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July 24, 2003

Under The Knife

Nevin Returns

by Will Carroll

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There seems to be some sort of cosmic injury analysis karma at work some weeks; when I write a ton one night, I usually get a slow day later in the week. For every burst of writing that surrounds a flurry of injuries, there are slow nights where I can sit around watching baseball rather than staring at my phone, waiting for someone to call and give me bad news. I have a dream that one day, there are a complete complement of games and not a single injury. I don't think that anywhere in the geometry and art of baseball there can be a way to completely avoid traumatic injuries, but my dream day is possible. It will take great medical staffs throughout baseball, well-conditioned players, a lot of education, and a bit of luck, but it's possible.

  • Phil Nevin returned yesterday slightly ahead of schedule after recovering from shoulder surgery. He started in right field--the same position he was playing when he injured himself in Spring Training--despite numerous reports saying that he's uncomfortable there. Tension between Nevin and young third baseman Sean Burroughs is said to be palpable, making rumors of a Nevin trade gain some traction. Nevin seems to have recovered completely from surgery, and by undergoing the procedure, is at less of a risk than the other players--most notably Derek Jeter and Ken Griffey Jr.--who suffered similar injuries this season.

  • The Angels placed Troy Glaus on the DL with a shoulder contusion, marking the first time the deceptively quick third baseman has hit the list. Glaus was injured during an awkward fall while trying to field a bunt. The retro move puts Glaus out until early August and squeezes some of the flexibility out of the Angels roster that Mike Scioscia values. Glaus should heal in time to come off when eligible and the injury should have little, if any lingering effect.

  • Results from Mark Prior's MRI were released and the findings were as expected. There is no structural damage with no inflammation beyond the norms expected from a deep, traumatic muscular bruise. Having watched his collision with Marcus Giles more times than I wish to count, it is no surprise that Prior is still feeling pain, and public pronouncements from Dusty Baker seem ill-informed. Prior is expected to be able to return to the rotation near the point where he is eligible to return from the DL, but the Cubs may elect to give him a bit of extra time. This extra rest, if given, would serve to both heal his arm completely and to protect him from high workload he has endured thus far in his first full season. Prior still projects to finish above 200 innings on the year, but minor injuries to non-critical structures often turn out to be "blessings in disguise" for younger pitchers.

  • With Kenny Lofton heading to town, Tom Goodwin's hamstring injury becomes less problematic for the Cubs. Goodwin would be forced to the bench anyway and current backup Trenidad Hubbard can remain in that role until Goodwin returns. More worrisome to Cub fans are suggestions that Hee Seop Choi may be getting a ticket to Iowa sometime soon. Since returning from a concussion and cervical strain, Choi has hit poorly, leading some to suggest he is not fully healed. In the interim, Eric Karros has impressed Dusty Baker with his streakiness and provenveteranness.

  • With Juan Gonzalez headed to the DL, there is a general sense of throwing up of hands in the markets where this trade was being considered. Headlines like "No Way To Get Juan Gone" dominate, but in fact, there is no explicit rule prohibiting the trade of players who are on the disabled list. Baseball is a market of both caveat emptor and advantage. Injury is simply another data point in assessing player performance; and a smart organization can use this information and their medical staff to turn this into an advantage. The Yankees have shown their willingness to deal with Tommy John pitchers, and the Royals could use Gonzalez's mild calf strain to reduce the already reduced price they would need to pay for Gonzalez. If the Royals, for instance, could ascertain that Gonzalez would return on August 5th, why should that stop them from trading for him? In that same vein, the Yankees don't seem scared of picking up two injured players in return for Jeff Weaver, a rumor that will pick up steam in the next few days.

  • Bob Brenly seems to be keeping track of the Velocity Project, at least in regards to Curt Schilling. Schilling's velocity was off slightly in his last start, but Brenly's assertions that Schilling is normally at 98 mph are ludicrous. (Why can I not say the word "ludicrous" without thinking of Mike Tyson?)

  • Quick Cuts: Rusty Greer is out for the 2003 season and his career is in serious jeopardy already. Greer will have elbow ligament replacement surgery later this week. Best of luck to a player that almost literally left it all out on the field...The Royals' ace Jeremy Affeldt made his scheduled start and had no problems with the blisters he developed in his last start. The Royals don't think there were any additional problems during his start on Wednesday, but limited him to 100 pitches anyway (he went 94)...Kazuhiro Sasaki's rehab continues to accelerate. He had another bullpen session and looks to return in early August...Melvin Mora returned to the Orioles lineup for the first time since being hit in the face with a ball. He is still challenged by occasional spells of dizziness.

And for those of you who live in the Midwest like myself, don't forget about our Baseball 101 seminar on July 29. For $20, you get the seminar, picnic-style meal, and a ticket to a ballgame in the park dubbed "America's Best" as the Indy Indians (Triple-A Brewers) take on Richmond (Triple-A Braves). Watch the game and enjoy cold beverages with a BP author, and hey...maybe you'll learn something too. For reservations, contact the Indy Indians at 317-269-3545, ext 294 or email me at the link below.

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