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June 4, 2004

Under The Knife

M-OW-er

by Will Carroll

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Suffice it to say that as I write this, it has been a long, interesting day, much like the Chinese blessing/curse. There has been no end to the interesting, which should lead to several happenings you'll see in the near future, both here and in associated spaces. Everything from Pizza Feeds to outside articles and some groundbreaking research is in the works.

Powered by NyQuil (death green flavor), on to the injuries...

  • All along, I knew something wasn't adding up. I only hope I made it clear that I was confused. The case of Joe Mauer finally has a solution. Why did it take him significantly longer than expected to return from knee surgery? Because the knee surgery was significantly more involved, and had a more negative outcome. Instead of shaving the tears of the meniscus, Mauer had the medial meniscus removed. I'll emphasize this: The Twins' young catcher and top prospect now has no medial meniscus in his left knee. Even with new technology like Synvisc, a young catcher is going to take a lot of stress on that knee. I would be stunned if Mauer can stay at catcher for the next six years. I'm not sure where he might move or how this affects his value, but it certainly reduces it. Kudos to the Twins medical staff for keeping this one under wraps.

  • Roy Halladay heads to the DL in order to give his inflamed shoulder time to heal. Clearly, this injury is pitching-related and points to an impingement. I haven't seen Halladay enough to notice any change in his mechanics, but the Blue Jays watch this type of thing extremely closely. If the problem is impingement, it's easily corrected, first by treating the symptoms, then by treating the cause. Halladay has been one of the best cases of someone who has remade his mechanics at the professional level, so expecting him to adjust isn't a stretch. Many others would be unlikely to change and remain successful while doing it.

  • No, I have no idea what's going on with Rey Ordonez. I don't know...wait, let me look at this note. Oh...Magglio Ordonez. That's a different story. He's the best player on a division-leading team, so news that he's likely to head under the knife is never a good thing. Ordonez has a significant problem that instead of being his calf is now being reported as a meniscal tear. This would make the pain in his calf something radiating from an entrapped nerve, called "referred pain." This type of pain is often extremely difficult to diagnose and would certainly explain the confusion of the last few days. If surgery is called for, Ordonez would have it immediately on Friday with team doctors. The rehab would likely take four-to-six weeks, but an All-Star break return looks possible.

  • The Angels bullpen was once their supreme strength, but the team is more balanced now. Instead, their bullpen depth has allowed it to be successful even without key members and a decline by others. The latest, inflammation in the pitching elbow of closer Troy Percival, is more challenging. If Percival is forced to miss significant time--and that will be determined by how he responds, first to medicine, then to injections--then Francisco Rodriguez will step into the closer role. Getting Brendan Donnelly back would help with depth, but Rodriguez has been one of the lockdown eighth-inning setup men that make the save stat overrated. Moving him to lower-leverage work reduces his value to the team. For once, Dusty Baker should get some credit for how he handles the bullpen. He's doing the very thing that the Red Sox attempted last year without invoking the wrath of the media. Mike Scioscia might want to take notes.

  • This one's just odd. Out since the weekend with a thumb injury, Austin Kearns is dealing with an open wound that is not healing. Described by one source as "a hole in his hand," the wound is not considered serious, but certainly impacts his ability to play. Once healed, Kearns will be back in the lineup immediately and the Reds don't appear inclined to do much more at this point. Kearns is rapidly approaching the "injury prone" tag.

  • A.J. Burnett might not have looked like a world-beater, but the potential is there. Burnett was on a pitch count of 80 and he barely went beyond it--which was very reasonable. The best part of his line is no walks. His velocity was down slightly from earlier reports, but he can give some away and still blow it by most hitters. This is a success for Burnett and the Marlins, but it's his next start that's the most important. It will answer how he can recover.

  • First Burnett comes back. Mark Prior is tomorrow. Nomar Garciaparra isn't far behind. In fact, June 8 looks like the day that Boston fans have been waiting for all spring. Nomar is headed back to Triple-A for some additional at-bats, but he'll be ready to enter the lineup soon. Terry Francona says he'll have a rotation involving Garciaparra, Pokey Reese, and the hot-hitting Mark Bellhorn and Kevin Youkilis. The Red Sox continue to develop the roster options they have, making them more and more dangerous. They should also get Scott Williamson back at the same time.

  • The decision on Richie Sexson is final. He'll have surgery early next week to repair his damaged shoulder. Indications are that the tear can be repaired and that he should be able to return to near his previous function by spring training next season. The injury isn't as severe as that suffered by Shawn Green, but Sexson will likely have an increased likelihood of recurrence, and I'd worry that his power numbers will suffer slightly. Working against Sexson are his extremely long arms. Added to the bat, they're a long lever that taxes the shoulder joint.

  • Off the ledge, Zumsteg. The injury to Raul Ibanez may put the last nail in the coffin of a failed Mariners team, leading to a slew of potential trades. Ibanez severely strained his hamstring in Wednesday's game. Described by team sources as a "slow, deep pull," Ibanez described the injury as a "gunshot." He'll have some imaging done once the swelling is down to determine the severity, but some are already comparing this injury to the one that led Edgar Martinez to have near-experimental surgery a few seasons ago.

  • Juan Gonzalez is about a decade past the reputation he still carries. Gonzalez is out with a back injury and even his GM, Allard Baird, is dropping the hammer on him for his attitude. Baird doesn't question the injury in his quotes to the Kansas City Star, but he does take him to task for refusing to deal with the media. Baird is rapidly becoming a UTK fave. Don't expect Gonzalez back for at least a month.

  • Two names keep coming up in e-mail (and on MC-Scoresheet, an amazing discussion list): Johan Santana and Ryan Wagner. Why are they performing so far below expectations, they ask? (I paraphrase in order to make this family friendly.) Both pitchers are relatively known quantities: Santana is coming off minor elbow surgery, while Wagner is a phenom with horrendous mechanics. Santana's elbow is often called into question, but there's been little lack of control to suggest a problem. Instead, it appears he may simply be pitching poorly, and there's a million reasons besides injury for that. With Wagner, he's lost some of his control, but it was never his strong point. It's difficult to pinpoint a cause here due to small sample sizes, but the Reds medical staff has gotten very proactive over the last 12 months. Watch and wait.

  • Quick Cuts: No rehab assignment for Billy Wagner. He'll be activated early next week...I won't excuse Milton Bradley, but if the rumors of what provoked him are even close to true, I don't fault him...Jason Schmidt was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for May. He thanked the trainers and doctors for getting him back. Classy...Doug Mientkiewicz missed Thursday's game with a sore wrist, but this isn't related to last year's wrist injury...Jose Reyes has been shut down again. Swelling in his lower back is the latest cause...Paul Wilson will return to the Reds rotation on Saturday after his groin checked out. (I've given up trying to make sentences about groins not sound horrible)...Jason Giambi has been told he'll return to the Yankees lineup no later than this weekend.

With that, keep your eyes open. It should be a great weekend, in and out of baseball. Be healthy.

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