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May 6, 2005

Under The Knife

Closing Out the Week

by Will Carroll

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A quick reminder to check out BP Radio this weekend, then right to the injuries...

  • Watching Manny Ramirez in the outfield reminds us why they invented the DH. It can't be easy, playing in the shadow of the Monstah, but Ramirez's trademark nonchalant awkwardness is only cute because he flat mashes at the plate. It gets worrisome, however, when that same awkward style causes some problems for him physically. Ramirez slightly sprained his ankle out in the field, giving the Red Sox another reason to rest him. Having Ramirez in left field gives the Red Sox significantly more flexibility than if he were a full-time DH, so don't expect any changes there or any worries for Ramirez's ankle going forward.

  • One of the things I try to tell the young pitchers I work with is that it's very important to try to keep your mechanics consistent at all times, whether you're playing catch, throwing long toss or pitching in a game. I'm not sure how wearing an immobilizing boot would change pitching mechanics, though I'm sure it would somehow. That didn't stop Curt Schilling from working his arm out while he waits out his ankle problems. There's still no firm date for his return. It's clear that he'll do everything he can to make the rehab as short as possible, with perhaps only one minor-league start to test it once he's out of the immobilizer.

  • Seldom is coughing and sneezing a plus, especially given the nasty flu going around baseball in the past few weeks. For Jason Isringhausen, sneezing and coughing are a test of his strained abdominal muscles and so far, no problem. He'll come off the DL when eligible on May 11 and jump right back into the closer role, though he'll likely be eased back in terms of back to back opportunities and keeping his outings as short as possible initially. The Cards also hope to get Cal Eldred back at some point this summer, though the date is very unclear. He's just getting back into conditioning workouts after a severe viral infection.

  • There's been a significant amount of speculation around Jeff Bagwell. He's the type of player who doesn't give much away, despite the completely wrecked condition of his shoulders. My pal Lee Sinins calls Bagwell the top first baseman of all time, and while that seems hyperbolic, it's clear that he's underappreciated. Bagwell gets cortisone injections every six weeks to keep him on the field, so missing time with nearly two weeks to go before his next needle is definitely worrisome. If you're relying on Bagwell for power, it might make sense to get a calendar and figure out the weeks preceding the cortisone. As this injury continues to slowly deteriorate, Bagwell faces some decisions about when to call it a (great) career. The Astros might have the opportunity to use Lance Berkman at first base in Bagwell's absence. Berkman will be activated for Friday's game.

  • Andruw Jones is missing some time with a sore back. Some have speculated that the injury is what's held his stats down. Jones was hitting for serious power in spring training and it's rumored that his desire to hit 40 or more homers this season after a downtick in dingers during 2004 may have forced him to overtorque his swing. It does seem that the soreness does follow bursts of power, so there's something there--or just an interesting coincidence. Keep your eye not only on the power, but if the injury slows him a step in the field.

  • The Dodgers have done well without Eric Gagne and some reports, including those by Kevin Kennedy on XM Radio, indicate that he's still having some difficulty with the elbow. That makes me wonder, but let's give the benefit of the doubt to the Dodgers and their medical staff; they certainly wouldn't risk losing Gagne for a long period of time. Gagne is expected to start a rehab assignment in the next week, putting him to be back in Dodger blue by the following weekend. Jayson Werth is also headed to Vegas. If you are, I recommend a fine dinner at Mesa Grill in Caesars.

  • Kris Benson didn't go deep into his first start, not making it out of the fifth, though this was expected. He had no real problem with the previously injured pectoral muscle and figures to build stamina as he returns to normal. Mike Cameron had a more successful return, going 2-for-4 and showing no ill effects from the lingering wrist injury. There is a recurrence risk while he's being showcased.

  • Could the presence of Frank Thomas improve the streaking White Sox? It's hard to imagine that being possible given their record, but it's equally hard to imagine the future Baseball Immortal not adding an element to the team that they've missed. The only question will be slotting him in and keeping him happy on the days that he's not in the lineup. Given the state of his ankle, he'll need multiple days off per week and will do little more than DH. Don't expect any triples--not that you were--and look for perhaps a bit more swinging for the fences. It's easier to jog around the bases than to run and stand.

  • The Mariners lose a veteran presence, if you believe in the value of such things, with Dan Wilson tearing his ACL. There's talk that he'll retire and go into coaching. Even if not, it's unlikely that he'll be able to return this season. The injury isn't more severe than the other ACL injuries we've seen recently, it's just that his position and age definitely work against him in this case. No two injuries are alike, even when they're similar.

  • Quick Cuts: Ben Sheets is making good progress. Signs point to a start early next week Khalil Greene will be activated on Monday. There's a slight chance it will happen on Sunday, since his rehab is going very well Randy Johnson caught the flu. His start Monday is a bit of a question mark Test results on Jason Giambi show just a mild concussion after being hit in the head with a pitch The Tigers are worried about Kyle Farnsworth, after his arm came up sore. So far, it's being called biceps tendonitis Wily Mo Pena is back on the bench after his quadriceps was reinjured. The DL is possible No more batting practice! Woody Williams is on the DL after injuring his oblique taking cuts The Angels are still waiting for Ben Molina to heal up. He's a bit behind their expectations, but should be activated next week I had a little fun with pitching mechanics yesterday. Wi-Fi is amazing for waiting rooms.

I'd like to thank everyone that sent my mother or me their best wishes. Things went well yesterday and she's back home. I'll be back next week.

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