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May 19, 2004

Under The Knife

Cuts and Sneezes

by Will Carroll

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Perfect. I'd like to say I saw the whole game, but it took an e-mail from Derek Zumsteg to get the channel over to TBS. Randy Johnson was dealing, obviously, and while DMZ will do the game more justice over in Breaking Balls, I'd like to again thank Randy Johnson for a great game and being on the cover of my book.

Ahhh, karma...so on to the injuries...

  • That must have been one heck of a sneeze. Sammy Sosa's sneeze strained a ligament in his back, pushing him to the DL. While the injury is both painful and would make playing difficult if not impossible, Sosa doesn't have any further structural damage and should come back around the minimum. With the Astros and Cardinals on the immediate schedule, this is a bad time to be without the slugger, but the Cubs will try to make do by mixing and matching players like Todd Hollandsworth, Tom Goodwin, and perhaps David Kelton or Jason DuBois.

  • The injury to David Wells could have been a lot worse. While the rumors and innuendo will only intensify, Wells' injury consists of simple yet deep lacerations to the hand and a partial tear/laceration of the palmaris longis tendon. This tendon, normally used as the replacement structure in Tommy John surgery, was repaired in minor surgery on Tuesday. Since the tendon has no real function, Wells is expected back around the minimum.

  • Last year's MVP candidate Shannon Stewart is perhaps the latest casualty of the Twins' new turf. While I'll say again that there's no scientific evidence I'm aware of that turf causes more injuries than grass, it's so deeply ingrained in the minds of most players that it might become self-fulfilling. Sources say Stewart is blaming his heel problems on the "squishy" new turf in Minnesota. Those same sources say the problem isn't actually the heel, but plantar fascitis, a much more serious condition. Some will remember that Mark McGwire lost a season to the injury. Others, like Marty Cordova, had similar difficult experiences. The Twins will be aggressive in treating this condition, and they're well equipped to deal with the loss of an outfielder. If Joe won't say it, I will--Free Justin Morneau (but wait until he stops in Indy so I can interview him again first).

  • According to the L.A. Times, Tim Salmon will restart his rehab assignment in a few days. Salmon had a cortisone injection in his knee. The medical staff hopes the remaining inflammation will come down and that the range of motion will return. Salmon's timetable is pushed back slightly by this and the injury will likely limit him once he returns to DH. The Angels are discussing all options for their roster, including trades, call-ups, and shuffling the current Angels into more optimal roles.

  • It seems you can't say "Jason Giambi" these days without invoking the spirit of Mark McGwire. Not the popular slugging McGwire, but the one at the end of the line. Giambi's back is acting up, but some are whispering that Giambi is playing it up to get his personal trainer back. That's unclear, but Giambi is going off the reservation for some deep-tissue massage as well as the normal modalities.

  • Things are looking a bit better for the Expos. I can't hold out a lot of hope, but with Carl Everett back in the lineup and Nick Johnson restarting a rehab assignment--and if someone can clarify if he has the full 20 days, I'd appreciate it--some of the hitting everyone expected from the Expos might find its way onto the field. Everett is playing with a torn labrum, so temper the expectations. With Johnson, he's playing with...well, he's Nick Johnson, and that appears to be handicap enough, despite his talent.

  • Just over a year removed from Tommy John surgery, A.J. Burnett made it back on the mound. Burnett went 4 1/3 innings in an extended spring training game. His velocity was in the mid-90s and he threw normal breaking pitches. The test will come tomorrow when he begins to recover, then Sunday when he makes a Single-A start. If all goes well, he could beat Mark Prior back to the majors. June 2 is mentioned by many as the target date.

    Billy Wagner won't make it back to Philly without a stop in the minors first. The stop will be brief, with most signs pointing to Clearwater. Wagner's groin is a cascade injury, so he'll focus on his mechanics during the rehab. The rehab should be short, but as Roy Oswalt showed last season, groin strains need to be fully healed before getting back on the mound.

  • Friend of UTK Kevin Goldstein of Baseball America checks in with this news, via my favorite name in the minors, the Montgomery Biscuits: "The Biscuits tagged Paul Byrd for five hits and five runs in four-plus innings. Byrd, in his second game back from Tommy John surgery last July, had been slated to throw 90 pitches, but he left after just 62 pitches with tightness in his right elbow." Not a good sign, as Byrd was expected to shore up the Braves' rotation in the second half.

  • Quick cuts: Jason Schmidt went 144 pitches in his one-hitter. That's a lot, but Dave Righetti and Stan Conte were right there, watching closely. Seeing Jose Macias swing on the first pitch at a guy on #140 is pretty frustrating if you're a Cubs fan...Late news--Desi Relaford left Tuesday's game with a leg injury...One-hundred and two mph? That's the report on Everett Threets, but he won't do that again for a while. He's down with a likely torn labrum...Steve Karsay is making slow progress. He'll throw a simulated game later this week. I'd really like to see how they handle these games...Cole Hamels is back at Single-A Clearwater. Expect fast progress...The Rangers will use a series of lefties as a reason to hide David Dellucci while he recovers from an epidural injection. Dellucci normally sits against lefties, so he'll rest and watch video...Dmitri Young is getting closer to a return from his broken fibula. He's getting more aggressive with rehab and is on track to come back in early June.

Peter Gammons is a must-read, but you already knew that. In today's column, he mentions that Tropicana Field is drawing many complaints. Some of this may be due to the Rays not buying equipment to fix the turf after rodeos, tractor pulls, and other events hosted in the multi-purpose stadium. If true, then MLB needs to step in. One of the things that MLB can definitely control is the quality of the field. Bad turf, choppy grass, and non-standard mounds are something that someone--I'm not sure if it's Bud Selig or Sandy Alderson or someone else--needs to get a handle on. Just ask Mark Mulder.

Back tomorrow with all the news that hurts to print.

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Prospectus Triple Play... (05/19)
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