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August 4, 2003

Under The Knife

Bumps, Bites, and Bruises

by Will Carroll

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I'm not writing tonight. [Editor grumbles and points to contract.] I'm just not. I just got ESPN HD and I'm watching the Giants spank the Reds. I've been to Great American Ballpark and I've seen the Giants up close, but this is so realistic that I don't think I'm ever leaving the house. [Editor roughs Will up a bit and reminds him that with his laptop, he can watch and write.]

OK, I guess I AM writing. Still, let me highly recommend high definition TV. Once you see it, you'll be ruined for regular TV, whether it's Barry Bonds staring in against Jimmy Haynes or a rerun of The Sopranos. As much as I hate Comcast, I love them for bringing me HD sports, movies, and high-speed internet.

  • I got one of the oddest, angriest emails this week. I seldom get email from women, so this took me even more off guard. People often accuse me of getting things wrong, which does occasionally happen, and I'm usually the first to admit it. In the case of Roy Oswalt, I'm not wrong, and while the mainstream coverage has been a bit confusing, the coverage of the injury that I've seen has been pretty dead on. It's a matter of understanding what has been said and written.

    After hearing from Astros Assisant GM Tim Purpura, the truth of the Oswalt injury is this: the muscle sheath is torn, not the muscle. There have been conflicting reports on what tore and what happened, but according to Purpura, the muscle is neither torn nor protruding from the sheath. This is a positive report, but doesn't change the timeframe for the soonest possible return--one month--or the likelihood that Oswalt will need surgery, either in the off-season or before. Let's also keep in mind that due to the chronic nature of the groin injuries, there is likely a great deal of scar tissue and weakness. Once the surgery occurs, Oswalt will not only have to rehab the groin, but learn new mechanics. It will be a very important off-season for the Astros ace. Finally, to my new email 'pal,' Jesse--a muscle is not structural, it's functional. Special thanks to Robert Henslee of KTRH, Houston.

  • It's tough to think that losing Mark Grudzielanek hurts the Cubs, but really, he's been playing like that one guy every year that seems to have been possessed or taken over by one of those pods. His .082 MLVr will be replaced by Ramon Martinez and his .001 MLVr for at least three weeks while Grudz recovers from a hairline fracture to his fifth metacarpal--the bone on the outside of your hand that you'd strike with a karate chop. Grudz was hit by a Miguel Batista pitch and left the game immediately. The injury also tells us that Bobby Hill is in all likelihood headed to Pittsburgh given that the Cubs called up Augie Ojeda instead of Hill.

  • The strange saga of Kris Benson took perhaps a final twist when reports came back from Jim Andrews and Craig Morgan. Both reports agreed with the Pirates own findings that Benson has no structural damage in his painful shoulder. Andrews did state that there were some problems with strength and stamina, while Morgan felt that Benson's scapular range of motion needed work. Aside from these minor quibbles, the two experts agreed with the Pirates physician, Patrick DeMeo, putting Benson in a very awkward position. Already on the outs with the rebuilding team, this is fast becoming one of those situations where neither the team nor the player will get much more out of the relationship. Look for Benson to hit the waiver wire and potentially move this season.

  • David Bell will make a big step towards returning this Tuesday as he takes BP and fields grounders. Barring any setbacks, the Phillies should have their big-ticket third baseman back by the weekend. Back injuries, as I'm sure regular readers know by now, are very tricky and subject to recurrence. The Phillies will also be without Bobby Abreu for just a couple games. He injured his leg slightly while sliding. Details are sketchy on what the injury is exactly and the Phillies didn't return my calls for clarification by deadline. From descriptions, it is likely a bruise, cut, or abrasion that is causing the pain and noticeable limp. It is not considered serious, but would obviously affect the quality of his play.

  • Loyal UTK readers from the Land of 10,000 Lakes report that Corey Koskie not only looked good in batting practice, he looked great. Several additional reports beyond our friends say that Koskie was bombing into the upper deck, running without apparent pain, and taking grounders. It looks good for Koskie to come off the DL early this week. There is also good news for the Twins with Lew Ford. Ford, coming back from a fractured forearm, is heading to the Twins spring training base of Ft. Myers to work with their rehab staff. While Ford may be ready to return in just a few weeks, the Twins have yet to figure out their roster, so his role remains unclear once available.

  • The timetable on Kaz Ishii is being widely reported as two weeks after he was placed on the DL with a sprained MCL. While this best case scenario would only cause him to miss two starts, the fly in the ointment is that Ishii has yet to have an MRI. One is scheduled for Monday and findings could obviously change if more damage is found. For the Dodgers, any missed time by any of their pitchers puts pressure on their anemic offense.

  • The legs aren't just for speed in baseball. For hitting, especially hitting for power, the legs are an absolute necessity. When looking at players coming back from knee surgery, it's almost like following a Tommy John case. With TJS, the velocity comes back, followed by the command. With knee reconstructions, the speed comes back, then the power. I mention this because Chris Snelling, the Aussie version of Len Dykstra, is starting to hit for power. While Pat Gillick did nothing at the deadline, Snelling could be a big addition down the stretch.

  • The O's are being patient with Melvin Mora, but a decision on the DL will be made early this week. Sources inside the O's organization say it's about a 50/50 proposal at this point. Mora's wrist is the only problem now that he is fully recovered from the cuts and bruises suffered when he was hit in the face with a pitch.

  • Quick Cuts: The Mets have announced that Mike Piazza will return to action on Friday with a short minor league rehab assignment, and a return to the Mets lineup on August 12th...Russ Branyan will miss a month after a high ankle sprain. This year has been an almost complete loss for the slugger...Nice to see an umpire step up and admit that he was wrong. Most of the time, they aren't...Trevor Hoffman threw off a mound for the first time over the weekend. While it's becoming more likely that he will be able to return in some capacity this season, I still don't see why the Padres would let him...Jimmy Haynes got shelled in his Sunday night start, then mentioned his back has been stiff again...Jose Lima will only be on the DL for the minimum, but a good start by Jimmy Gobble is giving the Royals plenty of pitching options.

Ah...now back to the glowing light of ESPN HD. See you tomorrow with more bumps, bites, and bruises.

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