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July 6, 2005

Under The Knife

No Rest For The Weary

by Will Carroll

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I've heard the tales of cell phones exploding. I'd always thought they were urban myths until about 6.20 tonight. Then my Sidekick rang enough to make me sick of my ring tone and vibrated enough to excite Aurora Snow. Three quick, significant injuries took a quiet night and turned it into the type of good news/bad news scenario for an injury writer. My Sidekick wants a day off, but there's no time with the trade deadline coming up, so let's get right to it.

Powered by unlimited nights and weekends, on to the injuries:

  • It was a Cubs fan's worst nightmare as the first reports began to trickle in. Derrek Lee was injured, leaving the game early. The initial reports of a knee injury scared me, but the reports quickly--gotta love ESPNews--moved to the left shoulder. Lee has had some soreness there for at least a week, apparent in his reactions during and after some recent at-bats. Early word from the clubhouse is that the injury is believed to be bursitis or, at worst, a small muscle tear. This recalls Gary Sheffield and his injury last season. With the All-Star Game coming up, the Cubs will likely rest Lee a couple games and use the break to give their big slugger as much time off as possible without using the DL. If rest and normal treatment isn't enough, Lee could have a series of cortisone injections.

  • The report on Jon Lieber sounded worse than Lee's did. In fact, initial reports made my former Jaguar pal sound like he'd taken a Mark Prior-like hit. The impact wasn't nearly as severe, though every bit as serious, since the ball hit more on the point of his elbow. Initial x-rays showed no break, so the Phillies will allow the normal response of Lieber's arm to guide the process. He'll be well acquainted with ice and a cryo-cuff for the next 48 hours, though no guidance can be given yet on how much time he will miss due to the incident. I'm still at a loss as to why some enterprising young inventor hasn't come up with some device to protect pitchers without significantly changing the game. I'm worried that it will take something as extreme as a high-level death to force change, as happened with Steve Bechler.

  • Some cascades aren't obvious. How does a blister relate to an oblique strain? Josh Beckett found out. Even the slightest alteration to a delivery, something like a loosened grip or a more distinct "thinking" in the mechanics can lead to a small but significant change that can lead to better results...or injury. Beckett got the negative side of that bargain, straining his oblique. The injury is one that often lingers and Beckett's track record shows that he normally returns at or slightly after the expected return date. Expect Beckett to be on the shelf for at least a month and likely closer to six weeks before being fully healed. That puts the Marlins in a tough spot, and may be the final blow to their playoff hopes that prompts them to trade A.J. Burnett.

  • Remember sitting by the phone, waiting for that special someone to call? That's what it's like for teams waiting on test results. GMs and managers are used to some level of control, something they lose once it heads out of the stadium and into hospitals. An MRI of J.D. Drew and his injured wrist came back as a positive for the Dodgers, if missing eight weeks can be a positive. Drew will not need surgery at this stage--though it does remain a possibility if the wrist does not heal properly or if cartilage was involved--and should be back for September. Power is affected most by this type of injury, as the Dodgers learned with Jayson Werth. Meanwhile the Dodgers finally put Cesar Izturis on the DL with his lingering hamstring problem. While he'll likely miss the ASG, Izturis will be back shortly after the break. His recent slump convinced the Dodgers that he needed the time to heal and now is as perfect a time to do it as any. The team did get some good news, with Odalis Perez's return.

  • There's a great deal of talk in the Boston media about Keith Foulke and his off-field activities. I try to draw a line between personal and professional issues, so while the rumors have been trickling in for the past couple weeks, I've ignored them as they've grown both more tawdry and more credible. It's a far cry from the days when all foibles of players were overlooked in the press, but there's not exactly a Page Six for baseball either. Why? Because if you write something a large athletic man doesn't like, you're going to have to eventually meet him in a clubhouse somewhere and many writers at least consider the consequences. In one of my first outings to a MLB clubhouse, John Rocker grabbed me and asked me about something I'd written. After my shock at being recognized wore off, my second thought was "This is John Rocker. He's volatile, apparently angry, and much larger than I expected." I explained myself, that he'd misunderstood, and he was very nice, actually introducing me to a couple Rangers as "the guy who writes about all the surgery." Back to Foulke--the Sox are saying that his knee may be part of the ongoing mechanical problems. I think it's safe to say that there are multiple factors and that Foulke is a long way from being back to his dominant 2004 state.

  • Curt Schilling is also a long way from his 2004 state. I wonder if, at some point in last year's playoff run, anyone actually posed the question as to whether the team might be trading Schilling's future for a World Series ring. If so, I wonder if anyone was impolitic enough to answer. Schilling certainly has a future, but at his age, it's not likely to be terribly long. He's done enough and has enough money. What he's pitching for now is pride and competition, something apparent when he's on the mound. It might have been a better career move to walk off into the sunset when the Red Sox won the Series. That's not Curt Schilling. He'll be back and won't settle for being mediocre. While it's easy to watch his ankle for signs of shakiness, it's the look in his eyes that likely has more to do with how much he can give the Red Sox this season.

  • Quick Cuts: While UTK is hardly of similar importance, let me make this pledge: I'll go to jail first Jose Vidro looked normal in his first game back for the Nats. That's as good a sign as anyone can have ... Ryan Freel was able to take his degenerate toe on a full speed run around the bases. He should be back after a short rehab stint.

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