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May 13, 2004

Under The Knife

Returned from Toronto

by Will Carroll

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Back from Toronto and one of the best book signings we had all year. Thanks to Indigo and everyone who attended, with a special thanks to the guys who run battersbox.ca. The constitutional through Toronto's sunny streets with Craig Burley was among the highlights of my trip. The best part of this job is the people I get to know.

Of course, the minute I leave town, a big injury happens. So, powered by the gourmet pizza served Tuesday night in Toronto, on to the injuries...

  • The Astros have been both good and healthy this season, outside of having Andy Pettitte on the DL for a stint. Now, Wade Miller leaves his start early on Wednesday. Reports have him with significant pain in his neck, likely connected to the nerve problem he suffered with in 2002. That was disc-related, so all indications point to that again. Miller went on the DL in '02, but only missed a couple starts. He'll have more tests in the next few days.

  • The news was better today for Kerry Wood. An MRI showed only a mild "hot spot" in his triceps and some tendinitis. The soreness isn't related to his repaired elbow in any way, and while he will miss one start, he won't go to the DL. The fact that the start would have been against the Giants and Barry Bonds surely didn't factor into the decision. Glendon Rusch will get the spot start. The Cubs have Mark Prior locked in for a June 4th start against the Pirates, so the rotation they thought they'd have should be in place soon.

  • I had a pretty good line on the radio yesterday, saying "When your healthiest, most consistent player is a 32-year-old catcher, something's wrong." Sorry, Jorge Posada, I cursed you, apparently. Posada broke his nose when Alfredo Almezaga dropped down on the pivot, with the ball striking Posada in the face. It's unclear if he'll miss any time after having the nose re-set, but at most, it will be a couple games. A broken nose--I've had 11--is painful, but easily fixed.

  • Strained sternum? No, no, no. I hope, dear readers, that you realize this simply cannot be. A strain is a muscular injury, and last I checked, the sternum is a bone. There's more to this injury to Corey Koskie than the media has power to discern, apparently. The injury is probably muscular and probably in the area of the sternum. Usually, this would be a pectoral muscle, but that's an uncommon injury in baseball. More often, that injury comes up in football or men's gymnastics. There's a chance it could be cartilage pulling away from the area or even a stress fracture. For now, these are all educated guesses, but none of them are very good for Koskie and the Twins. I'll continue to dig on this. In the meantime, Mike Cuddyer will take over at third and Grant Balfour was activated from the DL.

  • Adrian Beltre has had something of a resurgance this season, playing like the player many had expected for several seasons. He's still young and he's always been talented, but he's doing it on a bum wheel. Beltre has bone spurs in his ankle that will need to be removed at some point, though Beltre and the team hope he can make it to the end of the season. Beltre will need some days off, so plan accordingly.

  • When a chronic injury recurs, there are both good and bad things going on. The negative is that it usually takes longer to recover, and in the case of hamstrings, more scarring means more weakness. The positive is that the player has been able to overcome the injury previously and understands the rehab. I'm not sure which way to lean with Fernando Vina, since he's had such significant hamstring problems. He's headed to the DL, but don't be surprised to see him stay a bit longer than most would expect.

  • Recently, I've debated adding a special section called "Under The Halo." Each year, there's a team that ends up with a bunch of players in my reports. What's odd this year is that the team with the 'bad luck' is also the team with one of the best records in the majors. That's a credit to Mike Scioscia and the Angels' front office. Let's have a quick tour around the organization: Jose Guillen is back from what looked to be a serious knee injury and immediately began hitting. The knee injury looks to be behind him. Tim Salmon is heading out on a rehab assignment and should be back next week. Brendan Donnelly left his rehab assignment with a sore elbow; the diagnosis is tendinitis. It will push his return back about a week. Troy Glaus has been stuck at DH due to a shoulder injury, but now he's also having leg problems. He'll head to Lewis Yocum's examining room and could be out for a couple games. Darin Erstad had his hamstring MRI come back with not one, but two significant tears. While the official word of "about a month" is possible, Erstad is more likely to be out until around the ASB.

  • Arthur Rhodes returned to the closer role for the A's, pitching a perfect ninth against Detroit. This is good news for Rhodes' owners, coming off poor outings and reports of shoulder problems. Rhodes still only has seven saves, but it's simply poor pitching, not any stat, that has him in danger of being moved down the pen.

  • One of the biggest dangers of coming back from Tommy John surgery is shoulder soreness. Most pitchers alter their mechanics during the rehab process and instinctually guard the repaired elbow. In a classic cascade, they injure the shoulder, but usually not seriously. This appears to be the mechanism at work with Matt Riley. The Orioles will shut him down for about a week to quiet the swelling and pain, then hope to have him back in the bullpen.

  • Once a top prospect, Bobby Basham of the Reds recently had surgery to repair a torn labrum. The successful return rate from this surgery is frighteningly low. I'll go into much more detail soon in a piece for Slate, the online magazine. The Reds continue to lose minor league pitchers at a horrible rate. I had a line in here earlier about the poor quality of all Reds pitching, but Cory Lidle is putting on a clinic in San Diego as I type this.

  • Quick Cuts: Casey Fossum will come off the DL on Friday to make his first start for the D'backs...Cliff Floyd is getting closer. He's started his rehab assignment and will be back in the Mets lineup no later than the weekend...Doug Brocail heads to the DL shortly after coming back, this time due to an emergency appendectomy...Brewers prospect J.J. Hardy is out for the season. In an incident very similar to the Richie Sexson injury, Hardy's shoulder dislocated and tore his labrum in two locations. He'll have surgery shortly...

Back tomorrow. On Friday, BPR co-host Scott McCauley will be doing what I did last year: taking a ride around the Indy Speedway in a two-seater. You can bet we'll have lots on that on this week's BPR, as well as info on a ground-breaking hitting study.

Related Content:  Back,  Year Of The Injury

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