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April 26, 2005

Under The Knife

Spring Cleaning Edition

by Will Carroll

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Tuesday's an exciting day for me. "The Juice" hits the streets, I do my Indy radio show (4 pm EST on ESPN950.com), I do pitching lessons in the evening, and my house gets cleaned. It makes me feel profoundly lazy to admit that we have a cleaning service, but I enjoy talking baseball with Maurice. It's hardly "Tuesdays with Maurice," despite the similar name. Maurice likes talking baseball while making sure there are no cobwebs and I like writing about baseball rather than cleaning. In life and in baseball, we should all stick to the things we do well and figure out what we don't or shouldn't do.

On to the injuries:

  • What Manny Ramirez does well is hit. Unfortunately, he got hit this weekend in the beanball fracas in St. Pete. While we often consider the consequences of the post-bean shoving match, unless there's a scary Dickie Thon or Justin Morneau moment, we seldom consider the physical consequences. Players try to be macho, pretending that the hard pellet that just impacted their ribs at 90 mph didn't even sting, but the bruises and even cuts those pitches can inflict take their toll. Ramirez is feeling not only that pitch, but a sore quad as well. Terry Francona will smartly buy him a bit of rest by DHing him and giving him a day off or two in the next week.

  • There was likely a bit of déjà vu when David Wells hurt his foot on a defensive play. There were some marked similarities to the play where Curt Schilling first injured his now-hallowed ankle. Wells doesn't appear headed down the same path, either to injury or mythology. He'll get treatment and a decision will be made on his next start by Friday. With Wade Miller on the horizon, expect the Red Sox to get very conservative with their pitchers on even minor injuries.

  • The Phillies are experiencing a power outage, but Pat Burrell has been everything the team had hoped he'd be this season. A groin injury isn't going to derail him, but it will keep him on the sidelines for a couple days. There's little chance that he'll end up on the DL and just a slightly greater chance that he'll miss more than a few games. Burrell may even get some time at first in the near future to save him some wear. For those in cheap one-start eligibility leagues, Placido Polanco replaced Burrell in left field on Monday.

  • The Phillies are growing more concerned with Jim Thome's back and his lack of power to date. Thome still has big money and big years on his big contract and with little flexibility--the Phillies have nearly all their starters under long-term deals--the team has to hope that Thome can heal up and power up. If you thought the team was holding onto Ryan Howard just because they're stubborn, think again.

  • Chad Fox came and, just as quickly, Chad Fox went. He left Monday's game with an apparent arm injury, possibly a recurrence of last year's ulnar neuritis. Fox has also undergone a pair of Tommy Johns, so anything is possible when it comes to his elbow. The Cubs will need to find another closer and sources with the team say that Michael Wuertz will probably get the next shot while they await the return of Joe Borowski. Don't think LaTroy Hawkins will go back to the role--Dusty Baker doesn't trust him to close games.

  • Nomar Garciaparra has elected to have a "halfway" surgery, not reattaching the avulsed tendon, but clearing the way for the area to heal. The procedure will be done on Wednesday and as far as I can tell, hasn't been done in baseball. The timetable is still, at best, two to three months out. However, there is a pretty interesting comparison to what Ken Griffey is going through and perhaps other parallels. In radio, we'd call this a tease; I'll have a lot more information tomorrow after talking with someone with a unique perspective on both these injuries.

  • Yes, the injury is roughly the same as the one that derailed his spring training. Still, Kerry Wood is insisting that he'll make his next start and really, there's no one else there that will stop him. Seemingly hellbent on seeing just how far they can push one of the best young staffs in baseball, the Cubs are as likely as not to see it blow up in their face. This would be the perfect time to remind themselves that Glendon Rusch worked well as a starter last year, or it might be nice to see Angel Guzman get a cup of coffee.

  • For all the worry about Oliver Perez, he's shown no sign of anything other than being out of shape and ill-prepared to pitch. Given that, it's hardly unexpected that at some point he'd suddenly return to form. One start isn't enough to say he's back to dealer status. However, outdueling Roy Oswalt with a near no-hitter certainly makes a strong case. It's clear that his slider is back, as seven of the nine Astros he struck out can attest. If you can buy low, well, your league really isn't much of a challenge, is it?

  • If we talk about comfort, we have to mention Chipper Jones. Jones has been a bad defensive third baseman throughout his career, this season's small sample aside. Still, he seems decidedly more comfortable there, something that has to be factored in. Unfortunately, the stats don't seem to back it up. There's almost no change between his numbers as a 3B and as an OF. However, Jones has been very comfortable given his recent torrid hitting, so it's unfortunate that a bruised left foot is keeping him out of the lineup. He could be back as soon as tomorrow, though Wednesday is much more likely.

  • Quick Cuts: No one talk to Neifi Perez. Don't touch him. Don't go near him. Consider him armed and dangerous or infectious. Something, anything, to continue seeing one of the worst players in the majors play like one of the best. I'm always surprised at the game of baseball, but Perez putting up a .328 EqA and a VORP that puts him squarely in his 3,200th PECOTA percentile is among those things I may always remember... Kiko Calero isn't making progress and even the A's are saying that he's likely headed to the DL, even if it's a short retro move that gives them a bit of bullpen freshening... Charlotte to Chicago flights are pretty easy to find, being two major hubs. Brandon McCarthy is packed and ready if Jose Contreras can't go this weekend... Did the meeting between Randy Johnson and Chris Young remind anyone else of the meeting between a young, wild Johnson and Nolan Ryan?... Hyperbole... Barry Bonds is back off crutches.

I'll be back tomorrow with all the injury news and scoop, plus more new info on BP Radio.

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