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April 22, 2005

Under The Knife

More Bad Cubs News

by Will Carroll

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There are days where you learn who your friends really are, which people to talk to and who not to, and that sometimes despite your best intentions, things don't always work out for everyone. Injuries teach us that we can make our best efforts, work hard and do all the right things, only to see it all washed away by some fluke occurrence. Of course, it's just as likely that good things happen as bad, something we all need to remember.

On to the injuries ...

  • The news on Nomar Garciaparra was as bad as that picture looked. The reason Garciaparra doubled over was not a strained groin, it was an avulsion. That means the tendon literally tore away from the bone.

    It's possible, though unlikely, that Garciaparra could return with the muscle detached and have some level of effectiveness, but even this unlikely scenario would take two to three months to occur. The more likely course, one the Cubs medical staff admits is now in Garciaparra's hands, is surgery. It would need to occur within the week to be most effective and it would in effect end his 2005. For Cubs fans, this is a devastating blow, one that could potentially mark the end of Garciaparra as an elite player.

    There were several e-mails asking if this injury could be steroid related. Since Garciaparra has neither tested positive nor admitted steroid use prior to the testing policy, I have no evidence either way, and neither does anyone else. As far as replacing him goes, in addition to the Phillies' instant rumor, expect the names Julio Lugo and Alex Cora to come up.

  • The Cubs got better news from their pitching staff. Carlos Zambrano won't miss a start with a small blister on his pitching hand, Kerry Wood is working on a mechanical flaw he thinks has affected his command, and Joe Borowski threw off a mound. He'll try spinning a couple from flat ground this weekend and could be headed for the minors by the end of the week.

  • With Rocco Baldelli on schedule, as reported yesterday, it's time to answer the flood of e-mails about some other ACL rehabs. Lance Berkman is doing well, taking BP and running at "good pace." "Good pace" is a bit vague, probably more than a jog and less than a run. In horse racing, a trot, I think. The Astros think that Berkman could start a rehab assignment before the first of May.

  • Another ACL rehab is going on in Anaheim...or Los Angeles...or who knows where with Adam Kennedy. The Angels second baseman is a bit ahead of schedule and is also on track to start a rehab assignment before the first of May. He's playing in extended spring training and is only awaiting doctor's clearance before heading to Salt Lake.

  • Jody Gerut is yet another of last season's rash of ACL sufferers and as he comes along, playing in a few extended spring training games, we're reminded that Juan Gonzalez has yet to make even one appearance. With Gerut's return in sight and some great minor-league hitting prospects in the system like Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Aubrey, Gonzalez may not even be needed before long.

  • It's not just flu that was working on Ben Sheets, it was a recurrence of his vestibular neuritis. Recurrence is rare, occurring in only a small portion of sufferers, so this bears watching. Sheets, even in weakened, dizzy and nauseated condition, pitched reasonably well on Wednesday, a testament to his guts and talent. It's unclear if his hospitalization will cause him to have his start pushed back or to even miss a turn.

  • With Justin Morneau coming off the DL and Carlos Silva returning tomorrow, things were looking up for the Twins. It was expected that one of their four active catchers, most likely Corky Miller, would be sent down to make room for Silva. Instead, Mike Redmond may be headed to the DL after a home plate collision appeared to injure his shoulder. With the catching surplus, erring on the side of caution with Redmond is certainly possible, especially if the team is more confident in Joe Mauer's ability to get behind the plate four times a week.

  • The Mets are getting a bit healthier. Kris Benson was able to complete a bullpen session Thursday with no problems. He'll continue to work on stamina and command, working towards a rehab start late next week if all goes well. Mike Cameron is also making progress coming back from his wrist complications. He's ready to begin swinging a bat soon and while he's still at least ten days away from a rehab stint, it's certainly the most positive report on Cameron this season.

  • Just to clarify: the second out clause for Magglio Ordonez, mentioned yesterday, relates back to the repaired knee. His health is still in just as much question. He was examined today by another hernia expert with results not known as I write this, though reports from the first examination give some hope of a reasonably quick, four- to six-week return timetable if it is "just" a hernia.

  • Quick Cuts: Last year, many of you sent well wishes to my mother as she faced cancer surgery and it was one of the warmest moments in my life. She's facing some more surgery early next month, so if you could keep her in your thoughts, I'd appreciate it I talked about new pitches being unveiled last week. So far, my only confirmed pitch is Brett Myers with a cutter. Barry Zito is said to have unveiled a slurve, but I can't find it on MLB.tv Adam Everett left Thursday's game with a hamstring injury. Early reports sound like it's not too serious, but he could be out a couple days Antonio Alfonseca will have an MRI on his elbow after having "significant pain" while throwing. El Pulpo has had a million health problems, though never in his throwing elbow A trio of Reds are making various levels of progress. Luke Hudson's shoulder is healing, Josh Hancock is ready to throw again, and Ramon Ortiz will come back off the DL at the end of the month.

If anyone knows how to reach sabermetrician Craig Wright, would you be so kind as to drop me an email or give him mine? Have a great weekend and go watch or play some baseball after you listen to BP Radio.

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