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April 27, 2004

Under The Knife

Kearns Krisis

by Will Carroll

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While everyone is watching the BALCO case, one currently full of questionable leaks and speculation, I've been watching the negotiations for a drug-testing agreement in concert with the proposed Baseball World Cup. This story from Barry Bloom is a massive step, not only for the Cup, but for moving the current drug-testing policy forward to one that will be less of a public relations problem. To me, fixing whatever problems exist are more important than trying to look back and point fingers.

  • The term "breaking out of a slump" is too literal for Austin Kearns. An inside pitch broke a bone in his forearm, apparently very close to his wrist. Kearns will fly back to Cincinnati immediately for examination by Tim Kremchek. Once decisions are made about how he'll be treated, we'll be able to get a better handle on how long he'll be out. Nate Silver might get to see what Wily Mo Pena can do with extended at-bats, but for the Reds' fetish with Ryan Freel.

  • The Braves weren't able to play one man short after all, and they pushed Chipper Jones to the DL. The impetus may have actually come from Julio Franco. Franco's inner ear infection would have left the team two men down, thus the decision to disable Jones. Chipper wasn't happy with the decision, but will deal with it. In the long term and even the short term, this will help him.

  • I've received lots of questions about Bernie Williams in the mail over the last few days. Williams is clearly struggling once again with arthritic shoulders. Last year, he was able to get some relief with cortisone injections, but at some point, those would get counterproductive. The Yankees should get Kenny Lofton back in the next 10 days; he'll do a short rehab stint, giving them some time to decide what, if anything, to do with Bernie.

  • The Angels don't need much relief help, but they'll get it when Brendan Donnelly comes back in a matter of weeks. After a very scary episode post-comebacker, Donnelly was able to pitch from a mound for the first time this weekend. Donnelly still needs to get into game shape over the next couple weeks, but there's no reason to believe he can't return to his previous level, if not the amazing level he performed at early in 2003. Remember, Donnelly had bone chips removed from his elbow over the winter.

  • In today's Blue Jays notes, Greg Myers sounded excited about seeing the new turf in Minnesota. After coming out of the game, I doubt he's quite as excited. Myers collapsed after a quick stop rounding third. There's no proof that the turf--or any turf--causes injuries, but there's a building case of anecdotal data surrounding the new Metrodome turf. It was unclear how serious the knee injury was, but he was not able to even make it back to the base. It's more likely that Gregg Zaun would be called up to replace him than Guillermo Quiroz at this stage of the season, but Quiroz's time is getting closer.

  • It didn't take long for the Red Sox to make their decision on Ellis Burks. With the offense they have--and more coming--Burks will have knee surgery to repair his torn meniscus. Like Preston Wilson and Joe Mauer, Burks should be able to come back in about a month. With his age and the options the Sox have, it may be just a bit longer.

  • I should write more about this, but I've gotten a bit of e-mail about Oliver Perez going 117 pitches a few nights ago. Perez, like many pitchers, is watched closely and any time a young pitcher's pitch count goes higher than 100, my inbox begins to fill. Remember that without context, pitch counts tell us almost nothing. Factors like mechanics, velocity, surrounding starts, body type, and probably a hundred other factors are vital for assessing a player's risk profile. High pitch counts are something you'd rather not see, but until they get extreme or are consistently high, don't get so excited. I think one of the things we need to revisit is that magic "100-pitch" mark. Just because it's a round number doesn't mean it should be the end-all for pitcher handling.

  • Congrats to Matt Thornton of the Mariners. After fighting back from arm injuries, Thornton was called up by the M's Monday. Long-time UTK readers will remember a couple pieces that Thornton contributed just before and after his surgery.

I'll be in Birmingham next Tuesday night, so if anyone would like to get together, e-mail me. If we get enough people, I'll make it a Pizza Feed.

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