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May 10, 2005

Under The Knife

Is It or Isn't It?

by Will Carroll

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No long intro, but I'll again remind everyone to check out BP Radio this weekend. The name I can tell you is Michael Lewis. The name I can't well, you'll see. I'm also headed to Chicago to get some interviews on the iPod.

Powered by a Goose Island 312 and the new Gorillaz album, on to the injuries

  • After Troy Percival hit the DL with an injury sounding as complex as "partially torn flexor pronator muscle mass," the e-mails starting coming in, especially from Brad Wochomurka. Brad--my co-host on BP Radio--is a big Tigers fan and he wanted an explanation of what was going on. Percival has an injury that is somewhat similar to Andy Pettitte's last year, but more related to the Tommy John injuries we see all too frequently. A recent study from Kerlan-Jobe indicates that the flexor pronator muscle mass helps the ulnar collateral ligament do its job, while another study, this time from ASMI, indicates that the FPMM may be more susceptible to singular events than the slow weardown seen in the UCL. Since Percival has only a partial tear, the six weeks he'll spend healing is probably time well spent given his history of arm problems. The Tigers have plenty of closer options--Ugueth Urbina, Franklyn German--to employ while Percival heals.

  • Is it or isn't it? "It," in this case, is the labrum of Wade Miller and the question is whether Miller has not only a frayed rotator cuff but a torn labrum in his medical history. Sources differ with some saying yes, Miller had both, and some saying the Red Sox wouldn't have gone after him if there were labrum problems. The location of the labrum makes assessing its health difficult even with modern imaging techniques. Because of this and the vagaries of magnetic resonance images, there are often differences of opinions. Until a labrum injury is symptomatic, the current sports med thinking is to ignore it as much as possible, allowing the pitching coach to handle the external mechanics.

  • While Tony Armas Jr. says hello, returning from a long rehab process, Jose Vidro says goodbye. Armas' groin is at full strength, leaving only the never-ending questions about his arm and durability left to fill column inches. His rehab stint was average at best, with a decent strikeout rate and a lot of hits and homers allowed. Vidro had no change with his ankle sprain. The team, however, decided it needed the slot after losing a number of players over the past couple weeks. Being in the hunt helps ticket sales, even for a team in its "new market honeymoon."

  • It's pretty clear, at least from this seat, that Luis Castillo is having a cascade problem running up and down his leg. It's been his hip flexor, hamstring and quad in quick succession. Castillo's had some structural problems in the past and I'm getting conflicting messages on whether the latest problems could be related to them. In any case, he seems to be taxed by explosive, quick movements, even in straight lines. A rest or even a DL stint could help heal it, but this is reaching the chronic stage quickly. That would leave Castillo as a speedy player without the ability to play speedy.

  • Specialists being called in isn't necessarily a bad sign. Of course, they're certainly not a good sign, either. Most teams have felt the dread of "go see Andrews" for one of their pitchers. Phillies phans are pheeling it now. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Jim Thome is headed to see Robert Watkins. The check is mostly just to make sure he's on track with his assigned rehab and that he'll be able to come off the DL at the minimum. Even so, back injuries are notorious powersappers. Note that Ryan Howard is healthy and hitting like an injured Thome.

  • For all the great work that St. Orel is performing with the Rangers pitchers, a lot of guys are coming up lame in the bullpen. Carlos Almanzar is the latest to head for the operating table, this time for Tommy John surgery. Almanzar is nearly the definition of replacement-level reliever, but at some point, the constant stream of fallen bodies will make even replacement players difficult to find, putting more pressure on the starters and the minor-league system. There's no clear reason that the bullpen is falling off--perhaps Hershiser is just extracting every last ounce of use from a group of pitchers--but it's worth trying to figure out.

  • The Reds finally pushed Wily Mo Pena to the DL with his lingering quad strain. (Does anyone know if Mo is a first, middle or last name?) Pena will be a retro move, allowing the team a bit more roster flexibility, despite their continued rotation of outfielders that's pushed Austin Kearns aside for regular doses of Ryan Freel, a player better suited for the utility role. Pena will be back quickly, something not so clear for Ben Weber. Weber heads to the DL with a neck injury. Weber has a disc problem related to a similar problem last year. The Reds aren't sure when he'll be available again and the way he's pitched lately--albeit perhaps due to this injury--they're not rushing to find out.

  • Before I rant about Carlos Zambrano going 136 pitches, I'll point out that I'd rather ask Dusty Baker about it tomorrow. There just simply isn't any reasonable explanation for it, so I'm curious if Dusty will discuss his thought process on it at all. That said, I was a bit more disturbed by Josh Beckett's 50-pitch inning. Neither pitcher should be faced with that type of workload, but in a world where high-school kids are doing both regularly with hardly the maturity or support system, I'll focus my energies elsewhere.

  • Quick Cuts: Great, great article by Jeff Passan. This is the scary problem that baseball must face Don't expect Joe Kennedy to make his next scheduled start, after a minor ankle injury Khalil Greene was activated from the DL and should experience no problems with his finger Thanks to everyone, from Macworld magazine to Apple engineers and several other helpful readers that helped me fix my Tiger/MLB.tv conflict. The answer? Windows Media settings for network protocols Baseball America confirms yesterday's report that Stephen Drew has an injured foot. The report doesn't make it sound serious Hideo Nomo left his start in the sixth with some kind of leg injury. Early reports call it cramping

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