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July 18, 2005

Under The Knife

The Right to Remain Silent

by Will Carroll

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Harvey Araton at The New York Times is wrong when he says "It will be too bad if Giambi never realizes his potential to be baseball's premier player spokesman against the scourge that has tarnished an era and spread like an infectious disease all the way down to the scholastic level. Mark McGwire has apparently decided to pass. Fat chance Barry Bonds will ever step up."

I haven't seen the PSAs on recreational drugs from Dwight Gooden or Darryl Strawberry. I haven't seen any baseball players raising awareness about domestic violence despite far too many complaints across the game. I haven't seen many players step up on these issues at all, outside of the normal fundraising and personal foundations. As much good as those do--and it's often quite a bit--they don't force the players to put themselves on the line. Just as Tiger Woods has the right not to take a position on club exclusivity in golf, players have, to borrow a phrase, the right to remain silent.

I just wish they wouldn't.

Powered by being on page 205 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, on to the injuries ...

  • The Gotham press is in full freak-out mode, trying to discover "what's wrong with Pedro Martinez." The idea that Martinez would need extra rest can't possibly come as news to anyone who has watched baseball over the past couple seasons. Martinez has known shoulder issues that tend to make themselves heard around mid-season, and usually require some extended rest and the occasional DL stint. The creative utilization so far has allowed the Mets to maximize the availability of Martinez while minimizing the stress on that shoulder. His velocity has been sharply down, though it's as important to notice that he's lost almost no effectiveness despite that. I'm curious to see how the Mets deal with the situation. In the past, Martinez relied on Chris Correnti of the Red Sox, something not possible now. We'll see how the Mets new medical team steps up. The Mets might move to something like a six-man rotation once Steve Trachsel comes back in a few weeks.

  • I've heard Travis Hafner being compared to a number of late-developing sluggers over the past couple weeks and I've yet to hear one comp that I liked. For a moment, he looked a bit like Dickie Thon on Sunday, an unfortunate comparison if there ever was one. Hafner was much luckier, coming away from the beaning with only a cut inside his mouth and some pain. While there is no such thing as a "mild concussion" anymore--they're all serious and cumulo-consecutive--Hafner doesn't stand to miss much time as a result.

  • As Mark Loretta gets ready to come back to Petco Park mid-week, the Padres are trying to figure out just where they'll line him up when he returns. Currently in Portland, Loretta seems to be recovered from his thumb situation and on track for the July 19 target set a few weeks back. There's some rumblings that Loretta might push over to third base in place of Sean Burroughs and in lieu of someone like Joe Randa. An 0-for-4 start at Triple-A doesn't really tell us much about how he'll hit when he returns, but the normal pattern is for a slight loss of bat control and power, so give him a couple weeks before you make any definitive judgements. That's just about the same amount of time Kevin Towers gets.

  • As the Braves get healthier, teams in the NL East just have to be shaking their heads and wondering how this team not only survived a rash of key injuries, but actually got stronger in the process. While there's been rumblings of some trades that could improve outfield depth or solidify the bullpen, the Braves just motor along, filling gaps with uberprospects like Jeff Francoeur and Andy Marte as well as found parts like Pete Orr and Chris Reitsma. When Chipper Jones comes back Monday--a couple days later than he could have--the team will essentially be intact, just like Jones' foot. He had no trouble except when running.

  • Is it worse to never get the girl or to go out with her and then realize she isn't really your type? That's nearly what Craig Wilson is going through. After spending the better part of two months recovering from surgery and rehabbing, Wilson made it back to the lineup just in time to be plunked in the hand by one of the great control pitchers in history. Figure the odds. Wilson will be out for at least six weeks, likely longer, with the fracture. As was noted in Baseball Prospectus 2005, Wilson does have a history of being hit by pitches, with more than 30 last season. I spoke with Wilson while he was here in Indy and he's hoping to be a catcher again, something his next team should consider. While he has one of the strangest collections of PECOTA comps around, I keep thinking that he could become some sort of Mickey Tettleton/Gregg Zaun hybrid if things break right. In the meantime, the Bucs will get a chance to look at Chris Duffy, a speedy center fielder who's better than Tike Redman right now.

  • Who needs beat writers when Johnny Damon tells us everything we need to know? While the Red Sox front office was saying that a deal with Craig Hansen, their first-round pick and a possible bullpen savior, wasn't imminent, Damon was happy to tell anyone within cellular range that Hansen was at Fenway to have his pre-signing physical. I'll leave it to the John Sickels and Bryan Smiths of the world to tell me whether Hansen can step right into the bullpen and stick to telling you that Hansen reportedly has no physical concerns.

    The same can't be said for Bill Mueller. A back strain has Kevin Youkilis keeping his bags packed in Pawtucket.

  • "He can't hurt it any more." That's hardly comforting news for anyone and less so for a guy to whom Diamondbacks have committed for the long term and rely on to compete. With what looks like a bright future coming, the D'backs will need to make some decisions about Troy Glaus. Repeated cortisone injections are quick, short-term fixes for a team that's seemingly built for 2007. Much like Luis Gonzalez last season, there should be a point in the season where Glaus says he's done all he can and heads off to get his knee fixed properly.

    The dangers of catching make you wonder if the Molina boys sit on their front porch back home during the off-season and compare scars. "I got this one when I took a foul tip off the temple," one would say. The others might show their mangled fingers or body-sized bruises. Yadier Molina hasn't been the hitter that the Cardinals expected, but they were used to Matheny-sized portions from the slot. What they'll get while Molina is on the DL with a fractured hand is another story. Either way, the Cards are simply coasting; it will take more than one or two injuries to derail them from their October plans.

  • As Kevin Brown gets ready to come back, the Yankees are happy with their new youngster, Al Leiter. The whippersnapper had a nice start in Fenway on Sunday and should function as a stopgap while Carl Pavano heals his dinged shoulder. The Yankees should know more about the fate of Chien-Ming Wang today. Reports of a rotator-cuff tear have been circulating widely. Jim Andrews will make the determination when he examines Wang on Monday. (Now there's a sentence you have to say out loud…)

  • The term "default diagnosis" is one that sounds much worse than it actually is. You'd like to be able to make a perfect diagnosis each time, but given the complexities of the body, the cost of advanced diagnostics, and the time constraints that sports medical staffs are under, sometimes going with the default is the right thing to do.

    Take the case of Erubiel Durazo. Placed on the DL with tendonitis in his elbow, the A's knew (but of course never said) that it could be more going on. Either way, the treatment was the same and the hope was that it was tendonitis and Durazo would be back. No such luck. Durazo is still in pain and no closer to getting back on the field than he was when he first went on the DL. Luckily, the A's deal from depth here, leaving the at-bats to Dan Johnson and Scott Hatteberg.

    Quick Cuts: Kyle Farnsworth looked like he's out of practice. His tackle of Jeremy Affeldt wasn't near the great form he showed a couple years ago putting the Urlacher on Paul Wilson … Looks like Mets prospect Philip Humber is headed for Tommy John. TNSTAAPP strikes again … Scott Williamson is close to a rehab assignment, meaning he could be in the Cubs pen by late August. That's an amazing recovery … Chris Young is one of my favorite young pitchers, but his arm looks dead. Could one of the "DVD Boys" give both Kenny Rogers and Young a couple weeks of rest? … Once Placido Polanco shows his hamstring is healthy, he'll likely become a target for trades again. The hammy isn't a chronic thing yet …

For those of you who haven't checked out Baseball Prospectus Radio, this week is the one not to miss. Brad Wochomurka's All-Star Game reporting is one of the best things we've done, getting players to think a little bit and giving us some insight. I'll also be back at Victory Field in Indianapolis today from 3-6 p.m. Central, broadcasting live for ESPN 950. Stop by and say hi.

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