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August 20, 2004

Under The Knife

Clean Bill

by Will Carroll

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Wrigley Field may be falling apart, but I'm feeling much better, thank you very much. Another weekend of baseball with great matchups, plus the second weekend of the Olympics will have Tivo in high gear. I wish there was even more coverage of the Games, or rather, less coverage of things I don't have interest in. I know that's a selfish view, but does anyone really watch race walking? I'd like a little more team handball, less swimming trunks painfully close to being pornographic, and someone to challenge the Japanese baseball team. I'll settle for less Pat O'Brien, however.

Powered by The Official Drink of the 2004 Summer Games, on to the injuries...

  • The Yankees will have to wait a bit longer for Jason Giambi to return. During his rehab from his tumor/parasite episode, Giambi has strained his groin. It should only set him back a matter of days. According to multiple reports, Giambi is making progress in leaps. "It's like Garret Anderson," said one team source. "Way quicker than we would have expected." Despite the Bronx's eager acceptance of Tony Clark, it's important to note that even a return to his 10% PECOTA projection would give Giambi the edge over Clark's actual season numbers.

  • In the annals of Wall vs. Player, there are few stories that end with the player winning the battle. Chalk another up for Wall in this timeless rivalry, as Torii Hunter is the latest casualty. Reports conflict on the damage done, with the Twins saying Hunter has whiplash, while others say that Hunter left the field grabbing his shoulder. Either way, Hunter is likely to miss a couple games. It's not as if the Twins are without options in the outfield. The cushion they have over the Indians gives them just enough time to rest Hunter if needed.

  • Things look better today for the Mets, as the black clouds of doom cleared a little on Thursday. At some point, though, it really isn't that much better to be drowned by the flood rather than struck by the lightning. They don't write books about failures; there's no Paths to Ignominy coming as a sequel.

    Victor Zambrano has only a mild strain of his flexor muscle, down from his previously swollen flexor tendon. My sources tell me "if this were the playoffs, he could pitch." It's not, he won't for a couple weeks, and it's conceivable that his season is over. The Mets are backing off Steve Trachsel slightly. Expect him to come out of his next start early and for the Mets to rest him if his fatigued shoulder barks during his Friday start. Trachsel has two more years on his Mets deal, so they need to be careful with him.

  • There's no truth to the rumblings that Roger Clemens pulled up a bit lame in hopes that he could skip out of the rest of the drain-circling the Astros face. Clemens isn't much for stretching, running, or hitting, so combining a couple of those activities is rife with problems. The mild strain isn't serious enough to keep Clemens from pitching, however. The Astros actually need Clemens to pitch deep now more than ever. The bullpen has been an unholy mess, and with young, untested pitchers in the rotation outside of Clemens and Roy Oswalt, the bullpen could use a seven-inning outing once or twice a week.

  • The Angels are getting their hopes up. Jarrod Washburn has been able to throw from a mound without significant pain over the past couple days, so they are planning for a rehab assignment early next week. That puts his return at the September 1 roster expansion, giving the Angels some flexibility in handling the roster through their myriad injuries. Kelvim Escobar, at least, doesn't look to add to Mike Scioscia's pile of problems. His blister isn't serious enough to keep him out of his next start. With the injuries they've had and the associated runs they've lost, if they are able to make the playoffs, I'm giving my full Fred McGriff endorsement to Scioscia for manager of the year.

  • While many have said that the injury to Brad Penny has colored the trade, knowing that Paul Lo Duca is playing injured helps balance that somewhat. Lo Duca is playing with broken fingers, never easy for a catcher or someone who has to, you know, grip a bat. Lo Duca will try to fight through, but at best he'll lose power, need more rest, and may at some point be forced to the bench. Once again, game logs are an invaluable tool, pointing the way to where Lo Duca lost his power stroke (August 6).

  • Somehow, I missed Kip Wells missing a start. Worse, Wells is heading back to the Iron City for an MRI. The Bucs are calling this a precaution, but Wells' elbow is described by a team source as "point tender and puffy." With several Pirates prospects coming up in the next few weeks, pushing Wells would be among the more foolish courses the team could take. They'd be much better pointing Wells at 2005 and seeing a couple more starts from John Van Benschoten, Ian Snell, or even Bryan Bullington.

  • The Dodgers acquired Elmer Dessens to help fill in their now decimated bullpen. The Dodgers Web site had an interesting factlette: "In Dessens' first 30 pitches in a game, opponents have hit .266. Over the next 30 pitches they hit .322." I have no idea what this statistic tells us. Dessens has hit the 30-pitch mark in only seven of his last 25 outings. Some pitchers have deceptive abilities that don't withstand a second trip through the lineup, but 30 pitches barely gets Dessens through a second inning. I'd point to a lack of stamina, but there's no solid evidence for that either. Sometimes, pitchers just suck.

  • Quick Cuts: Ever thought, "Hey, I can do that. I've got a glove and a bit of range to my right"? If so, now's your chance. The Mets are running out of middle infield options with Joe McEwing's leg injury … Travis Hafner is expected to play through a sore elbow. Chips will require surgery after the season … The Angels are looking for another bat. Shea Hillenbrand could be the next ex-Diamondback … Bet you're still trying to figure out what the official drink is … Rusty Greer has given up his quest to return to the field, but he's still someone I'd want on my bench. I bet he has a long career as a base coach ahead of him …

Be sure to save some time this weekend for BP Radio. Not only will I have last week's edition up soon (with Brian Cashman and Joel Sherman), this week's will have Joe Sheehan, Austin Kearns, and Eric Neel. I'll be back next week, but if you can't find me, look to the western sky.

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