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April 21, 2004

Under The Knife

Hump Day Hurts

by Will Carroll

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I got a lot of e-mail on Wednesday about Rob Neyer's excellent article on the history of the slider. Rob did a fine job describing the history and even the mechanics, but at the end, he discusses the "general thinking" that the slider is significantly harder on the arm than other pitches. According to Dr. Glenn Fleisig and the research team at ASMI, this isn't so. Their research on the kinetics of various pitches shows that the slider does not significantly alter the kinetic forces on the arm as compared to a fastball. It is "harder" on the arm than a curveball, but the real danger comes when, as Rob says, the slider (or the close variants cut fastball and slurve) is thrown with a wrist snap. Science shows that it's not the pitches that are hurting our pitchers, it's how they throw them.

  • DMPU (Daily Mark Prior Update): The Cubs front office is not running around panicked in regard to Mark Prior. Prior, for his part, continues to work on building his arm strength and is continually moving toward his return. Given the current timetable, Prior should be making his one or two rehab starts in a few weeks and return in time for the first key series between the Cubs and Astros.

  • Other Cubs on the DL include Mike Remlinger and Mark Grudzielanek. Remlinger is a key part of the bullpen. His recovery from off-season shoulder surgery has him nearing a mound and about a month away from a competitive return. In the meantime, the Cubs appear to have a major find in Todd Wellemeyer. He throws 95 mph with textbook mechanics. Grudz is starting to take batting practice and should be back in the lineup early next week despite great work from Todd Walker.

  • I got a chance to see Ryan Wagner live for the first time. Admittedly, I didn't have a great angle on him, but he defines "violent delivery." There's a drastic whip, major scapular loading, and he ends very upright. Yesterday, it wasn't effective, but he's certainly had past success. I hope that he'll be able to work on that delivery while maintaining his effectiveness. To give the Reds fans out there some hope, the Reds have some good results down at Louisville and Chattanooga. It's not going to be too long before guys like Matt Belisle, Brandon Claussen, and Dustin Moseley crack the big league rotation.

  • Normally, any delay in bringing someone off the DL is a negative. When the first start back off the DL would be in Colorado with snow in the forecast, it's not so bad. Andy Pettitte will cede what was to be his first start to Brandon Duckworth. The decision was easy after he was not 100% after a bullpen session. "Mild twinge" is the word from Houston. "One more week" is my prognosis.

  • The Braves are holding out hope that Chipper Jones will not need to head to the DL as his hamstring heals. Getting J.D. Drew back in the lineup gives them some extra flexibility, but it will be how Jones responds to treatment that will force this decision one way or the other. Jones is said to have a "palpable defect" in his hamstring, meaning the muscle has torn so significantly that a trainer can actually feel the gap in the muscle where the tear occurred. As you can expect, that isn't a good sign.

  • Given the depth of the Angel outfield, giving Tim Salmon a night off from playing seems smart even with only a minor pain in his knee. Reports of significant swelling make me worry this is something more significant that could force some shuffling. The Angels also got good news on Brendan Donnelly. Their stud reliever could be back by mid-May.

  • The Rockies got some good news after Preston Wilson came off the operating table. Instead of repairing the meniscus, floating pieces of cartilage were removed. Those pieces were thought by the surgeons to be the major cause of the swelling and pain. Recovery time looks to be about a month, perhaps a bit more, meaning June 1 is the downside goal for Wilson.

  • Some thought that Jose Valentin heading to the DL may have opened the door for BP's #1 Prospect, Jeremy Reed, but the Sox will keep Reed down on the farm for just a bit longer. Pushing Valentin to the DL will give the team additional flexibility given the similar injury to Frank Thomas and their ability to make a call-up.

  • The last thing that Roberto Alomar needed was tacking an injury onto his struggles. A broken bone on the outside of his hand (fifth metacarpal for those more technically minded out there) after an HBP will likely take Alomar off the field and onto the DL. Early prognosis is eight weeks. Given his struggles, this could be the end of the road for Alomar.

  • Jose Reyes survived a game at extended spring training without a setback, so he'll take his tight hamstrings north to Norfolk for a rehab start. He remains on track to return next week as he continues to struggle with his flexibility and muscular conditioning. It seems to be the only thing holding him back from stardom.

  • The sad tale of Bud Smith continues. After throwing a no-hitter, he's never been the same. In Triple-A Scranton, he's back on the DL after only one short outing. One start is seldom enough to destroy a career like this, but the value of putting someone in a situation that could be so detrimental should be considered, no-hitter on the line or not.

  • Quick cuts: Robbie Hammock will be eased back into the Arizona lineup, splitting time with Brent Mayne until he's fully reconditioned...Brian Jordan will head across town to Double-A Frisco for some rehab starts, then back to Arlington by next weekend...David Segui's knee is sore. Shocking that he'd miss time, I know, but the O's are blaming the turf in Toronto...If I was 1 for 16 lifetime against that night's pitcher, my back would stiffen up as well. Jay Gibbons missed Mark Hendrickson on Tuesday, but isn't expected to miss more time. (Thanks to Rotowire for the stat.)

Special thanks to friend of BP, Kevin Goldstein, for pumping out some information today during my local radio gig. I'll be back tomorrow.

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