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April 14, 2004

Under The Knife

Cub Cud

by Will Carroll

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I won't bore you with details of my concert experience, but thanks to all who seemed to miss me yesterday. I'll start this report by reminding you that every time you watch Barry Bonds, you're likely to see something amazing.

On to the injuries...

  • The daily Mark Prior report is simple: unchanged. The Cubs laughed off Lawrence Rocca's suggestion that Prior's injury was really to his elbow and that he was headed for Tommy John surgery. Dusty Baker did everything but call Rocca a liar in comments after the game, so let's try and put this to rest: Prior's arm is simply not game-ready, as it would be for a typical pitcher starting spring training. It will take him between four and six weeks to get ready once the Achilles tendon is asymptomatic. If Prior had a bum elbow, he wouldn't have played long toss in front of Christian Ruzich this winter and he wouldn't be doing towel drills.

  • The Cubs will be without Mark Grudzielanek for at least three weeks after an MRI showed fraying of his Achilles tendon. As with Prior, an Achilles is very difficult to get under control once tendinitis has set in. The acquisition of Todd Walker is looking very smart. The Cubs are also on the lookout for a shortstop with Alex Gonzalez struggling and Dusty Baker reportedly lacking confidence in Ramon Martinez in a starting role. While Orlando Cabrera's name comes up in rumors, Craig Counsell is a likelier target.

  • The Rangers are being careful with Mark Teixeira after he reported soreness in his oblique. Manager Buck Showalter knows how chronic oblique strains can be and is taking the guidance of his medical staff in order to keep the heavy-hitting "T-Rex" in the lineup. The Rangers are also hoping to get Brian Jordan back by the weekend. He's taking batting practice and running, so barring a setback, he should be able to meet that goal.

  • A torn quadriceps is never a good thing, but the injury to Cliff Floyd could have been much worse. An MRI on Floyd's injured leg showed a small tear, but it's possible he'll miss little more than the 15-day minimum. With all the discussion of Mike Piazza moving to first base, there's been little talk about protecting Floyd. Granted, this injury occurred on the bases, but Floyd is becoming a 120-game player at the upper end unless something drastic changes.

  • The Twins have enough problems, so Twins fans had to worry when Corey Koskie's back acted up again. With as many injuries as they're dealing with, the Twins are merely being cautious. Koskie had a hard time getting loose in cold weather and with Michael Cuddyer doing his best Tony Phillips imitation, there was no reason to push. Koskie should be available Wednesday.

  • With initial reports very confused out of Boston, the final word is that Scott Williamson has nothing wrong. The forearm tightness that made him unavailable on Monday didn't show in a Tuesday bullpen session. It looks like Terry Francona and the Red Sox medical staff were simply taking precautions, a smart early-season strategy.

  • Kevin Appier had no problems with his rehab start at Double-A. He's expected to start this weekend for the Royals, but his lack of velocity might be a problem against the Twins. Getting something from Appier would be a big boost for the Royals' iffy staff.

  • Old UTK pal Nick Neugebauer made his return to the mound in High Desert on Tuesday. He went only 17 pitches, but had no problems and showed good velocity according to reports. The Brewers insist his future is in the rotation, but I'm still convinced he'd be one heck of a set-up man.

  • John Sickels does a great job of breaking down Casey Kotchman, especially his long medical history. John points out that while Kotchman may be in good physical condition, he's considered "tight." Too many athletes and teams aren't taking stretching as seriously as they should be. It's perhaps the most important issue facing position players today.

  • Quick cuts: Jason Schmidt will open his major league season on Friday, helping out the Giants rotation...J.D. Drew has a strained hamstring, the result of protecting his painful knee. The strain is minor...To answer a lot of e-mails at once, no, I don't think Octavio Dotel is hurt, but I think he might be tipping his pitches. I need to see him more to be sure...Corey Patterson has a minor groin strain, but the Cubs will be careful with him, especially in cold weather...Eli Marrero will be called off his rehab assignment on Wednesday. He'll be a utility player for the Braves, but fantasy players are hoping he catches enough to qualify. Adam LaRoche should also be back in the Braves lineup...Ben Molina returned to the lineup for the Angels, pushing his brother to the bench...So much for the doctor that said he'd be out six months. Scott Spiezio may be back this weekend, pending a short stint at Tacoma...Think Fox was expecting a Tim Wakefield vs. Javier Vazquez start for their nationally-televised "Round One" telecast? Think they'll be surprised when they see how good both pitchers can be?

Back tomorrow with all the news that hurts to print.

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