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July 26, 2004

Under The Knife

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right

by Will Carroll

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The Jet Lag Tour continues, but UTK never sleeps. Heading into the trade deadline, injuries become even more important than normal, as contending teams attempt to fill gaps, evaluate their assets, and roll the dice on a stretch-run. There are a lot of rumors swirling around, and we may even see another Randy Myers-type deal sometime in August. For now, we'll focus on the injuries that have happened.

So, powered by my own incredibly broad bandwidth, on to the injuries...

  • Lots of e-mailers asked about reports that Jason Giambi was tested for cancer last week. Giambi's been poked, prodded, and had every test known to man conducted over the last few weeks, including ones for cancer. As yet, there is still no solid diagnosis, post-parasitic. Since giardia is easily cleared up, and the body recovers quickly, the symptoms intransigence is puzzling. At some point, we may have to ask whether Giambi is dealing with a condition or merely has lost the skills necessary to play baseball at this level.

  • Bone marrow edema isn't a diagnosis heard every day. In baseball, it's now a singular event, afflicting Magglio Ordonez, who just returned from knee surgery. Also called "transient osteoporosis," the edema is not just a short-term problem for the Sox' outfielder, it's also bad in the long-term; BME is a predictor of serious arthritis, gait imbalances, and increased risk for fractures near the affected bones. It's not good for the White Sox, for Ordonez, or Ordonez's agent, but it's not life-threatening, as some have feared. It could be managed in a way that could allow Ordonez back on the field, but as there is nothing with which to compare this, I have no way of putting a timeline on it.

  • The Phillies seem to make their own problems, but the loss of Billy Wagner down the stretch could be crippling. Wagner has often hid injuries in the past, and with the latest shoulder problem, Phillies sources tell me that the left-hander definitely downplayed it. Wagner's pitching shoulder is not responding to the cortisone shots, so the DL is a distinct possibility. The Phillies hope to make a decision no later than Tuesday.

  • The Reds may get their outfield back in place by mid-August, even if that's too late for this year. With Wily Mo Pena establishing himself, it will be interesting to see how Dave Miley works Austin Kearns back into the rotation, while spotting Ken Griffey Jr. out. The Reds surprised early, but building late is much more important. Griffey is making progress, running the bases with progressively more speed and explosiveness.

  • Josh Beckett not only completed a simulated game, he threw over 50 pitches prior to the simulated game last week. This means that Beckett threw over 100 pitches at near-game level without a recurrence of the blister problem. That's as good a sign as we'll get that he's healed, but it seems odd that he would be so tested in a non-game situation. Beckett's problem is recurrent, so the Marlins have to maximize the value on the occasions where he is available. I'm still reminded that he had no blister problems in last year's playoffs, something I still find odd. It's the one time in his career where he was both healthy and effective.

  • Jarrod Washburn continues to have an up-and-down season. He's now expected to miss at least one start with a sprain of the ligaments that connect his ribs to his sternum. The injury is not serious, but can be intensely painful. Washburn should have no ill effects once rest and anti-inflammatories help calm the initial symptoms. While one start seems low, I don't foresee him missing more than two.

  • The Rockies are well out of the race, but assessing how their rotation might come together next year is important. Joe Kennedy has worn down under the Coors Field air (or lack thereof) and may have been taxed by the half-hearted attempt at a four-man rotation. Kennedy's extreme sinker delivery, which includes a non-linear step and a cross-body follow-through, can be taxing in any circumstances. I think Kennedy will be fine if he is handled correctly now.

  • Maybe his body wants to retire. Barry Larkin has another muscular injury related to his chronic oblique injuries. This time, he's strained an abdominal muscle that is proximal to the oblique. While he will avoid the DL, Larkin is losing time and costing the Reds some flexibility. I won't criticize Larkin if he decides to stay one more season, but I hope he doesn't.

  • Quick Cuts: Last year, 82 major leaguers--just over the 5% threshold--tested positive for banned substances. This year, none. What happened? Is the mere threat of testing enough to drive the problem out?...Eric Chavez admitted to the SF Chronicle that his hand is still not completely healed and is limiting his power...Tim Hudson will make a minor league rehab start late this week, but is still likely to head to the bullpen at first...Mike Piazza will return from his sprained wrist on Thursday...Trot Nixon is still dealing with the strained left quadriceps injury that has marred his 2004. While he is not expected to miss more than the 15-day minimum, the injury is affecting his hitting as well as his range...Juan Gonzalez should make a cameo appearance for the Royals late this week. Amazingly, some teams are asking about him in trades...Watch Zack Greinke closely. I had a lot of conversations, especially with Rany Jazayerli, about the young ace, but I worry he's fatigued. That's always a danger for a young pitcher...Rafael Soriano had a successful side session. He's still on track for a mid-August return to the M's bullpen. Soriano could be the closer in '05, since Eddie Guardado won't be, whether through trade or exercising his opt-out.

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