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June 13, 2005

Under The Knife

Playoff Season

by Will Carroll

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It's College World Series time as well as playoff season for many high-school associations. As much as I love watching these, it also sets off a spate of insane pitch counts. Reader Scott Nottingham--a pediatrician--sent in a recap of the Virginia state finals, during which Dan Hudson, a senior, went 164 pitches to win the title. Cardinals draft pick Mark McCormick went 137 pitches for Baylor in a blowout win! I guess it keeps all the athletic trainers in business; there are 10,000 of them here in Indianapolis for their Annual Meetings. I'll be wandering the hallways over there, learning more and talking to trainers who are also UTK readers. It's great to meet readers of any stripe, but these people are on the front lines of the battle to save arms and make our game better.

Powered by the thought of Live 8 and a Pink Floyd reunion, on to the injuries:

  • The Cubs never wanted to see all three of their top pitchers in one UTK. At least today's news is positive for all of them. Kerry Wood will begin a planned three-start rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa on Monday night. He'll step up the pitch count in each start, returning to Wrigley at the end of the month. Mark Prior was able to throw in the bullpen prior to Sunday's game; according to observers he looked "cautious but good." He apparently was working at about 70% effort and still has some pain while throwing. Carlos Zambrano didn't break his toe with an awkward slide, though there is some concern that he may have turf toe. The medical staff will watch the toe closely in the days leading up to his next start, though they believe he will make that start.

  • The news is also positive for the A's young starter Rich Harden. After throwing well from the mound this weekend, Harden will throw a simulated game on Tuesday, then head out to the minors for one start. That puts him on track to be back with the team around June 24 or so, assuming no setbacks. Oblique injuries tend to heal cleanly if slowly.

    Bobby Crosby, on the other hand, is dealing with a new condition. After coming off the DL when his broken rib healed, he's now hobbled by a mid-grade quad pull. He'll play this week, though expect a day off here and there while this injury heals.

  • As quickly as Barry Bonds made some good news by running and doing some agility drills, his doctor shut things down. Bonds' infectious-disease doctor didn't feel that he should be doing such strenuous activity so close to the end of his antibiotic run. That all but ends the dim hope that Bonds could be activated to be DH during next week's interleague games and now puts him back on track for an All-Star Game timeframe. Bonds will continue to work on cardio, hit off a tee, and wait for his personal trainer to plead out.

  • The lost season of Adrian Beltre continues. The M's third baeman re-injured his left hamstring on Sunday and will be re-evaluated on Tuesday. Trainer Rick Griffin told Mariners.com that he expected Beltre to be out around four days, though sources in Seattle tell me that the DL is a possibility. Some think that the DL stint would be an opportunity for Beltre to regroup, work on his hitting and step out of the spotlight he put himself in with his free-agent signing.

  • Theo Epstein held court in Wrigley Field on Sunday, and one of the many things he was questioned about was the status of Curt Schilling. The subject of the upcoming Mind Game told reporters that he expects Schilling to be back in Boston for some more strength tests on his famous ankle, followed by a decision about when and where he'll make his first rehab start. Sources tell us that the decision will likely be made based on the schedules of the various minor-league teams. The Sox would like to make sure Schilling gets a start at home of whatever team gets him so that they can control the quality of the mound.

  • The Nationals have done all right without Jose Vidro. Still, they want their second baseman back, knowing he could be key to what is sure to be a close race. Vidro saw a foot specialist this week and indicated that he could be back by the end of June. Sources with the team think that's a bit optimistic and don't want Vidro rushing back. If Vidro does stick to the initial target of the All-Star break, no one in D.C. will be complaining. Ten-game winning streaks have a way of inducing patience.

  • I'm convinced that the tight NL East will be decided more by injuries than talent. Things are just too close and in those situations, the ability to keep your players on the field becomes even more valuable. The Phillies understand this, which makes them very concerned about Randy Wolf, who will miss some time with progressive elbow soreness. Wolf has been pitching well, though that pitching was apparently done with pain. Wolf will miss at least one start and how he responds to treatment will determine if he'll be back on the DL. The Phillies don't have Gavin Floyd or Cole Hamels in position to fill in as they expected they would.

  • Scott Rolen was expected to be somewhere in the minors right now, prepping for a couple rehab games to tune up his swing and test his surgically repaired shoulders. Instead, he's stuck in St. Louis, trying to get his strength up to the levels he needs to safely make that rehab stint. Much of the problem has been getting range of motion, leading some to compare Rolen's injury to the start of Jeff Bagwell's shoulder problems. This is hardly on the level of that yet.

  • Milton Bradley must have a really good body clock. Apparently, as the clock struck six on Friday, his finger suddenly stopped hurting and he could swing a bat. I don't have anything resembling an explanation for the miracle cure. The Dodgers don't really care; they're just happy that Bradley is improving and will bring him off the DL later this week. He won't go out on a rehab stint, meaning he could be back as soon as Thursday.

  • Someone this weekend said that Jeff Cirillo must just really like Milwaukee. It's as good an explanation as any I've heard for his resurgence. Cirillo will miss most of the week after spraining his wrist during a head first slide. The Brewers will be forced to shuffle their infield a bit, harder now that Junior Spivey is gone. They're committed to Rickie Weeks and hope that he'll entrench himself at second base for the better part of the decade.

  • As amazing as Carlos Silva has been this season, it's easy to forget that a knee injury nearly ended his year before it started. The torn meniscus reminded everyone it was still there after Silva was bothered by the knee on Saturday. Silva aggravated the knee while batting but does not expect to miss a start. Injuries like this remind us of how ridiculous the DH rule is. Watch Silva in his next start to see if the injury affects his mechanics or his pinpoint control (one walk every 20 innings.)

  • Quick Cuts: The Devil Rays rotation is in crisis again after Mark Hendrickson left the game with a leg injury. Expect some further shuffling of the deck chairs on baseball's Titanic Edgardo Alfonzo for Kazuo Matsui? I keep hearing it, though an injured quad may delay things if Alfonzo is forced to the DL Jesse Foppert has been promoted and will start on Tuesday. He's another data point in the survivability of Tommy John surgery. I just wish we didn't have so many Brandon Lyon was pushed to the 60-day DL while Greg Aquino came back ineffectively Joaquin Benoit can't stay healthy. He's headed to the DL with elbow soreness after missing the start of the season with shoulder problems. He'd been quite effective in the Rangers pen Kevin Millwood returns to the mound later this week.

Back tomorrow. If you're at the NATA Meetings, be sure to drop me a line or just look for my colorful press pass.

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