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August 11, 2004

Under The Knife

Luck

by Will Carroll

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Steven Goldman opines on luck in his Pinstriped Bible column this week, but it's probably me that gets all the questions about luck. There are always going to be random events, and while you cannot prevent situations caused by bad luck, you can be prepared when they occur.

Does luck enter into injury analysis and management? Sure, but injuries are far from the inevitability some want you to believe they are. We're showing this now with pitching injuries, struggling against ignorance and resistance. Over at ESPN, Tim Keown examines one such resistant force. There are plenty of others. It's a process of education. Education is experience that takes years.

On to the injuries

  • The best news for the Mets was that Tom Glavine was not injured seriously in his auto accident. Any time something potentially deadly like this occurs, even minor injuries seem like nothing. The worst of it appears to be the loss of two front teeth, but that's nothing to a former hockey player. Reports have Glavine a bit battered and bruised, but with nothing that won't heal. The Mets expect him to miss one start.

  • More serious were reports on two other injured Mets. Mike Piazza has swelling in his knee that may require draining. It's a problem Piazza has experienced before, but not in quite a while. The shift of positions is something I'm going to take a hard look at in the off-season. (If you're a bit hoppy, feel free to start in. Some of the best research I've seen lately is from my readers. You'll see the results soon.) Also, Kazuo Matsui found that while his back problem is not structural, the spasms are not responding to treatment. The shortstop might head to the DL while further treatment attempts to quiet the symptoms. I'm told Matsui is a bit disillusioned with New York, leaving a trade (to Seattle?) as a possibility in the off-season.

  • The cushion that the Cardinals have built is starting to pay off. Chris Carpenter left Wednesday's game with back spasms as his catcher, Mike Matheny, saved him from further damage. Matheny saw that Carpenter's mechanics were changing and brought the trainer out. According to Matthew Leach at MLB.com, Carpenter doesn't have a history of back problems.

  • When the good news is that there's no "gap" in your ace's elbow, that's bad. Kevin Millwood is now expected to miss the rest of 2004 due to a sprained ligament and tendon in his pitching elbow. Though most reports keep the possibility of his return open, Millwood won't throw again until mid-September at best, making it unlikely he could return before the last week of the season. Unless the Phillies make a big turnaround, that won't be necessary.

    The Phillies did get Vicente Padilla back on Tuesday. Padilla went five innings while on a strict pitch count of 70. He threw just 63 of those allotted pitches, walking none while striking out five, and did not factor in the decision.

  • George Steinbrenner may want Gary Sheffield out in right field, but Sheffield may take himself out of the lineup for a couple days. Sheffield is considering another cortisone injection in his injured shoulder due to continued and worsening pain. It's a major concern for the Yankees, since the absence of Sheffield would force them to use Kenny Lofton or Ruben Sierra in right. Sheffield will have off-season surgery; for now, watch how this plays out. A DL stint and reduced playing time are both possible, but their probability is open to question.

  • Did I mention luck earlier? As with clutch/choke, I believe a bit more in the negative that the positive. It's at least a plausible explanation for the problems the Yankees have had this season. The latest case is Javier Vazquez, who will miss a start with pinkeye. The highly contagious infection is not a significant problem, given proper treatment, but the medical staff will have to watch the rest of the team closely. In close proximity, as with school classes and baseball clubs, transmission has a high probability vector. In better news, my best Yankee source tells me that Jason Giambi is making "great leaps forward. He'll be back sooner than anyone's letting on."

  • It's been a long time coming, but the Mariners finally admitted that Rafael Soriano would need Tommy John surgery. I'd heard the whispers but never been able to put a solid case together to let you know, but I hope the red flags I waved helped someone. Soriano is done for 2005, and the Mariners anticipate him being limited to the pen when he does return. Worse, the M's also lost their current closer, Eddie Guardado. A torn rotator cuff will require major surgery, also forcing him to miss much or all of 2005. Guardado will be seeking another opinion before going under the knife. For all the praise Bryan Price has been given, I don't see the results.

  • Derek Nicholson, normally a Tigers farmhand, was sent home from the Olympics after failing a required drug test. While the specific drug has not been made public, sources in Greece (yeah, I have 'em everywhere) tell me it was a steroid called "Deca," a form of nandrolone. This is the third recent positive steroid test in minor-league baseball, but despite testing going on around MLB, there have been no positive tests. From five percent positive to zero in a year? I can't explain it.

  • Let's do a quick run around the minors.... Chin-Hui Tsao will be allowed to play for Taiwan in the Olympics, but the Rockies asked for some conditions, including pitch limits ... Justin Huber has a knee injury that may have occurred before his recent move to Kansas City. The Mets and Royals figure to settle this amicably ... The Angels have shut down Ervin Santana for the season. An MRI showed no structural damage, but he's battled tendonitis for more than a month.

  • I'll even check in overseas, where the Mariners might feel a bit good about waving goodbye to Kazuhiro Sasaki. The former M's closer was not only left off the Olympic team, but has lost his roster spot for the Bay Stars. Sasaki is not in a decline; it's a free fall.

  • Quick Cuts: Brett Tomko went six innings, giving up five hits on Tuesday. Not special, you say? He had a relief outing on Saturday, between starts. It's viable. Roy Halladay is throwing again. He'll be back on a mound sometime in mid-September Scott Williamson is headed for more tests on his forearm. He could be done for the season based on a full reset to his rehab Joe Mauer was in Cleveland today for another opinion on his injured knee. Results should be in tomorrow, at which time Mauer may make a decision on surgery Fernando Vina is out for the season with a partial tear to his patellar tendon. This is a recurrent problem for Vina and he will likely have surgery to correct the problem ... Todd Greene heads to the DL, opening a roster slot for young catcher J.D. Closser. Yeah, he's on my fantasy roster despite the Rockies horrible track record with catchers Joe Kennedy returned to the Rockies with a slightly altered motion. He's throwing less across his body, despite coming across more being a point of emphasis for him in the off-season. It was thought the motion would help his sinker, but it was obviously an untenable biomechanical change Ryan Freel left Tuesday's game with a knee injury.

Today is the last day for Shea Pizza Feed signups. Be sure to contact Josh Orenstein by close of business Wednesday or you'll miss out! This week's BPR should be archived soon, so check that out as well. Any NYC dining tips would be appreciated.

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