Radio archive. This week's edition should be just as good, featuring Jim Bouton and everyone's favorite feature, me bitching with no one to stop my ranting!

Related Content:  Baseball Prospectus Radio

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