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June 21, 2005

Under The Knife

Digging for Answers

by Will Carroll

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I'd intended to discuss some of the great e-mails I got in response to my question about overcoming injuries, but the responses were so great that it's going to take me more time to dig through and run the numbers. OK, that should say "beg some of our smart guys like Keith Woolner, James Click and Tom Gorman" to help me run the numbers and take a hard look at the answers. Believe me, these guys keep me from trotting out here with the half-baked answers that I thought were true during 20 years of playing baseball. So, patience, dear readers, and keep the e-mails coming.

Powered by a sample jar of Sativex, on to the injuries:

  • He'll be back when he's back, say the Giants, but here in the hardcore world of medheads--where we'd kill or maim for the information we need--that's not good enough. "He," of course, is Barry Bonds, whose ongoing slow rehab with its numerous setbacks have kept the pixel farmers working overtime. Bonds is with the team, yet still working on his own. The way things are moving, Bonds is likely to burst into baseball activities, avoid a rehab stint (he's "not worried about his swing," the first time I can remember Bonds being subtle), and will time his return as much in regard to off-field concerns as he does the on-field medical prognosis. I'm no closer to saying when he'll be back, but the All-Star break timeframe doesn't sound ridiculous.

  • I'm not starting up the Daily Mark Prior Updates if I can help it. Prior himself is doing his best to keep that feature from coming back to UTK. The Cubs believe that Prior's progress is such that he may need only one more simulated game before being activated, rather than a minor-league start or two on top of that. Prior hasn't been out nearly as long as Kerry Wood (who hit 95 according to reports from his last rehab start) has and his functional conditioning didn't take as much of a hit. It's anyone's guess how he'll respond; there's never been a case like this, but expect the Cubs to be conservative and careful. It's likely that Wood and Prior could both be back in the rotation at Wrigley next week.

  • The Padres have been a streaky team. Streaks often go hand-in-hand with injuries, and the recent dropoff has been caused by a run of better opponents and the nagging injuries of the season beginning to hit them. Adam Eaton may be back by this weekend after his scary ligament problem in his pitching hand, though he may not be throwing to his expert catcher, Ramon Hernandez. Hernandez is likely headed for the DL after tests showed no progress in his injured left wrist. Decisions on both players should come Tuesday.

  • The Royals placed both Mike Sweeney and Ambiorix Burgos on the DL in moves that surprised almost no one. The questions now are who replaces them and how long each will be out. Burgos is so young that even if he's able to return, he might be better served by spending some time in Omaha. He'd at least get to know the rest of the guys, since nearly the entire projected Royals staff is in Nebraska. Sweeney is a more interesting issue. His wrist doesn't appear to be serious and the time off allows his various other maladies a chance to heal up, all while giving Justin Huber a bit of a test drive. The time frames for the two returns may depend more on the direction of the franchise than what's happening in the training room.

  • The Rockies didn't ask Shawn Chacon if he'd like to make rehab starts before returning and certainly didn't ask how many starts he'd like to make. Every athlete will tell you they're ready, that they want the ball, that the pain isn't too bad.... It's the responsibility for looking out for the players' best interests when they won't that makes a manager and trainer so valuable. Chacon may be angry that he's headed to the minors, but it was never the Rockies job to ask him if he wanted to go.

    The Rox also have some decisions to make once Todd Greene comes off the DL. Will they trade him as they seemed ready to do just before his injury or will they use this chance to send J.D. Closser down to regroup?

  • For all the early word about how Josh Beckett may have the worst blister of his career, the recent reports are backing off of that and coming back to a middle ground. The blister is healing, as they always have, but Beckett's frustration seems to grow exponentially, leaving him saying that he's not willing to come back if he's going to have a recurrence that forces him back to the DL again in short order. This seems smart, assuming that Beckett can ever be blister-free. Safecrackers used to sand down their fingertips before a job, exposing the nerve endings and making them more sensitive for their work. That wouldn't work for Beckett, but there's probably something out there that will.

  • Jason LaRue should get some kind of reward. I guess the three million he's making this season should be enough. Still, LaRue may be setting some kind of record or channeling Jack Youngblood. LaRue missed a game due to a knee sprain, missed only a couple days after the death of his grandfather, is playing with a fracture in his left wrist, had 12 stitches in his hand in early May, and is still having trouble with a chronic knee problem. He's still hitting better than many other catchers and his defense has barely suffered. That's tough.

  • Quick Cuts: Rich Harden will be on a pitch-control program when he starts on Tuesday night In the 30 years since Tommy John surgery was first performed, doctors have resurrected the careers of countless numbers of pitchers. Imagine what's next Tim Salmon thinks he can return by the end of the season. I'm not sure where he fits. Jered Weaver made his first start in Cucamonga. Now him, I see where he would fit Cole Hamels is throwing in extended spring training. If he can stay healthy, he's a huge talent. OK, that's a huge if Kazuo Matusi's bruised left knee isn't responding as the medical staff expected. There's likely something more going on here Mike Cameron had his quad drained and could be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

Mark your calendars: this weekend, Jerry Crasnick, author of the must-read License To Deal is our guest on BP Radio. On July 9 in Dallas (location TBA), Jim Baker and I will hold the first Dallas Pizza Feed.

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