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July 9, 2003

Under The Knife

More Than Meets the Eye

by Will Carroll

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I had 600 emails--really, 600 even--when I came in early Tuesday morning. Sure, some were spam, some were from meetup.com, and some were in regards to the Charity Auction. Most, predictably, were regarding Corey Patterson. Saying it was mild was an obvious misstep on my part and proof that seeing an injury doesn't tell the full story. Patterson's hyperextension tore his left ACL and medial meniscus. Early reports had a torn MCL as well, but those proved false. Patterson's done for the season and will go under the knife in around a week. The best case scenario is that he's fully recovered around next year's spring training and resumes patrolling center in Wrigley.

  • While George cried, Pedro Martinez scared the bejeezus out of many Yankee fans by blasting both Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano in the hand with 90 mph pitches. Martinez is taking one up and in from the media, but neither pitch had the earmarks of a "purpose pitch." Soriano especially was all but standing on the plate, leaning out and nearly daring someone to pitch inside to his freaky freakness. Both players were held out of tonight's game (Jeter did pinch-hit late), but Soriano's is much more problematic. While neither has a fracture that showed up in X-rays, we can look back to Curt Schilling as an example. Soriano is unable to make a fist--much like Schilling--and will likely need more time and tests before we have a clear picture on what his prognosis is.

  • Curt Schilling is scheduled to return to the Diamondbacks rotation on Saturday. He cruised through his last rehab start, going 97 pitches, but showing some fatigue toward the end of the outing. He was very effective and had no ill effects after the game. Remember that Schilling's injury was a simple fracture that tends to heal cleanly and predictably with no lasting effects.

  • Randy Johnson had a mild setback during his rehab from knee surgery. According to the D'backs web site, Johnson had swelling and pain in the knee, requiring an injection. It's unclear how this affects the timetable for his return, but it certainly doesn't bode well for his ability to stay healthy once he does make it back.

  • Kirk Rueter left his start Wednesday after only 30 pitches with what is being listed as a strained pitching shoulder. He'll have more tests in the upcoming days. This is a major blow to the Giants staff and will have an immediate impact. The Giants had hoped to get Jason Schmidt some extra rest to take the sting off his heavy workload, but Jim Brower--who would have had a spot start on Schmidt's scheduled day of Thursday--was forced into yesterday's game. Depending on the severity of Rueter's injury, the Giants are likely to still find Schmidt the rest. Late word from Stan Conte of the Giants indicates that the preliminary MRI looks good.

  • Cliff Floyd continues to circle the drain, but my Mets sources say that he does not intend to end his season early unless forced. His latest problem keeping him out is not the achilles tendon, but a tendon in his wrist. He'll rest a couple days and if there's no improvement, he'll have a cortisone injection. I'm hoping for more info in the next couple days on this.

  • There's some progress for Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino in Houston. Both are coming back from wrist problems--Kent with a sprained wrist, Vizcaino with a fracture. Kent still thinks he should be back shortly before the ASB despite not making it through batting practice. Vizcaino is getting ready to begin rehab after late June surgery, but he's still at least six weeks from a return.

  • Omar Vizquel should head out on a rehab assignment by the end of the week. His recovery from knee surgey has been normal and he had no problems taking grounders or participating in some light running. Assuming no setbacks, he should be ready to play when teams return from the ASB. Vizquel should be exactly what people expect from him when he comes back.

  • Phil Nevin heads back to the bus leagues soon to start his rehab. He'll go to Single-A Lake Elsinore (home of really cool hats) and then to Triple-A Portland for about 15 combined games before a planned return to San Diego on July 29th. The date is significant because it is before the non-waiver trading deadline and there's some rumor of a deal to the Dodgers.

  • The Rangers medical staff had an end run made on them by Chan Ho Park and his agent, Scott Boras. Boras brought Park, who has suffered with back problems for the last two miserable seasons, to a specialist, Dr. Robert Watkins, outside the organization. The last time Boras sent someone to this doctor, Kevin Brown had pretty good results. If Park's problems can be traced back to the changes in his workouts made by former coach Oscar Acosta, it's possible that correcting the physical problem could return Park to something resembling a major league pitcher. Watkins has great results (including Brown and Randy Johnson back in '96), so things for Park are looking up for the first time in quite a while. My only questions: why did the Rangers wait so long, and will moves like this lead to more "medical free agency" for players?

  • Quick Cuts: Sean Casey left Tuesday's game with a strained groin. No word at deadline on the severity. He was replaced at first by Adam Dunn...Octavio Dotel left Tuesday's game with what was termed a "mild hamstring strain"...I spoke with Jack McKeon at Monday's Cubs game--asking him about the Marlins keeping Dontrelle Willis out of the ASG. McKeon had what Scott McCauley called a "telling pause." I'll let you hear it on BPR...The Jays were at least honest about keeping Roy Halladay off the mound...Another setback for Denny Neagle, who reported soreness after his last start. His velocity was way off, which is seldom a good sign...Shawn Chacon made it through a bullpen session with no pain or swelling. He's on track to come back just after the ASB.

Here's an opening for you: if you're interested in being on this week's BPR, we're taking "Radio Mailbag" questions. When? 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Indianapolis time on Thursday. Call me at 1-800-TALK-2-90 and the best questions will make it on the air Saturday.

This week's edition of Baseball Prospectus Radio is definitely one you're going to want to hear; the meeting I had with Jim Palmer was...interesting to say the least, and not at all what I expected. The show's co-host, Greg Rakestraw, had to just about stand on my foot to keep me from--as he said--"attacking the Hall of Famer" and spitting out the Principal's speech in Billy Madison.

Related Content:  Back,  Inside The Park

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