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August 12, 2003

Under The Knife

The Conservative Approach

by Will Carroll

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There's no intro today. For once, I really don't want to talk about baseball. I sat in the shower earlier this morning and I still feel oily, like someone has poured something over me. That spinning sound you hear? Get some rest, Bart.

  • It only seems like the Reds spend more time in Beacon Orthopaedic Center than they do in Great American Ballpark. Austin Kearns will go under Tim Kremchek's knife on Thursday in order to diagnose and repair the lingering injury to the young outfielder's shoulder. This surgery will come over a month after Kearns last played, due to an unsuccessful attempt to rehabilitate the injury without surgical intervention. The results of the surgery will determine the timetable on the young star's return, but it will be a long winter of discontent for the Reds and their fans.

  • Every time you think you've heard everything, there's something else. Carlos Beltran missed time after hyperextending his elbow--and more time because he forgot to take his anti-inflammatories. I'd recommend one of the cool little pill reminders that I got my grandmother a couple years back from Sharper Image, but she didn't use it. Beltran got a good lecture and will probably not forget to take his pills. Expect him back in the lineup by Friday at the latest.

  • The Cardinals need pitching, and they could get some help soon. Matt Morris will throw a simulated game on Tuesday and the results will determine if he heads straight back into the Cards rotation or if he'll need one rehab start. Morris is lobbying to get right back in and will make his case from the mound. Russ Springer is also making progress and should be ready in the next couple weeks. He's recovering from nerve transposition surgery on his pitching elbow--an operation that's not as rare as it sounds, but not exactly routine either. If he can get just a couple good starts as the Cards struggle to hang on, he'll have been a good off-season acquisition for Walt Jocketty. The Cardinals are being extremely tight-lipped about J.D. Drew, who has been out of the lineup since Friday. There is some speculation that Drew may have cleared waivers and that Jocketty is working on a deal with the Mariners for Freddy Garcia, who HAS cleared waivers.

  • The Angels are fresh out of miracles, so Troy Glaus is heading to see Lewis Yocum for an opinion on his problematic shoulder. Conservative treatment and rest hasn't helped and continued soreness has ended a rehab assignment for the time being. Surgery is a possibility and there's a definite chance that Glaus is done for the season.

  • That said, Lew Yocum will be busy this week. Jeremy Giambi will visit him from Boston to get a second opinion. According to Giambi, Red Sox doctors found "things" in his shoulder and recommended surgery. Giambi has hardly been the player the Red Sox expected this season, but I'm not sure how much of his failure can be laid off on an injury and how much is what a friend of mine calls "Dom Dimaggio Syndrome."

  • David Wells had seen a back specialist recently, so I hope you weren't surprised when he left his start after just three innings on Monday. Wells left the team and headed back to New York to see that same specialist after the game. Comments from pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre were non-commital after the game, but unless Wells makes a quick recovery, he'll head to the DL in order to get healthy for September and beyond.

  • Milton Bradley had expected to be back in the lineup for the Indians Monday after missing the weekend's game with lower back pain. Instead, soreness during warm-ups led the Indians medical staff to pull back and keep Bradley out another day. They'll make another run at it tomorrow. Given their place in the standings, this conservative approach with a good young player makes a lot of sense, especially considering their options. The 2004 Indians will be loaded in the outfield, and one of the current starters--Bradley, Coco Crisp, or Jody Gerut--will likely be pushed aside by Alex Escobar or Grady Sizemore.

  • The Indians of 2004 might get Bob Wickman back, which given his massive contract, is some consolation. He'll get some innings in during August with Double-A Akron, then continue his rehab over the winter in preperation for spring training. His elbow should be fully healed by then, and the Indians bullpen, like the outfield, has a plethora of options, including Japanese hurler Kazuhito Tadano.

  • The MRI on Jeff Conine came back...confusing. Actually, the MRI came back fine, which causes the confusion. Conine is one of those players that seems to never be hurt, so he's not the type to say his arm is hurting when it's not, but MRI's are far from perfect, so not getting a result from the MRI means that the Orioles medical staff is right where they started: Conine's arm hurts and they're not sure what the best course of treatment is. In those cases, expect them to be conservative and hope that nature heals where science fails.

  • Why aren't the Pirates concerned that Pokey Reese isn't coming back this season? Because his likely replacement, Freddy Sanchez, is almost ready to take over. Unfortunately, Sanchez--like Reese--is unavailable for right now with a minor ankle injury. Expect him to get in about a week of games at Triple-A Nashville and then make his PNC debut, where he could be staying for quite a while.

  • Quick Cuts: Mark Kotsay is having treatments to try and keep playing through back spasms. The Padres will be conservative with their outfielder with nothing to play for in 2003...Melvin Mora will play soft toss on Tuesday, but there's no timetable for his return from the DL...Eli Marrero started a rehab assignment in Triple-A Memphis over the weekend. While he will return during the next Cards homestand on August 19th, he won't return to catching this season...Derrek Lee will miss a few more games with shoulder soreness related to his recent subluxation...Kaz Ishii did well in a bullpen session and will get the start Thursday when the Dodgers face the Marlins.

Don't forget about the Cleveland Feed signups and that Baseball Prospectus Radio is up and ready for you to listen to while filling out your TPS cover sheets at work. Hey, I even took out the commercials for you this week.

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