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May 28, 2004

Under The Knife

Making Your Voice Heard

by Will Carroll

I never, ever talk about politics in this space. OK, almost never. One of the many criticisms of political pundits is that some voices come across as "shrill" when they criticize one side or the other. I've never been quite sure what this meant, but it seems to silence some voices. When I first started writing UTK, I sent the first newsletter to three friends. In the three years since, I still write it the same way. My writing is better--mostly due to the editors who suffer through my work--and my sources are infinitely better. Still, one of the hardest things I deal with is criticism of my work. I want people to like me. It's hard to hear someone shred something I put a ton of effort into. I'll probably never get so thick-skinned that it won't bother me, but I've learned to deal with it.

Now, I'm ready to get shrill.

I write here daily about injuries, often to pitchers. I spent the last nine months working on Saving The Pitcher, a book that I think explains why so many pitchers are injured and offers some suggestions to reverse the trend. Sure, the book has only been out a couple weeks, but more has to be done. In this space and others, I'm going to be taking up the cause, speaking loudly and strongly so that something like this doesn't happen:


Pitcher                 Pitch Count
Zack Greinke            126
Chad Gaudin             133
Elizardo Ramirez        134
Jeremy Bonderman        136
Denny Bautista          124
Justin Germano          128
Dontrelle Willis        156
Jerome Williams         143
Rich Harden             151
Oliver Perez            122
Jimmy Gobble            135
Carlos Zambrano         127
Jake Peavy              126
Daniel Cabrera          141
Casey Daigle            121
Sergio Mitre            126
Doug Waechter           141
Noah Lowry              133
Brett Myers             148
Felix Diaz              124
C.C. Sabathia           148
Jeff Bennett            124
Josh Beckett            153
Jason Davis             147
Neal Cotts              146

Think that looks pretty ugly? Guess what, it's worse. If something like this chart happened in the majors, we'd be screaming and calling for the pitching coach's head. But these data aren't from the majors. This chart uses pitch counts that Boyd Nation has collected from collegiate pitchers. I attached the names of the youngest starters in the majors because their ages are equivalent to the young men being sacrificed on collegiate mounds. It's bad there, it's as bad in high school, and bordering on child abuse in youth leagues around the country. I've asked each of you to help with Velocity Loss study and you've come through. Now, I'm asking you to get shrill. Let's find pitcher abuse throughout the country and point it out. Asking nicely isn't working.

On to the injuries...

  • There's a lot of fog in every report on Andy Pettitte, but while some would like you to believe that you can't get good info, I just say they don't know where to look. Most of the key to analyzing Pettitte's injury lies in the description of the injury. We noted that Pettitte was holding his elbow, not his forearm, and that was a good clue. Most reports, including this good one in the Houston Chronicle, indicate that the team is waiting 48 hours to evaluate the injury. The reason is likely that there's swelling in the area, which could make some imaging more difficult. While the team is putting a happy face on it by saying Pettitte might not miss his next start--which is possible--the injury appears to be as serious as the elbow injury that landed him on the DL in April.

  • Forearm problems appear to be in vogue in the league, at least among good Southern pitchers. Jake Peavy was near his Mobile home testing his arm (after his wife gave birth--congrats) and the flexor tendinitis was enough to push him to the DL. It's not considered a severe injury, but just enough to keep the Pads ace off the mound as a precaution. Expect him to be out the minimum and to come back without much problem. With the staff also missing DL'd David Wells, suffering through sub-par seasons by Adam Eaton and Brian Lawrence as well as the flailings of Ismael Valdez, it's shocking to see the Pads atop the NL West. Thanks, Dodger losing streak!

  • Miguel Cabrera--or as I call him, "Future MVP"--is playing with a mild groin strain. He left Thursday's game as a precaution, and this has contributed to his recent struggles at the plate. While the injury doesn't appear to be serious, it's worth watching. Cabrera has been remarkably hardy thus far in his professional career.

  • Last year, Jeff Cooper and the Phillies' medical staff was named the top staff at the ASMI Injuries in Baseball Course (which will be held this January in Scottsdale--contact me if you're interested in going). Along with the Giants, Devil Rays, and a few others, the Phillies have been acknowledged to be at the top of the ladder. That background helps you understand why it was such a shock when Billy Wagner went negative early against Cooper. While I haven't been able to get Wagner's full side of the story, I have to side with Cooper on this. It's doctors, not trainers, that prescribe medication, and last I checked, Wagner doesn't have a Masters degree in anything, let alone sports medicine. Wagner's cascading problems have to worry Phillies fans. I'll be following this story and hope to have more info to you soon.

  • It was another setback for Jose Reyes, but only a minor one. Changes to his running style contributed to ongoing lower back pain--and remember, this is chronic back pain interrelated to his hamstring problems--so he'll need a couple more days in rehab. I'm a bit lost on when his rehab started and how the rule is actually enforced, but that's the least of Reyes' worries.

  • You know all that stuff I said about labrums recently? Well, it's still true, but we're now starting to see some exceptions, as newer surgical techniques like mechanical anchoring are netting promising results. One of the key cases to watch is David Williams of the Pirates. He's nearly two years past a scope of his shoulder by Dr. James Andrews to fix a SLAP tear, but he seems to be returning to previous levels. At Triple-A, he's among the PCL leaders in strikeouts. His 77 innings last year seem to be a good start, and he's building off the early success. Like Gil Meche, there are some questions about his stamina and velocity, but his command seems to be back to previous levels. At 25, Williams has time to get back to the majors and as a lefty, he'll get plenty of chances. PECOTA is very negative on Williams, but as an experiment, he remains interesting to those hoping to solve the labrum mystery.

  • Quick Cuts: Joe Mauer played DH and should catch on Friday. He'll be back in the Twins lineup early next week...Hideo Nomo heads to the DL. Edwin Jackson could get the call (but I've been really bad at calling these lately)...Trot Nixon played the field and made a couple plays in Fort Myers. He's a week away, at best...Orlando Hudson heads to the DL--maybe. The Jays will make a decision on Friday. Forewarned is forearmed.

If you didn't have enough reason to come to the Rooftop Game on Monday, it's looking like we'll see a Greg Maddux/Roy Oswalt matchup. Tasty. On Sunday, I'll be at the Indy 500--I'll be the guy in the hat, so be sure to say hi. Until next time, have a great Memorial Day weekend, and stay healthy.

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