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June 2, 2005

Under The Knife

Drive Time

by Will Carroll

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Driving six hours round-trip is a good way to catch up on phone calls. I made the trip up to Chicago yesterday, getting a chance to do some media, including one of the fastest hours I've ever done on radio with WGN's Dave Kaplan and Tom Waddle. On the way home, I had one of the more enlightening calls in recent memory regarding drugs in professional sports, talking with a PGA golfer about the problems in his sport. According to this source, the use of amphetamines and ADHD drugs is rampant, much as it is in other sports. My question to Sen. McCain and Rep. Stearns is: Why is golf excepted from the Clean Sports Act? Why isn't professional wrestling, where steroid use is not only a known problem in the recent past, but where the massive bodies and need for recovery is clear, included? How about bodybuilding and powerlifting? If this bill, one that will alter the conduct and standing of sport in our society, why not cover all professional sports rather than just the ones that get Congress on TV?

Powered by a big mug full of fresh Peet's New Guinea, on to the injuries:

  • Francisco Rodriguez came back Wednesday night for the Angels and appeared to have made some interesting changes. I caught much of the last three innings on XM and was surprised to hear Ed Farmer describing Rodriguez's pitches as curves, rather than the devastating slider. When I got home and had a chance to check the video, Farmer was right. While it's more "slurvy" than a Barry Zito-style yellow hammer, there definitely is a change there. Unfortunately, Rodriguez was channeling Mitch Williams, walking the bases loaded before dropping the new-style breaking ball on Juan Uribe. Watch this closely; the control problems could be the result of another curve--the learning curve every pitcher has with a new pitch.

  • Brian Roberts may have his quest for All-Stardom derailed slightly by a shoulder strain in his right arm. The rotator cuff injury will be re-evaluated by the medical staff on Thursday, but appears to be relatively mild. However, the injury is affecting Roberts at the plate, keeping Lee Mazzilli from stashing him at DH. Roberts shouldn't miss significant time with the injury, though his hitting streak could play a factor in keeping him out for a couple games while he heals. His double-play partner in Baltimore--and in Detroit--showed no signs of trouble after a head-first home-plate slide on Monday. Miguel Tejada has the Oriole Shortstop karma, I guess, picking up three doubles and a homer and assuaging any concerns that he'd gone the route of Vladimir Guerrero.

  • Speaking of Guerrero, the Angels outfielder is making slow progress with his dislocated shoulder. He'll begin swinging a bat early next week and the team anticipates having him back by mid-month. This is a far cry from Guerrero's initial rose-colored assessment. Reports from Anaheim have Guerrero's range of motion as the current major problem being attacked by therapy.

  • The A's are always secretive about injury information, but the back-and-forth status reports on Rich Harden are more Clousseau than Bond. He's been listed as both ahead of schedule and behind schedule in the past 48 hours, making the assessment of his oblique injury near impossible at this stage. He's not back on the mound quite yet--that's expected over the weekend--so he's at least ten days to two weeks away from a return.

    The A's are also a bit concerned over the oddly negative non-surgical report on Octavio Dotel. Jim Andrews concurred with previous opinions, meaning Dotel will have to learn to live with the situation and with the pain his mechanics cause. Don't expect a quick return.

  • Remember what I said yesterday about private physical trainers? Curt Schilling will head to Arizona to work with one of the best of them, Mark Verstegen, for the next couple weeks in order to get back into game shape. Verstegen's Arizona facility might seem a bit new age for an old-school guy like Schilling, especially when you hear Terry Francona mentioning the "massages and spa" as features. This development puts Schilling on track for an All-Star break time frame and points to his needing special care for the rest of the season, such as extra rest and carefully considered outings.

  • The Cubs may be above .500 without Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, but no one would argue that they wouldn't be a much better team with them. The bullpen is showing signs of falling into place, and perhaps the rotation is as well. Wood had a "very good" session on the mound, throwing all his pitches and not showing any problems with his shoulder afterwards. He'll need a couple more sessions with similar results before the team has to think about a rehab assignment. Prior is closer, with the swelling in his arm coming down quickly, giving the Cubs thoughts of having him back before the All-Star break. That's still a bit aggressive.

  • Derrek Lee's breakout season has covered for the injuries to Aramis Ramirez so far this season. Ramirez has dealt with hamstring, groin, and now ankle problems, none of which seem to be related. Add in his chronic back problems and Ramirez is unlikely to play in 130 games this season, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

  • The Dodgers are unsure if Milton Bradley will head to the DL. A ligament tear in his right ring finger is an odd injury for a baseball player, though it's evidently quite common in rock climbers. I don't know what Bradley does in his free time, though I've never heard about him scaling El Capitan or anything. A decision will be made after the brace Bradley is wearing now comes off on Friday. It's a coin flip at this stage, so have Plan B ready.

  • As the Tigers shuffle their roster, looking for players who can continue a push for respectability if not competitiveness, getting Magglio Ordonez back on the field would be a big help. Ordonez is finally back hitting off a tee and playing catch. This would put a best-case return sometime around the break, though later in July is more likely. He'll certainly need some time hitting in the minors, so we'll have an indication of his return when the Tigers make that move. Expect Ordonez to see more time at DH initially. One rumor circling the Tigers is a deal of Dmitri Young to the Devil Rays for Aubrey Huff. Young would be expected to ease the transition for his phenom brother, Delmon Young.

  • The Braves sound concerned that Mike Hampton may have to skip a start after experiencing more problems in his forearm last time out. He'll have a side session today, and a decision will be made shortly thereafter on when he'll next pitch. The DL doesn't look to be a possibility, though the tight NL East and the shaky status of their bullpen might force a move the team would otherwise avoid.

    The Braves are also watching Rafael Furcal closely. His sore right shoulder is beginning to affect his throws and has certainly been a detriment at the plate. Furcal is stealing more, hoping to be valuable when he does manage to get on base, though Bobby Cox is wondering if some time on the DL might help Furcal or just bore him, always a concern.

  • It's almost comical that TTO slugger Russell Branyan could be injured on a bunt attempt. Branyan's X-ray showed a broken middle finger on his right hand, pushing him to the DL in the next day or so and perhaps opening a door for Rickie Weeks to come up for at least a short time. Kevin Orie, hitting .310/.429/.611 at Nashville, is another option. Branyan shouldn't miss more than the minimum with the fracture.

  • Quick Cuts: The Marlins' scoreboard read "104." A.J. Burnett smiled when he saw it. I guess he's still throwing the ball real hard, though scouts say 98 is more realistic … Look out Carl Pohlad. George Soros, the billionaire currency trader, has joined one of the groups bidding for the Nationals. That could make first pitches interesting … How hard do players work in rehab? A picture is worth a thousand wordsLuis Matos is aiming for a mid-month return. He'll likely have a short rehab stint to get some swings in after breaking his finger… Seriously, if there was a Peet's and a Jamba Juice in Indianapolis, like there is at Sheffield and North in Chicago, life would be so good for me … The Mariners think Rafael Soriano will begin throwing competitively soon, ten months post-Tommy John. Seeing him in Seattle this September is very realistic from a health perspective. That will depend more on his pitching.

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