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May 26, 2005

Under The Knife

Needing Access

by Will Carroll

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Comcast has forced me to the Lucky Bean Café, the owners of which were kind enough to leave me a key and their Wi-Fi so that I can get in tonight's report. No Internet access and no home phone has reminded me just how reliant we all are on this contraption, the one that keeps me in a job and Carlos Zambrano off the mound.

At least I got to spend the day in the sun, watching a mismatch between the Reds and Nationals, keeping my streak of never catching a foul ball alive. (Never even been close.) A bad game in the sun is better than a good day almost anywhere else.

Powered by the kindness of strangers, on to the injuries ...

  • You don't often hear "plate inserted in his hand" and "back quicker" in the same sentence. For Javy Lopez and the Orioles, the decision to surgically attach a plate to his broken fifth metacarpal (outside of his hand, opposite the thumb) on his throwing hand will get him back in the lineup a couple weeks earlier. The other option was allowing the bone to heal on its own, which of course means the use of bone stimulators, braces and other techniques. Once back, players with this injury do show problems throwing and some loss of power. It's probable that Lopez will DH well before he's able to catch. I guess the "wearing down because he catches too much" problem is solved.

  • Joe Mauer can't take games off without ending up in UTK. That's just the way we roll. Mauer's not having trouble with his surgically repaired knee. That's going well, with no problems since spring training and a well-managed treatment and workload program maximizing his talent. Good on the Twins and credit to their new training staff. What Mauer does have is a sore groin. Sources wouldn't even go as far as saying that the groin was strained, just sore. The Twins have gone extra innings a couple times lately so the workload has been a bit higher. Add in the management of his playing time and expect the couple days off and not much more. I think Ron Gardenhire doesn't get as much credit nationally as he deserves.

  • A.J. Burnett liked what he heard from Jim Andrews this week, making Jack McKeon happy with what he heard from Burnett. The inflammation in the elbow is not the result of a tear, meaning Burnett will throw this weekend and get back to the mound early next week, perhaps against Pittsburgh next Tuesday. Expect Burnett to be challenged to follow his teammates and go "P-TEC," the new acronym for "pitch to early contact." This strategy isn't new to Mark Wiley and the Marlins, but it's working. The Marlins pitchers attempt to induce hitters to hit their pitch on the first and second deliveries, keeping their counts down and making use of the defense. After those pitches, they go back to a more normal "missing bats, looking strikeout" mindset. This isn't the normal pitch to contact plan--the Fish don't groove the ball and play the odds. This one's probably going to spread around the league if there's not some breakdown.

  • Add this to reasons to love baseball: Among ESPN Radio, XM's Home Plate channel and MLB Radio, nothing much gets by and one of them will have nearly every story covered in depth. Steroid story? I'm on with Charley Steiner for 15 minutes. Roger Clemens may have a groin problem? Rob Dibble asks Phil Garner point-blank about the problem and gets an answer that didn't come from Advanced Cliché 201 class. Clemens is sore, Garner said, something echoed in the statement Clemens himself gave out on Wednesday. It's too early to tell if the problem in his push leg will keep him out of his next scheduled start, though signs are looking like he'll be at least delayed.

  • I was hoping to get more information about Paul Wilson while I was at the game Wednesday, but my lack of access prevented that. Life goes on. My sources give me what I need to know anyway. The diagnosis on Wilson is simple tendonitis, used as a catch-all for "something's wrong and we're not sure if it's an injury or just Wilson wearing down." Matt Belisle looked good, especially when he spotted the change-up, so the Reds won't need to rush. There were lots of scouts on hand, meaning the Danny Graves situation should get hot early next week. Reds scouts were on hand in San Francisco Tuesday, if that's any clue, and Seattle might be checking out the situation as well.

  • The Jays will be without Corey Koskie for the better part of June, after surgery on Wednesday repaired the fractured thumb as well as associated ligament damage on his right hand. The tear was more significant than expected, leading some sources to believe that Koskie will be out more towards the six-week mark of his expected four- to six-week timeframe. After all these sliding injuries, maybe Congress will look into banning those.

  • Early reports came pretty fast and furious regarding Kevin Millwood. After leaving the game in the fifth, initial reports and the first-impression video certainly indicated that Millwood had a problem with his pitching elbow. Later reports said that Millwood had a right groin strain. It doesn't explain the reaction, but there are two factors here that make me lean to the groin explanation. First, the reactions aren't always what you'd expect; second, Lonnie Soloff and his medical team aren't usually smokeblowers. We'll watch this one to see how severe the problem is over the next few days. Have a Plan B.

  • As if the Cubs didn't have enough problems with that goat, some people are trying to drum up a "cursed chair" in the Cubs clubhouse. Mike Remlinger supposedly broke his finger in the chair, pinching it between two recliners. Since this comes just days after it was expected he would hit the DL with shoulder problems--and the move was needed to get Sergio Mitre active--color me dubious. The chair is supposed to be involved in Sammy Sosa's sneeze injury as well as a couple more in the last two years. Seriously, that chair is the least of the team's problems, even if it were dripping blood and speaking in tongues.

  • Watching Jason Romano (just called up) and Ken Griffey Jr. running around "The Gap" yesterday, I'm reminded that medical science is amazing. Tim Kremchek had both of them under the knife just a few months ago, doing an operation that hadn't been done in baseball. Neither of them had a noticeable limp, though Griffey is certainly not sprinting much or testing his legs trying to leg out an extra base. Giants fans should take solace; there's no good comp for Armando Benitez, a pitcher, but if his results are as good, well, I don't know what more they could want.

  • The first MRI gave inconclusive results for Brandon Lyon. Lyon is not, as has been reported, a Tommy John guy; he had ulnar nerve transposition surgery in 2004, which admittedly is usually done post-TJ. For his part, Lyon is playing catch, so there's certainly positive signs. Late word came in that Lyon's second MRI came back with some "problem areas," according to the team's official site. It looks like picking up Brian Bruney was the smart move.

  • Quick Cuts: If you've already got your copies of The Juice and Forging Genius, get your order in for Jerry Crasnick's new book License to Deal. It's the next must-read baseball book … Denials all around regarding Keith Foulke and a quick trip to Birmingham … Brewer comings and goings--Ben Sheets will pitch this weekend, but expect Russell Branyan to head to the DL this weekend in a retro move. The roster shifts could give Rickie Weeks a cameo … Barry Bonds was one of 10 Giants randomly selected for drug testing on Wednesday. We still don't have much indication what the time from test to result is, but it certainly isn't more than a couple weeks ... Rich Harden is back throwing a baseball. There were no negative results from a game of light catch on Tuesday ... This is going to pass. Prep the lawsuits and unintended consequences. Of course, placing this all under our do-nothing drug czar renders it moot … The whisper campaign against Art Howe appears to be working. That's sad … Vicente Padilla has a new injury. He'll miss his next start with a mild back problem. No DL this time.

If you haven't set your radio dial or podcast for this week's BPR, you'll miss out. B.J. Upton will talk about being a top prospect and the brother of a top prospect, as well as life in the Devil Ray organization. Back tomorrow.

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