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April 29, 2004

Under The Knife

SuperSized

by Will Carroll

You might have noticed some construction going on around these parts. There's some dust and a bit of confusion, but I hope everyone is as psyched about the new design. Lots of work has been going on behind the scenes for months now, prepping to make BP a better experience. Bear with us as we work on things to give you more of what you pay your hard-earned money for.

One of those things lost in the shuffle of mail servers was UTK. It happens sometimes; no one's to blame, we just supersize and move on. So, after a night out with Christian Ruzich and TFD, I realize that I could talk baseball for hours. I got to do my Indy radio gig, talked with guys who stopped by for another hour, then beverages with two great guys after that. Life is good, and better now that the XM is installed in the Volvo. I'm ready for next week's big trip. Let's get on to the injuries...

  • The Red Sox are getting healthier by the day. With Byung-Hyun Kim coming off the DL, he'll get a start on Thursday. He's on a strict pitch count, rumored to be 75, and will be backed up by Tim Wakefield in a pseudo-tandem. Kim hasn't brought his velocity up to his normal low-90s during his rehab, so that's something to watch. (For those interested, I'm prepping an article about sidearmers.)

    In addition to Kim, the two sluggers, Nomar Garciaparra and Trot Nixon, continue to make progress. Nomar took grounders on Tuesday before the rains came. It was his first "baseball activity." His running program is progressing well, but Nomar is still at least a week-to-10-days from heading out on a rehab assignment, and it will likely be longer than that. Nixon played in an extended spring training game in Fort Myers, going 1-3 and getting plunked. He had no pain after the game and is on track to move up after a few more games. Overall, Nixon is ahead of schedule, and should be back in Fenway around mid-May.

  • The initial look at Richie Sexson collapsing to the turf immediately reminded me of Frank Thomas or Dean Palmer, two horrible bicep tears. It doesn't look as bad for Sexson. Early reports indicate a shoulder strain, but further tests, including MRI, will be done. Sexson is headed for the DL just a few nights after a mammoth 500-foot home run. Shea Hillenbrand could push across the diamond--or rather, off the bench after getting Pipped by Chad Tracy.

  • Things aren't looking so good for the Giants. Outside of Barry Bonds, there's not much that's gone right and even Bonds spends most of his time walking rather than hitting. Ray Durham is on the DL now with a strained patellar tendon. The damage wasn't as bad as initially thought, according to trainer Stan Conte, but there's still a chance that Durham will need surgery. Expect Durham to be out for well longer than the DL minimum. I don't want to speculate too much beyond that until there's more information available.

  • The Giants also moved Robb Nen from the 15 to the 60-day DL. This was in response to a setback in his throwing program. Coming up with pain again, Nen wasn't on track to return before the 60-day point in late May, so this opened up a needed spot on the 40-man roster. Nen remains an open question with his career hanging in the balance.

  • While the Angels struggled to keep Garret Anderson off the DL, facts came out in the last 48 hours that make this injury seem much more significant than previously thought. Anderson is not only complaining of upper back pain, but a loss of sensation in his hands. This sounds like a disc impinging the nerves and could be extremely serious. Cervical disc injuries (those in the neck and shoulder area) aren't as responsive to treatments as lumbar (lower back) discs. While this injury isn't perfectly comparable to Ricky Gutierrez, that's about the best I have available.

  • The Mets are also getting healthier. With Cliff Floyd back as soon as this weekend, the focus moves to Jose Reyes. Reyes is working in extended spring training and stole a couple bags in Monday's game, surely an excellent sign. He's still working to build strength and setbacks are not only possible, but likely given his current condition, so be careful.

  • Doctors confirmed Tuesday that Austin Kearns fractured his ulna. Many were concerned that he had in fact broken bones in his wrist. The ball did strike him very low, but luckily--and luck is very relative here--the large bone on the medial side of the forearm was all that snapped. While three to four weeks is the public prognosis by some, six weeks is more likely. As I said yesterday, it's unclear how much of his struggles are related to his shoulder, but six weeks should help if it was the problem.

  • Remember when I said that the first reaction you see from a player usually is the best indicator of injury? Well, it's not always true. Greg Myers, as you probably know, did not injure his knee as I reported on Tuesday. Instead, he severely sprained his ankle after stepping on a turf seam. Myers is out four weeks as the ligaments heal. Why did Myers grab his knee, then? Most athletes aren't flexible enough to grab their ankle without turning their hip and inverting their foot. There's always an exception.

  • DMPU: Prior had what should be his last bullpen session on Tuesday before heading over to the Cubs' spring training facility in Mesa. Once over there, he'll pitch a couple simulated games, then head out for one controlled minor league game. Prior will be in Mesa with Ryan Dempster and Mike Remlinger. One of his biggest tests will be fielding, something he hasn't done yet.

  • Ivan Rodriguez injured his hand on a play at the plate on Tuesday night, but when he was unable to play Wednesday, the Tigers got worried. While X-rays came back negative, Pudge was unable to squeeze his hand, a necessary motion for playing baseball. If he can't grip a ball or bat, he'll move to the bench. Since it's not a fracture, expect further tests and frantic treatment. For once, Brandon Inge doesn't look like a terrible option.

  • I'm probably the only person excited to see the word "abductor" in a mainstream article. David Eckstein certainly isn't excited about heading to the DL with a strained abductor (groin) muscle. The injury isn't associated with the nerve problem from last season, according to team sources, but it is in a similar area. With much of the team living in the training room, the talent the Angels have amassed still hasn't been able to assemble on the field much. Healthy, they could be a force, but health seems to be a big "if" for this team.

  • It's a minor setback for Kevin Appier, but one that he can overcome. Appier has been sent to the DL with a strained muscle. According to Nick Swartz, the Royals trainer, the injury isn't directly related to the surgery, but since the surgery was very close to the current injury, common sense tells you there's a connection. This link gives a lot of information about the flexor tendon and how it's treated, despite being golf-specific. The Royals have serious problems with three pitchers in a row leaving games early due to injury--first Appier, then Darrell May (groin), and now Jimmy Gobble. It's never too early to think about Zack Greinke, is it?

  • John Patterson left Tuesday's Expos game with an apparent groin injury. Late word has it as a tear, which would mean a minimum of one month out. The Expos will have to hope that Tony Armas can make it back soon. Armas threw batting practice on Monday. His next step is extended spring training.

  • Quick Cuts: Reports from Anaheim say that Vladimir Guerrero appeared to be running extremely well. He had no limp and appeared to be more free than he has been all season. Guerrero had a couple days off to heal up the tendinitis...Yes, Twins Fans, you read it right: Joe Mays could be back by the All-Star break despite having Tommy John surgery in September. Nine month rehab? Yes, it's possible... Mike Sweeney was able to pinch-hit Tuesday, so look for him back in the lineup Wednesday, but watch how his wrist responds... Andy Pettitte will start Friday. Astros sources say he's still not 100%, but he can pitch without pain. There are rumors, denied by those sources, that Pettitte's under orders not to swing... The Brewers have shut down Nick Neugebauer after just two unsuccessful outings in High-A High Desert. One of the nicest kids I've met, it's too bad he keeps ending up in UTK... Eli Marrero heads to the DL as the Braves see just how deep they are or aren't in the outfield... Tigers reliever Fernando Rodney will have Tommy John surgery this week. He's out for the season... Jason LaRue left Wednesday's game after being hit on the hand. He was trying to bunt, but to add insult to injury, it was called a foul ball. Good ruling, but still stings.

Be sure to catch the two editions of Baseball Prospectus Radio up now, because the next two week's shows should be great: Johnny Damon and co-host Christian Ruzich this week. The following week? Well, let's just say "Rome" and "#1 Prospect" for now. Back tomorrow.

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