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August 5, 2004

Under The Knife

Getting Right to It

by Will Carroll

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I know you don't come here for intros, so let's just dispense with one and get right to the injuries …

  • The Yankees released the latest trickle of information in the mysterious case of Jason Giambi, who is resting at home while undergoing treatment. I've made discreet inquiries into Giambi's condition, but honestly, I'm loath to dig much further. The Yankees have provided enough information to allow fans and media to understand what's going on while not divulging any potentially personal information. Some of the speculation could be ended with more specifics, but with health information, there are valid privacy concerns that I believe are important. Giambi is expected to begin baseball activities in about three weeks and should be available for the playoffs. None of my best Yankees sources will guess how much of his normal strength Giambi will have recovered by that point.

  • The Yankees rotation, like those of the Cubs and Astros, has seldom been what the teams envisioned at the start of the season. Mike Mussina is closer to a return, going 50 pitches at Yankee Stadium before the game. He'll go again on Friday, then head out for two rehab starts, likely beginning in Tampa. At this pace, he'll be in the Yankees rotation by August 15, just in time to glide towards October.

  • Billy Wagner is about to give Phillies fans a bit of a worry. Although the Phils are trying to spin Wagner's visit to Dr. Lewis Yocum as nothing more than dropping by while in the neighborhood, the question is not if Wagner will need surgery, but when. A conflict will arise since the Phillies need him now and don't have him signed past this year. Wagner's rotator cuff will need attention, not something a free-agent closer wants on his resumé.

  • The Phillies don't need a power outage this late in the season. Unfortunately, Jim Thome is still having pain and weakness in his hand, a problem that has bothered him all season. Thome has pain in both his right index finger and left thumb. There's little additional damage that can be done since Thome is likely to have surgery in the offseason to correct the thumb problem, but it's worth knowing why his power has come way down since the All-Star break.

  • While some will praise players for playing through pain or hiding injuries, you should know that's not my style. Another thing I simply don't understand is the "quick comeback." Richie Sexson is saying that he'll be ready to come back in September after June shoulder surgery, but really, what's the point? Sexson's power would be way down and it's not like he needs to prove what he can do heading into free agency. For the D'backs, there's little upside in risking the health of a guy they want to re-sign. Sure, I'll admire players that want to play, but it doesn't mean I think they're smart.

  • There were hints yesterday that Jerome Williams' elbow injury was more serious than originally thought, but actually having bone chips and a spur removed from his pitching elbow is in line with both the symptoms he displayed and what we knew. Williams is expected to miss four to six weeks while recovering, putting his season and any playoff appearances in jeopardy. Just two years ago, the Giants were able to get Rich Aurilia back from similar surgery in just 15 days. Williams is a pitcher, however, and for them the timetable is longer in most cases. For the playoff run, the Giants appear to be forced into using many of their young pitching prospects. It worked Tuesday night, when Noah Lowry tossed a three-hit shutout.

  • The Mets shifted Jose Reyes back to his natural position of shortstop while Kazuo Matsui continues to recover from a sore, swollen ankle. The signing of Matsui hasn't been a complete bust, but it's hardly the success many expected it to be. This move is an indication that the team isn't happy with the production they are getting from Matsui. There are some whispers that the middle infield may swap places for 2005, allowing Reyes to focus on what everyone thinks will be his long-term position.

  • The good news is that the back injury to Michael Young is muscular and not structural. The bad news is that he could be out for the better part of a week, forcing the team to make a call on whether to send him to the DL or to play a man down. According to Jamey Newberg, the Rangers probably won't play Alfonso Soriano at shortstop, the move I had expected. Instead, Andy Fox, Manny Alexander, or possibly Marshall McDougall could fill in for the short term. Young's injury isn't serious, but comes at a bad time. The Rangers can't afford to let their recent slide turn into a collapse.

  • A day after getting ejected, Victor Martinez shows it is also his hamstrings that were tense. The rookie catcher left Wednesday's game suffering from a strained right hamstring. Early reports have it as a mild strain, but the Indians will likely be very cautious with their stud catcher.

  • The Dodgers may have seen the best Brad Penny has to offer in his first Dodger start, but they could also use some contributions from Edwin Jackson and Hideo Nomo down the stretch. Jackson is making good progress, getting up to 60 pitches in a bullpen session. The Dodgers are being extremely conservative with him; he included breaking balls for only the second time in his rehab. Nomo is still a ways off, but he was able to throw batting practice before Wednesday's game without incident. At best, these two will be back in late August.

  • Quick Cuts: Jeff Nelson will head back to the DL after he had more pain in his repaired pitching elbow … Carl Everett was back in the White Sox lineup on Wednesday. He'll be limited to DH duties while his quad continues to heal … Luis Matos will undergo surgery on his fractured left shin, ending his 2004. This one could be classified as a Green Monster bite … Phillies sources tell me that it would take "a complete collapse" to have Larry Bowa not finish the season as manager. The more interesting news is that Ed Wade appears to be taking more heat from ownership and might be in danger this offseason … Grant Balfour heads to the DL, just as predicted. If Jesse Crain is available, now's the time to pick him up … The Angels have given Andres Galarraga another shot at the majors. He's reportedly having no problems after a relapse of his cancer … Benito Santiago is on track to return in late August. His fractured hand is healing on schedule … Jeremy Bonderman will make his next scheduled start. He's walking normally a few days after taking a line drive off his shin.

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