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June 9, 2005

Under The Knife

A Pixies Buzz

by Will Carroll

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I'm still on a Pixies buzz, so I'll keep things quick and to the point. On to the injuries:

  • A simulated game is something like simulated wood or real faux pleather. It will do, if that's what's there, but it's not like having the real thing. Kerry Wood will take the results of his simulated game on Wednesday and like them just fine. Throwing to Jose Macias and Enrique Wilson is almost its own punchline, but Wood looked good according to those who saw his three-inning session. Wood will throw at least one more time--likely another simulated game--before being activated.

    Sergio Mitre may have given the Cubs a bit more breathing room with his great performance on Wednesday. More encouraging was this TWIQ-worthy quote from Dusty Baker via Cubs.com: "What I've noticed is that he's leading the league in complete games and averaging under 100 pitches during his games," Baker said of Roy Halladay. "Maybe we can pay attention, especially some of the younger guys, on how to minimize your pitches."

  • The A's need Rich Harden back. Badly. Harden could be back as soon as June 21 against Seattle, based on current thinking. Harden had a good session from the front of the mound and should throw from the rubber by early next week. He did not report any problems with his oblique during or after the session, a definite positive. It doesn't sound as though Harden will be making a trip to the minors.

  • Was the series of injuries to Carlos Guillen a factor in the trade for Placido Polanco? It certainly makes some sense, though there's no official acknowledgement. Polanco not only solidifies a middle infield that has had some defensive questions--ones exacerbated by Guillen's reduced mobility and a series of nagging injuries--he pushes the team towards that magical .500 mark. Guillen, for his part, should return over the weekend after his hamstring injury was discovered to be a mild strain that appeared worse due to some spasm.

  • The Tigers are beginning to think that Magglio Ordonez will get back in their lineup sometime in July. Ordonez took some fly balls before Wednesday's game, then took batting practice. Reports say that Ordonez looked good, putting some pitches into the Dodger Stadium bleachers. While the All-Star break might be a bit soon, the rapid progress that Ordonez has seen over the past two weeks gives him an outside chance at it.

  • The Cardinals know that Scott Rolen is close. He'll likely head out on a short rehab assignment next week, assuming that he gets a little more range of motion in his shoulder. Rolen has been somewhat limited during batting practice, having to shorten up his swing. The Cards will be very conservative with him; sources have indicated that they are willing to let this go to the All-Star break if need be.

  • Chipper Jones still hasn't met with the foot specialist--that comes Friday--though the Braves are clearer on where they stand. (Get it? Stand foot never mind.) Jones will be out for a month if he manages to avoid surgery, two months if he has it. Expect the surgery, because trying to rehab it might put him in the same place after the month has gone by. Jones is many things, but sources reminded me today that patient is not among them.

  • There's a good bit of concern regarding the revelation that Brad Wilkerson has been fighting a nerve problem in his forearm for the past few weeks. Certainly it won't help, especially when it comes to power, yet there's also no reason to think that Wilkerson will need to take time off. Moreover, Wilkerson appears to be adjusting to the situation well, learning what he can and can't do.

  • The Mariners are hoping their phenom will be up around the All-Star break to solidify their rotation and help them build for the future. No, not that one. This is Rafael Soriano, out since last autumn after having Tommy John surgery. Soriano is currently in Arizona working at extended spring training and throwing with pretty good velocity, if not the high-90s heat he had pre-surgery. While Soriano's recovery is being touted as fast, he's actually just barely ahead of schedule given the advances of the past few years. An August return is more likely, but if you keep in mind the struggles of TJ rehabbers early in their return, he might be worth stashing on your reserve roster.

  • Johnny Estrada certainly can't be faulted for taking a couple days to clear his head--literally--and make sure his noggin is attached correctly. Estrada has both a mild concussion and whiplash after Darin Erstad did his best to go directly through Estrada in a play at the plate. While Estrada is expected back this weekend, the injury--and even the potential injury to Erstad--is unnecessary. The collision play is endlessly debated and a "must-slide" rule, accompanied by an enforcement of the plate-blocking rules, seems a common sense move by baseball's rulemakers.

  • Nabokov once wrote that "the cradle rocks above the abyss." As exciting as the 2005 draft has been, it's now time to remember that a majority of these players will never make it and many of the pitchers will have their careers halted or ended by injury. Some teams know this and avoid certain types of pitchers, watching for smooth mechanics and a history that doesn't include insane usage patterns. Others simply roll the dice and hope that high-school fireballer doesn't blow up. Craig Italiano, a Dallas-area prep star, will be an interesting test for Oakland's vaunted prehab program. With Kyle Sleeth, the Tigers' top pick in 2003, heading under the knife for Tommy John surgery, I'll wish all of these new pitchers the best of luck and a reminder to have a secondary skill.

  • Quick Cuts: This is just plain cool. And they say that people wouldn't follow the draft? Stories like this, plus highlights and Jonathan Mayo, would make it just the same as the early days of the NFL's televised draft Aaron Cook is important to the Rockies. Not only was he one of few solid prospects they had before his scary ailment forced surgery, his return would help free up a couple trades. Cook is still at least a month off, if not more Ross Gload reinjured his shoulder during his rehab assignment. The White Sox are doing okay without him Brandon Lyon is out until at least the ASB, maybe longer. His elbow still lacks both normal range and strength Expect Kevin Brown to miss at least his next start with a problem in his non-throwing shoulder Dontrelle Willis got his 10th win, though anyone who was watching the game saw him visibily tire in the sixth. There's a worry his workload will catch up with him from a fatigue standpoint.

Back tomorrow.

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