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May 3, 2004

Under The Knife

So Much to Discuss

by Will Carroll

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There's a lot going on in the world of baseball. Most of it is on the field, but there's too much happening off the field for my comfort. The ongoing BALCO controversy took on a new, potentially frightening turn when it was announced that the Federal Government is in position now to match all test results to names--putting the identities of the 87 people who tested positive last year at risk of being publicized. It remains unclear to me if those who tested positive are aware that they did test positive. As well, the re-tested samples seized just a few weeks ago in Las Vegas could come public at any time. While I've written very little about the case in the pages of BP, I am monitoring the situation closely. When there are important and substantive issues to discuss, we'll be ready.

Powered by Monster Lo-Carb, on to the injuries...

  • Over the weekend, some additional facts about Richie Sexson were brought to light. In addition to the subluxation and bruise, Sexson suffered a minor tear of his labrum. This means that the shoulder was damaged as the shoulder moved in both directions. There are varying opinions on how the injury will affect Sexson. It is in his non-throwing shoulder, but the lead shoulder for batting. The comparable for this is Shawn Green. Green was able to play with a torn labrum in his front shoulder, but his power numbers suffered.

  • Randy Johnson hasn't had any knee problems so far this season, but he will begin a planned series of Synvisc injections later this week. Synvisc is the synthetic lubricant that Johnson first began using last year. The injections come in a series of five, one week apart, but he is not expected to miss any starts during the process.

  • A good friend of UTK got the chance to see Matt Mantei pitch a couple times this weekend and thinks that Mantei is pitching through elbow pain. The lack of control and inconsistent results certainly match up with that, so keep a close eye on the D'backs closer, as well as on Jose Valverde and Brian Bruney, the two closers in waiting.

  • Jim Thome is playing through pain, but once again, we're forced to assess whether 80% of Thome is better than any other player the Phillies might have available. Thome had a cortisone shot in his injured left thumb in hopes that whatever pain he's experiencing will subside. Expect Thome to take opportunities to rest the thumb when possible, such as days before or after a scheduled off day.

  • The Angels haven't been able to keep much of their impressive lineup on the field together due to a series of injuries. With Vladimir Guerrero back on the field and running well, Tim Salmon is headed to the DL with inflammation in his knee. Garret Anderson remains out with neck pain with some radiation to his shoulders. The cause is still a mystery, but the most serious conditions, including some that could have forced Anderson out for the season, have been ruled out. Troy Glaus injured his shoulder diving for a ball, but he remains available for hitting. It is the left shoulder that is currently injured, rather than his surgically repaired right shoulder.

  • Ryan Klesko won't be asking anyone for a hand. Reaching up for an assist after a stretch, Klesko first experienced a spasm in his right oblique and lower back. The pain hasn't gone away and according to team sources--in fact, it hasn't even reduced. Obliques are slow-healing muscles, so the DL remains a possibility. The best case scenario is that the pain subsides by Tuesday and he rejoins the team later this week.

  • Jon Lieber looked good in his first Yankee start. He went 91 pitches, showing that the Yankees are not only not babying him, but have a high degree of confidence in his abilities. Lieber will be watched closely, to be sure, but expect him to simply come out of the game slightly earlier than normal, probably around the 100 pitch mark.

  • Kirk Rueter has made every start this season, but it's still an open question whether he has made it back from last season's shoulder strain. Like most finesse pitchers, the margin that Rueter plays with is very thin. With only six strikeouts and eight walks in 25 innings, Reueter is putting up similar numbers to those he had last September. The biggest difference has been that he's allowing far more hits, showing he's not fooling anyone (and that the Giants' defense leaves something to be desired).

  • While Mark Prior tries to recover, he's providing cover for Mike Remlinger. Remlinger's return may not be quite as newsworthy as Prior's, but the recent performance from the Cubs' bullpen shows that Remlinger could be nearly as important. Remlinger is also in Arizona, working in simulated games. Reports have him about two weeks away from his Wrigley debut. You'll notice that Remlinger and Prior both return about the time that Houston first appears on the Cubs' schedule.

  • Much of the success that Javy Lopez had last year was credited to a new conditioning program that took off muscular weight and increased his flexibility. It looks like he forgot to work on his obliques this year, however, missing the weekend. These injuries are notoriously slow healing, so be careful if you're counting on Lopez in the upcoming week.

  • David Segui is a name frequently seen in this column, but I don't have anything against him personally; he's just fragile. Segui is once again dealing with knee problems. The inflammation is not getting better, and surgically, I'm not sure how much more can be done. Add in his chronic wrist problems and it's a wonder he's put up a .283 EqA.

  • Quick Cuts: DMPU: Mark Prior's first simulated game on Saturday lasted only 15 pitches, but was deemed a 'complete success.' He'll have another simulated game on Wednesday...If you've been holding Robby Hammock out of your lineup because he wasn't the regular catcher, stop. He's been cleared to play up to five games per week...Milton Bradley missed the weekend with a sprained ankle, but is expected back on Tuesday...Carl Everett is expected back within two weeks. He'll be playing with a torn labrum.

In non-injury news, there was the first sighting of a street copy of Saving The Pitcher. Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me through the process. Like this column, I consider the book as much yours as mine. I'm off Thursday and Friday this week as I head to the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, so we'll fit in as much as we can the first three days this week.

Related Content:  Shoulder

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