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June 11, 2004

Under The Knife

Finding the Middle Ground

by Will Carroll

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I spent about a half an hour today talking with a professional pitching coach about pitching. It was a great experience and he left with my book, but I left with something better. As I meet more people in baseball, I find more who want to make the game better, who are willing to be open-minded about new approaches, new research, and new possibilities. Stories like Dayn Perry's Beer and Tacos article and Steven Goldman's on Moneyball started to articulate a foundation for this new school of thought. Instead of the tired old school/new school debate that has become more holy war than revolution, there's a "middle school" that is actually making inroads in the game. I'm firmly planting my feet there in the median.

On to the injuries ...

  • Reports have been mixed on Kevin Brown. Early in the day, it looked like Brown's back injury wasn't serious. It was described to me as a "slip. His cleat didn't catch and he overstepped, so his back took the worst of it." Reports later in the day wavered between caution and fear. Brown will have some imaging and therapy, but there's no determination yet on how serious the problem is. The Yanks don't have the pitching depth to absorb an injury well, but there's always the possibility that they'll go get an extra arm.

  • It took much less time than expected to get Garret Anderson back, but the return of their prodigal outfielder was tempered by the loss of recent signing Raul Mondesi. Anderson came back after only a few games in the minors, but most reports have him fully healthy. There's no residual stiffness or pain, only some rust from his forty days on the shelf. Mondesi is out with a torn quadriceps. There's no official word yet, but sources think it's a season-ender. With the latest injury to Mondesi, someone in baseball asked if I thought the Angels were unlucky or doing something wrong. I don't think the Angels can be blamed for Mondesi, so in absence of an explanation, bad luck is as good a thing point to as anything else.

  • Speaking of the Angels, Troy Percival will be out around a month, perhaps a little more. His shoulder strain will heal, but it be about a ten days before he can return to a throwing program. Anaheim's bullpen depth will allow them to be conservative with Percival's rehab, so a push back on that timeframe isn't necessarily a negative. Once back, Percival should reclaim his role without much fuss.

  • Houston won't start Andy Pettitte on Sunday, but things are looking much better for him. Pettitte will have another bullpen session on Friday. That session will be similar to his successful session on Wednesday, when he threw sixty-five pitches. Pettitte still won't have a rehab start, but he will likely come back with a pitch limit.

  • Kerry Wood is getting closer to finally filling out the rotation that the Cubs expected to have this season. While Mark Prior didn't pitch the type of game he's come to expect on Wednesday, it's a major psychological plus to have their "Big Five" lined up. Wood is still feeling some tightness in his triceps, but anticipates being ready to go in about ten days.

  • The news on Joe Borowski isn't as good. He's headed to see Lewis Yocum for a second opinion on his injured shoulder. The Cubs had the full battery of imaging performed, but my best source doesn't think there is a clear diagnosis yet. With shoulders, getting a diagnosis is tough, and without one, there's no timetable.

  • Sammy Sosa is stocking up on antihistamines in hopes he can keep his back healthy. Actually, he's healing up nicely and will visit metropolitan Memphis for a three-game rehab stint at Double-A. The team medical staff doesn't anticipate any problems since Sosa's pain-spasm cycle has been stopped for a few days. He'll be back for the Oakland series.

  • Roy Halladay threw a side session, preparing for his return to the Blue Jays rotation. Halladay will be watched closely during his Saturday start, but Toronto doesn't seem to think the problem will recur. According to team sources, they'll watch Halladay's mechanics and workload until he regains to the efficient form that put a Cy Young Award on his mantle.

  • Albert Pujols will come back on Friday, but will be limited to DH-ing for the first few games. Pujols' hamstring is still tender, but he's able to run without gait problems. The gait change caused by the original hip flexor injury is what led to the hamstring issues. Hamstring injuries tend to recur, so Pujols will need to be very conscious of the injury and will surely be monitored ,and if necessary, limited further to prevent recurrences or exacerbations.

  • Even as a rookie, Victor Martinez is already among the top catchers in the AL. Rounding first in last night's game, he rolled over his ankle. While he was able to leave the field, he was hobbling and will have an MRI today. Reports from the Indians make this sound more precautionary than worrisome.

  • Trot Nixon is headed to Pawtucket for at least a weekend worth of rehab. Boy, PawSox fans have been getting a star-studded lineup lately. Nixon's return date is expected to be early next week, but as with Nomar Garciaparra, the medical staff is willing to push his return back if there's even a slight indication of problems. Nixon has had no problem with his back or quadriceps over the past few weeks. The Red Sox also expect Scott Williamson back in the bullpen shortly.

  • Quick Cuts: Billy Wagner might have needed a bit more rehab time given his results on Wednesday...Robb Nen may be out for the year. Comments from the team sound gloomy. If so, it's a sad way for a great pitcher to go out...Shannon Stewart is out of his walking cast and two weeks away from rejoining the Twins...John Patterson had a good rehab start, coming back from his groin injury...Ryan Klesko should be back early next week for the Pads...Tomo Ohka was hit by a batted ball and left the game Thursday. No word on the severity...It's a recurring injury now, as Britney Spears finally succumbed to surgery. A small tear in the meniscus was quickly repaired and Spears hopes that rehab will help. (Have fun with that sentence, people. Man, I haven't had this much email about an injury since Paris Hilton pulled a groin.)
The Louisville Pizza Feed has been postponed. Something about cicadas, a pepperoni crisis, and pure exhaustion. I'll be dragging myself in for BPR this week, but it should be great - Phil Alden Robinson, the director of "Field of Dreams", Allen Barra, Jim Callis, and Pete Caliendo of the Northern League will be my guests.
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