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April 19, 2004

Under The Knife

Misinformation

by Will Carroll

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While you're reading this, I'll be in Wrigley Field. I should have a ton more information for you regarding Mark Prior, Mike Remlinger, and Ken Griffey, but more on that later. Luckily, the iBook will allow me to finish up two major projects as I journey up to Chicago--gotta love technology. I'm also hoping to pick up some more Peet's coffee so that I can finish those projects!

For today, let's get on to the injuries...

  • The Braves have been able to continue playing on a high level because of their brilliant roster construction, but even that can only do so much. With J.D. Drew healing slowly (surprised? I didn't think so), they'll be challenged if Chipper Jones is forced to the DL. Jones strained his hamstring Sunday running down a ball hit into the corner. He left the game on a cart, unable to put any weight on the leg. A decision will be made tomorrow, but I can't give Braves fans much hope. This is an example of how the cascade concept can apply to a team. Jones was playing through a minor hamstring strain, missing only a few games last week, as Drew was healing. Eli Marrero will certainly see more at-bats, as will DeWayne Wise if Drew cannot return. For his part, Drew anticipates being back in the lineup Tuesday.

  • Rafael Furcal returned to the field on Sunday with a bang. After missing several games with a back strain, Furcal replaced an ejected Marcus Giles and promptly stole a pair of bases. Furcal should be back at shortstop for the Braves' next game. Back injuries are notoriously recurrent, but seeing Furcal run easily is certainly a positive development.

  • While Arn Tellem tries to get Frank Thomas more money off the field, Thomas is limping on the field. The Big Hurt appears to have a hurt in his hamstring, leaving the game after pulling up trying to leg out a double. As a DH, it's tough to gauge the timeline for this injury without more information, but early quotes from Thomas indicate that he felt a "pop" and feels that he's out for at least a few days before a determination can be made. The ChiSox are also dealing with Jose Valentin's strained hamstring. Valentin left the game in the seventh inning after straining the muscle running to first. He's out for a few days minimum.

  • Few conditions are as painful and as misunderstood as migraine headaches. Angel Berroa was placed on the DL after a series of tests, including a spinal tap, could not pinpoint a cause. Doctors will continue to work with Berroa to try to find the causation and relieve the horrible symptoms. The Royals are already thin up the middle with Desi Relaford already on the DL. Worse, Relaford probably won't be ready when he's eligible to come off the DL later this week. The Royals will make do with Tony Graffanino, Mendy Lopez, and Double-A call-up Andres Blanco.

  • The Mets are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With Jose Reyes and Cliff Floyd likely to make their returns to the lineup in late April, the Mets will finally put the team they anticipated fielding out on the grass. Reyes will play in some simulated games, then a few rehab games with Triple-A Norfolk, then should be back next Monday or so. Floyd is eligible to come off the DL next Monday as well. The news isn't as positive for Scott Erickson. Still experiencing hamstring problems, Erickson will need a couple rehab starts and may not have a rotation slot to come back to by mid-May.

  • The Yankees are doing a little bit of roster shenanigans while they sort out what they're going to do. The recent folk-hero status of Bubba Crosby made life tough on Kenny Lofton, so an injury to Lofton put him on the DL quickly. The Yanks were already looking for someone to take Lofton off their hands, like the White Sox, perhaps.

  • If your one skill is running fast, a strained groin is nearly the worst thing that can happen. Alex Sanchez strained his groin while running the bases Sunday, apparently severely. Sanchez hopped about halfway to second and collapsed once he reached the base. He was helped off the field. Sanchez made a good recovery from his brutal ankle injury in 2002, so he can heal. The question is, will the Tigers realize he's not that good while he's gone?

  • I think I've figured it out. Last year when Kerry Wood went 141 pitches, it started out very similarly to his 131-pitch outing on Saturday. He was around 110 pitches and went into the inning at a high count, but above the velocity threshold. When Wood put up high pitch counts, it was due to that one extra inning where his count exploded. Dusty seems unable to anticipate the likelihood of what Wood's pitch count will be after the next inning. Wood's 16.6 P/IP is very similar to his 2003 number of 16.8. Doing simple, Will-level math, it was inevitable that Wood would cross the 120-pitch mark that the Cubs watch and likely that he would approach 130. In other words, Dusty's doing the same thing he did last year.

  • This story on Mark Prior just shows me how much more work I have to do. In jumbling quotes around to make the most alarmist case possible, the unnamed author of the article shows a complete disregard for medical facts. Prior may have a minor elbow ailment (noted by Jayson Stark and well-known around these parts), but the author also neglects to note that the Cubs are dealing with two similar injuries that would shed light on what Prior is going through. Mike Remlinger is coming back from shoulder surgery, taking more time than the Cubs expected to return, even causing some to say that Remlinger may miss the season (expect him back in June.) Mark Grudzielanek is out for now with an Achilles injury, as is Nomar Garciaparra. The injury is slow-healing, doesn't respond well to much beyond rest, and is notoriously unpredictable. Add this up and it's easy to see why the Cubs are being extremely cautious with their most valuable player. What's not easy to see is why no one else seems to understand this.

  • Nick Johnson began some work in Extended Spring Training this week and could be back for the Expos' 'real' home opener next week. Some reports suggest Johnson could be back more quickly, but it depends on the weather for the remaining road trip through New York and Philly. The Expos could certainly use something resembling some hitting, given their recent travails.

  • Quick cuts: Ray Durham returned to the Giants' lineup on Sunday, avoiding the DL despite a strained quad...Chris Capuano has a mildly strained quad and may miss his next start...The Pirates are showcasing Kris Benson. Another couple healthy, effective starts should get him out of PNC Park...If Mike Piazza continues to look so awkward at 1B, I'm unsure how much benefit the Mets are getting by playing him there. The difference in injury chance is significant between C and 1B, but that assumes that the player can actually play the position...Larry Walker found a body on his property. No truth to the rumor that Walker is trying Dr. Frankenstein techniques to return from the DL...Jason Stanford will miss only one start. The tenderness in his forearm isn't considered serious...Jerry Hairston is making good progress and should be back in early May for the hot Orioles.

Back tomorrow, watching the defectives.

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