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September 3, 2003

Under The Knife

Hiatus Happenings

by Will Carroll

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Five days without a UTK? That's almost criminal or, for me, a whole lot of catch-up. I have a good excuse--actually several. First, I was in Cleveland for an awesome Pizza Feed. Despite having no pizza, we had everything else. Chris Antonetti and Neal Huntington, assistant GMs for the Indians, came down and answered questions. Dave Cameron, Nate Silver and I took questions for an hour. We saw a great game in a wonderful facility. I had a great time meeting everyone, from Joe Ptak of the Cleveland Indians Report to everyone else. I'm always dumbfounded at just how smart and fun most people at the Feeds are. If you missed this one, you missed a good one. Your next chance comes up soon, this time in Toronto. Expect details soon, but if you're one of those anal-retentive day-timer kind of people, I'd jot down Sept. 26th. I can't write this without thanking the people that helped set this up and made Cleveland's first Feed--and certainly not its last--one of the best I've been to.

Not to go too bloggy on you, but last night's UTK was rained out. Literally. I had a roof leak on the wettest day in Indianapolis history (11 inches!) and my electrical system took quite a hit. All is back to reasonably normal today, there's a minimum of damage. If the taxpayers would only pay for a retractable dome to be built over my house, this wouldn't happen.

Powered by Pop Tarts, on to the injuries...

  • I had a big long section on the problems Barry Bonds experienced over the weekend, but none of them shed much light on the actual problem. The known facts are that Bonds hit a monstrous home run, got emotional, and then couldn't get his heart rate back down. A rate of 160 beats per minute isn't dangerous, but it's definitely concerning when it's not associated with physical activity and remains at that level for a period of time. As a precaution, Bonds was taken for observation and testing. He was released and cleared, returning to play on Monday. At first glance, what Bonds experienced looks much like a panic attack, something millions of people suffer with. With his recent emotional situation, it is no wonder that he might experience something like this. Add in mental and physical exhaustion and his performance becomes something almost super-human. Suffice it to say that Bonds gets the best of medical care, is monitored closely, and I hope that with time and a support system, he becomes more at peace with what has transpired.

  • The Giants took some small steps towards getting healthy. The much-delayed (for the right reasons) Ray Durham returned to the roster, while J.T. Snow returned to his platoon situation. With roster expansion at the same time, Felipe Alou now has a loaded bench and a deep, flexible roster to use through September, allowing him time to figure out how he wants to set things up for the playoffs.

  • It explains a lot that Shawn Green has been playing this season hurt. While he's been off, he's also such a stoic player that it's tough to tell when something's wrong, and the Dodgers aren't exactly forthcoming. Surgery isn't a definite, since sources say the bursitis is affecting his range of motion more than any minor labrum tear. With rest and treatment, expect Green to be able to return to form in 2004. The Dodgers also have Paul Lo Duca hurting. His jaw was sprained by a foul tip. Yeah, go ahead and touch your own jaw and figure the force it took to strain those thick ligaments.

  • My e-mail box was bursting when I got power back this morning, all wanting to know what I thought about the 130-pitch outing of Mark Prior. (Hey, Keith Woolner is the PAP expert around here!) One of my best Velocity Project sources sent me a stunning report and luckily, I had multiple sources (and a gun) on this one. Prior is establishing himself as one of those freaks that actually gets stronger as a game goes on. While he would hit 93 in the first couple innings, he was as high as 97--the highest I have him recorded--in the eighth. While I'm glad Dusty overrode Prior's desire to complete the game, I'm not tremendously concerned with Prior's health. I am more concerned about his short-term effectiveness, with short-term in this situation meaning the next two to three weeks. While flags fly forever, I think Kerry Wood should be required to stand in front of Dusty on every pitch Prior or Carlos Zambrano makes over 120. He doesn't need to say anything, just point to that fading scar on his right elbow. I think Dusty will get the point. I think.

  • Derek Jeter's ribcage injury is being downplayed, even in the normally frenetic New York media. While reports have him missing just a couple games, as you know by now, injuries like this tend to heal slowly, so pushing him back in before he's completely healed is a prescription for recurrence. If the injury was indeed so minor that he can return in just a couple days, he likely could be playing now and they're simply being as cautious as a team with a five-game lead can be.

  • The White Sox PTP yesterday was classic, breaking down what Roberto Alomar has really meant to the White Sox. He might mean less if the Sox can't keep Alomar's back from flaring up. He's having trouble running and bending, two things very important for a middle infielder. It should also sap some power and bat speed. In this division, that could be the difference. I know I keep saying this over and over, but in close races, the decisions teams make and the injuries they suffer are what gives one team a flag and another a trip home.

  • The Mets' young phenom, Jose Reyes, has a simple ankle sprain. The Grade II sprain will heal, but while Reyes could return in about three weeks, as with most things Mets in 2003, why bother? Reyes is much more important in 2004 and beyond than one week in late 2003. Cliff Floyd is another important player for 2004. His ankle/foot surgery went extremely well, with his Achilles tendon completely intact. He should be as close to 100% as he gets when Spring Training rolls around.

  • The Twins have been a problem area all year--banged up, poor roster construction, odd decisions--and yet they remain close in the AL Central. With Doug Mientkiewicz having a recurrence of his ongoing wrist problems and Jacque Jones dealing with a painful lower back (and Astroturf on his home field), the Twins will be juggling players around and making use of some of their callups, like Michael Cuddyer. They are closer to getting Eric Milton back--he's made his first rehab start in Ft. Myers, a team in the FSL playoffs--but his effectiveness remains a big question mark.

  • No, I didn't get any scoop from the Indians while I was there, though Cleveland remains one of the smartest, on-plan front offices in baseball. The Indians are likely getting Victor Martinez back soon (and yes, they intend to keep him at catcher), but they will probably not be getting Milton Bradley back. There's really nothing to be gained by pushing it, so why not get him healthy and ready for next year, when the team should be more competitive. The only downside is not showcasing that Bradley is healthy, since the team is loaded with outfielders and Bradley could be bait for some front-line pitching.

  • The Braves bullpen is a mess. But they have enough of a lead, enough time, and medical and field staffs that can deal with the problem. I'm a bit surprised that the Braves didn't do more at the trading deadline to fix it, but the pieces are in place and a bit of Mazzone magic could get them back on track. With Roberto Hernandez back, losing Kevin Gryboski doesn't hurt as much. The biggest question is John Smoltz and his timetable. I talked to my best Braves sources and they adamantly deny speculation that there is more to John Smoltz's problem than flexor tendinitis. They expect Smoltz back at the minimum or shortly thereafter, depending on scheduling and need.

  • The Cardinals didn't so much call up people from the minors as pull them off the DL en masse. The Cards got J.D. Drew, Eli Marrero, Joe Girardi, and Fernando Vina back in time for most of the important Cubs series. While Vina and Marrero are near 100%, Drew is still limited and Girardi figures to get minimal playing time. Additional depth helps teams with injuries and worn out pitching staffs, so September rosters are a big bonus for the Cards and the rival Astros.

  • Quick cuts: Late word that Vlad Guerrero--just off winning the NL Player of the Week award--has hyperextended his knee. I'll be following this one...If Leo Mazzone manages to turn Jaret Wright into a solid setup man, do we just go ahead and send him straight to Cooperstown?...Sean Casey's shoulder is supposedly fine, but he's been dealing with a groin problem...Mike Koplove is headed for more surgery and is done for the season...Mark Grudzielanek returned to the Cubs roster and fits right into a weak-hitting Cubs lineup. I have no idea why Sammy Sosa ever sits, especially in a game against the Cardinals...Jim Edmonds left the second game of the doubleheader with a bruised knee. Early reports say it's not serious...Brandon Lyon was activated from the DL and is available in the Red Sox pen...Trevor Hoffman should be back soon, but Rod Beck will likely remain the closer. Wow, there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.

Remember that with roster expansion and the end of the season near, teams stop using the DL as they do most of the season. Since they don't get roster relief and only hurt their insurance experience, DL transactions all but cease. It makes my life a bit tougher, injuries a little easier to hide, and most of the regular sources may miss a few more.

For now, just think different. I'll be back tomorrow--the Knife never sleeps because injuries don't either. For some reference, my "season" e-mail file which started on Feb. 1 just went over 10,000 e-mails...and those are just the ones I've sent.

Related Content:  Back,  Roster Construction

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