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June 14, 2005

Under The Knife

Gall

by Will Carroll

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Barry Bonds is still on the shelf, Marion Jones is running slowly and Victor Conte has a new product on the market. It's somehow galling to see Conte promoting both his past as a bass player and a highly technical performance enhancer all in one, especially while he's under indictment and according to government documents has admitted a series of offenses that are more outrageous than they are illegal. Experts think that Conte, if convicted, faces little more than Martha Stewart penalties. Conte, with a BALCO logo visible behind him, is making a mockery of the process.

  • Kerry Wood got back on the mound and his biggest competition was himself and nature. Wood's rehab stint was limited to just three innings and 46 pitches due to rain. In his time on the mound, Wood was able to strike out three; he also walked two men and allowed two hits. Wood was not happy with the outing, saying the "ball didn't come out of his hand well." This means that he's still struggling to get the same results he always had with mechanical changes he's made. For those of you that have read Saving The Pitcher, you'll remember "Law's Rule"--there's only so much you can change a pitcher without affecting his results. Wood will be testing the rule as he learns to be a pitcher again. Assuming he has no problems in recovery, he'll make at least one more start for Triple-A Iowa before returning to the Cubs against the Brewers in one of two upcoming series. (I've always wondered how much teams try to spot a returning starter against a weak hitting team.)

  • The Phillies didn't wait to see the MRI before dropping Randy Wolf on the DL. For the second year in a row, Wolf's elbow puts him on the shelf; talk from Philly is decidedly negative about his prospects. Tommy John gets mentioned a lot, and Wolf himself is tipping his hand that surgery seems to be the direction he's headed.

  • Sometimes you just have to look. Paul Wilson will go under the knife so Dr. Tim Kremchek can take a look inside his shoulder to see what the process is. Kremchek feels that he needs to "get aggressive" with the shoulder, since the conservative rehab Wilson had been doing had produced no results. Many are speculating that Wilson has a torn labrum, but until the scope slides inside, there's really no use guessing. Wilson is likely out for the season with an outside chance of a late August or September return.

  • Injuries that affect throwing but not hitting, or vice versa, are always intriguing to me. How can something be so significant in one mechanism and barely a concern in others? It's just another miracle of the human body, designed to accept some damage and remain functional. Travis Hafner is the latest example of this. His elbow injury, likely to be corrected by surgery after the season, will keep him from playing first base the rest of the season. While this reduces some of the flexibility the Indians have in filling out a lineup card, and becomes more of an issue for interleague play, it's easy to forget that Hafner played just 11 games there last season.

  • Hideki Matsui isn't that close to Cal Ripken Jr. and he may not get any closer. Matsui will be a game-time decision tonight after spraining his ankle in Sunday's game. No one seems quite sure how Matsui will deal with the treatments and the Japanese media is full of speculation in all its partially-translated goodness. I'd expect Matsui to play, though he will be noticeably hobbled, leading some to think he'll shift back to left and allow Tony Womack or even Bernie Williams to move into center temporarily. In the longer term, this doesn't appear to be much of a problem.

  • Adrian Beltre is headed back to Seattle to have his hamstring examined by team doctors. Beltre injured his left hammy running out a double in D.C., and it seems to be an extension of the injury he suffered mid-month. There are reports that Beltre has torn the hamstring, though these are unreliable. Since initially injuring the hamstring, Beltre has only missed one game, raising his disappointing batting average by 13 points and his slugging by 22. We'll keep a close eye on this one.

  • Damian Miller won't miss much more time with his groin strain, forcing the Brewers to designate his caddy, Julio Mosquera, to get Prince Fielder up to DH. Miller was concerned that he'd be pushed to the DL to make room for the slugger, but according to multiple team sources, his importance to the pitching staff can't be underestimated. Miller will split catching duties more evenly with Chad Moeller over the next couple weeks while he heals.

  • Some reports, including those from our intrepid Prospectus Notebook reporters, had Marquis Grissom becoming the latest DFA. Instead the Giants tucked him on the DL. It's not his knee this time, but the chronic hamstring problem that the Giants used to hide him for a while. The Giants are in the middle of something of a renovation of their roster, so watch for TAs in the near future that discuss these.

  • Quick Cuts: Jim Edmonds was pulled from the lineup at the last minute with "rib contusions." I'm at a loss to say when this happened. Edmonds isn't expected to miss significant playing time Johnny Estrada got back into the game after a week's recovery from the violent home-plate collision with Darin Erstad. He showed no effects Alex Sanchez was designated for assignment on Tuesday. I'm sure it's just coincidence that it comes exactly 60 days after he returned from his drug suspension The planned new Mets stadium is Turner Field in reverse? Fine; anything has to be better than Shea A number of Royals pitchers--Denny Bautista, Kyle Snyder, Brian Anderson--will be in Omaha soon for rehab. Unfortunately, they're all about Omaha quality.

You can call into the Will Carroll Baseball Hour today at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. The number is 800 TALK 2 90 or listen in on the Web at ESPN950.com.

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