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September 12, 2003

Under The Knife

The Night Shift

by Will Carroll

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I'm running late (more on this at the bottom, if you care to read it), but I do want to mention that I'll be speaking at Indiana University in Kokomo on September 25th. I'll have more details soon, but if you're in the area, I'd love to have some friendly faces in the crowd. It's not a normal engagement for me--speaking on journalism--so it could be quite interesting.

Powered by ringing ears and some new coffee, on to the injuries...

  • Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! OK, it doesn't work as well in UTK as it does for monster truck rallies and mud bog races, but Sunday is the day that many Twins fans have been waiting for. After serious knee surgery, it didn't look like Eric Milton would be back in 2003, but on Sunday Milton will get the start, right in the heart of the most important stretch of games for the Twins all year. Milton has been mediocre in rehab starts, but has had solid command and velocity. He'll supplant Carlos Pulido from the rotation, but will be on an innings limit when he faces the Indians.

  • The Cubs don't need an injury, and Matt Clement's came at the worst time--right in the midst of a no-hitter (yes, Lee, I know, I know...). Clement's strained calf was enough to throw his control off almost completely, so a bullpen session tomorrow will go a long way towards knowing if he'll be ready for his next start. All indications are that he will be ready to go.

  • The Braves bullpen is a bit of a mess right now, but honestly, who cares? The division is wrapped up, and they look like they'll have home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. Without John Smoltz and Darren Holmes, the pen looks pretty bare, but again, as long as they have those two in the playoffs, what happens in mid-September really doesn't matter. Holmes will be back as early as this weekend and could find himself in the titular "closer" role until Smoltz returns.

  • The Lance Painter experiment (Tuesdays on UPN!) ended early. In fact, it lasted only one batter. Trying to come back, Painter faced Todd Helton. If you could pick one hitter to face, Helton's probably near the top of the list of the ones who you wouldn't want. Painter's calf problem was finally diagnosed as a partially torn achilles tendon. He should be ready for Spring Training.

  • The Marlins have Tommy Phelps on the roster, but I'm not sure why. Despite reports of tendinitis in his elbow, Phelps is having problems with bone spurs. The spurs affect him so much that he has pain simply straightening his arm, let alone trying to pitch. Phelps will continue to try and get back to a place where he can pitch, but I don't see how he can do that before having his elbow cleaned out.

  • Reports coming out of Los Angeles are varied on Hideo Nomo's next start, but don't count on the Dodgers to clear anything up. Nomo's shoulder tendinitis will probably be the baseball equivalent of a game-time decision, with Edwin Jackson at the ready. If the Dodgers weren't still in the Wild Card chase, I'd like to think they would shelve Nomo, but this is September and there are times when the rules of injury analysis go out the window.

  • Sean Casey is struggling with groin problems and might miss much of the upcoming Cubs series. Manager Dave Miley also made an indication that Casey would miss most day games, due to the inexplicable fact that he has a harder time getting loose then. No, I have no stinkin' idea what he means by that, or what the reason might be. The groin will clear up with rest--something that Casey won't get enough of until his season is over. It shouldn't affect him next year.

  • Let's do Quick Cuts, Tribe style: Matt Lawton is done for the season with a finger injury, but he'll avoid surgery...Bob Wickman will be back in 2004 and his performance in rehab has Eric Wedge thinking he'll return to the closer role...Wedge also had something that I think will end up in TWiQ. When C.C. Sabathia was puking from his toes due to food poisoning, Wedge said "He was a man about it." I've never seen manly vomiting, and frankly, don't think I'm missing anything.

  • Best wishes to Al Newman.

Despite my editors' best efforts to make sure this doesn't seem like something I do the night before, I think everyone realizes that UTK is written 10-to-12 hours before publication. Last year on this date, I wondered what to write, and ended up just concentrating on baseball. Yesterday, I gave the Blue Man link. Tonight, in my "real life," I did something I think was even better: I headed out and saw the Pat McGee Band. It was a horrible quandary--both PMB and the Drive-By Truckers were in town on the same day. This is Indy, so we don't get good shows all that often. I mean, the next good show in this town is the King's X/Fishbone show in late October.

But back to point: I went to the show and it was amazing; the crowd sang along with every song, and college girls danced and drank and made me feel old. I'm not to the point where I'm on-stage with the band like Peter Gammons, but maybe someday. But tonight, two years after the day no one will forget, I danced and sang along. That was enough, and it felt right.

I came home and watched Letterman, where Dave and his assistant "Monty" (who I have a secret crush on, especially when she showed she could catch) played catch for a bit. Dave showed later that the gloves they were using had autographs from Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams on them. And he was using them--how beautiful is that? Sometimes the world doesn't seem right, but sometimes, just for moments--seeing Dave play catch with Ted on his hand or when Pat McGee hit the opening chords to "Rebecca"--it's just perfect.

Have a great weekend. I'll be out watching high school football on Friday and watching the Cubs the rest of the weekend. Oh yeah, and I'll have a great Baseball Prospectus Radio show on Saturday morning. I'll be back next week.

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