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April 7, 2004

Under The Knife

Twin Killings

by Will Carroll

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As I sat at last night's Indianapolis book event, I wondered if I'd be able to just enjoy a margarita after a great night of talking baseball. I didn't even make it to the end of the signing, though, without the Nokia blowing up with news of injuries. So here I am, your faithful servant, to break down the breakdowns and hit you with the hurt. Maybe Thursday will be quieter... it's a longer drive back from Cincinnati and the cell coverage isn't so good on the way back.

So, powered by that imaginary salt and tequila elixir (Hey, Chris, is there anywhere I can get one in Chicago?), on to the injuries:

  • I've often said that fractures aren't as bad as they look. They heal on a normal schedule, are very predictable, and often have little or no after-effect. Granted, there are counter-examples like Jermaine Dye, but for the most part, fractures are preferable to ligament tears. That said, they're still painful to watch and even more painful to experience--as Dmitri Young could attest. Young took some of the joy out of the Tigers now-epic two-game win streak when he suffered a fractured fibula during a slide on Tuesday. The injury is "non-displaced," meaning that the bone didn't shift significantly, and remained aligned. The range for a return to activity is six-to-12 weeks; I'd guess he'll be back on the lower end of that. Let's say eight weeks to be safe.

  • Johan Santana scared the heck out of everyone who drafted him (which includes a lot of the BP staff) when he was lifted from the game with the cryptic "forearm spasms" on Tuesday. Word from Minnesota is that it's not related to his minor elbow surgery from last fall, but there's not really a solid reason for why it happened. He lost his grip first, but then went into spasm and was removed. The biggest question is how quickly the will spasm stop. Once that's controlled, they'll go to work on finding a cause.

  • Scarier for the Twins was the injury to Joe Mauer. He first injured his knee making a sliding attempt on a pop foul, but really seemed to hurt himself when he was held up rounding third. With the new turf and a deceleration injury, the biggest worry is an ACL injury, but this doesn't look like the classic "turf monster" mechanism. The injury will be evaluated tomorrow, which indicates some swelling. After Mauer's morning MRI, there's some good news and bad news: It's not an ACL, it's a meniscus, which is good news. The bad news is that he'll miss the better part of April recovering from a scope on his knee. This does have some implications for his career long term.

  • The Dodgers are quickly addressing the mechanical problems that have cropped up with Hideo Nomo. The shoulder surgery he had this offseaon has thrown his complex motion out of whack. We'll see if Jim Colborn can piece things back together, but don't be surprised if Nomo has to come out of the rotation for a time while he's reconfigured.

  • The Indians are waiting to make a decision on Ben Broussard. A serious ankle sprain looks to put him on the shelf for 10 days, but team staff is hoping that the swelling will come down by the end of the week. If not, they'll likely DL him with a retro move and bring someone up who can outslug Lou Merloni. Broussard shouldn't have any problem once he returns.

  • Doctor shopping may be a crime for Rush Limbaugh, but Scott Speizio likes the third opinion on his back. After hearing some worst-case scenarios, Speizio's happy with the most recent doctor, David Hanscom from the Sun Valley Spine Institute, who doesn't believe that he has an impinging herniation, but instead has a soft tissue injury. Speizio still has a ways to go before returning, but this change in diagnosis significantly alters his prognosis, assuming it is correct.

  • First, he was demoted to the pen, but now it looks like Shane Reynolds won't even be able to handle that reduced role. A severely inflamed rotator cuff has put him on the DL, and surgery hasn't been ruled out. Reynolds looked terrible for much of the spring, so perhaps he was hiding soreness. That would certainly explain how his mechanics got so far out of whack that he was bumped from the rotation.

  • If you were expecting Larry Walker back when first eligible to come off the DL, well... I don't know what made you think that. A notorious slow healer, Walker is coming along at his own pace from a groin injury. The Rockies are being extremely conservative with the rehabilitation, not allowing him to do much of anything, and certainly nothing baseball related. His conditioning will be in question and he may need a rehab stint to get his bat ready, so don't expect much until May. On the bright side, this gives us all more time to snicker at the name "Kit Pellow."

  • The Giants' anticipate bringing Robb Nen off the DL in about two weeks, according to a nice article at Giants.com. Check out the classic picture of Stan Conte looking over Nen's shoulder, which is more than just metaphor for trainers. There's a chapter in Saving The Pitcher which details a typical (read: 20-hour) day for these unsung heroes. The Giants are being cautious and with Matt Herges, giving them some cushion in bringing Nen back properly.

  • Quick Cuts: Troy Glaus' shoulder doesn't seem to be affecting his hitting...Randy Johnson looked good, despite the loss. His mechanics were great, his release point was about a foot closer to the plate, and the TV gun had him at 97. If he comes away with no soreness, he'll just have to work on efficiency...If the Santana and Mauer injuries weren't bad enough, the Twins sent Grant Balfour to Fort Myers for more rehabilitation work. His new target is May 1. Rick Helling may beat him back...Manny Ramirez shouldn't miss much time, if any, after bruising his quad while sliding...How'd my comeback player of the year, Chan Ho Park, do in his first start? Not bad, not bad...Mark McLemore is ready to start a short rehab stint and should be in Oakland in late April.

Like Pedro in the sixth, I'm out of here. Back tomorrow.

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