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July 26, 2005

Under The Knife

Coming and Going

by Will Carroll

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Sleep? No, we don't do that around here. We brew up some more Peet's, drink another Monster and stay at work. It's going to be like this through the trade deadline and while it's hard work, I can't say it feels like hard work. Injuries and trade rumors go hand in hand, because when a team loses something to injury, they often have to go make a deal to fill in the gap. As we build more tools that assess and predict injury, teams may be able to make more intelligent assessments about the loss of value and production. Until then, I'm day-to-day with carpal tunnel and cauliflower ear.

Powered by my new AirPort Extreme, on to the injuries:

  • The Cubs placed Kerry Wood on the DL yesterday not because his arm was any worse, but because Dusty Baker does not like playing a man down. The roster move really doesn't change things in terms of a return since Wood was likely to miss two starts based on his throwing this weekend. He'll continue to work with Larry Rothschild on the side. There's a lot of discussion about Wood heading to the bullpen when he returns. Much like Curt Schilling, this would be more intended to get him some work in game situations, extracting some value from him. Unlike the Red Sox, the Cubs are much more settled in the pen, so don't expect Wood as closer or even setup man. The Cubs are trying to minimize the strain on Wood's shoulder in advance of off-season surgery. Assuming things are as several doctors have posited, Wood should be back for spring training in some role.

  • Larry Walker heads back to the DL and back to the needle in the neck. Two previous cortisone injections haven't cleared up the severe pain Walker is having due to a herniated cervical disk. Three injections is the normal limit; if three haven't worked, a fourth or fifth seldom will. That means that Walker may be facing surgery to relieve the problem, a situation that would almost by definition be career-ending. Expect Walker to hold off on the surgery and simply rest and have treatment in hopes that he could return at some point or merely help the Cardinals in the playoffs. If no one's noticed, half of the Cardinals starting eight (Walker, Scott Rolen, Reggie Sanders, and Yadier Molina) is on the DL right now, yet they're not losing any ground in the NL Central.

  • The Mets are increasingly pessimistic about the return of Kaz Matsui this season. Knee problems still have the 2B hobbled, keeping him from doing more than light jogging at this stage. The best case scenario is now becoming a return to the bench sometime in September, forcing the Mets to stay with Miguel Cairo at second. The Mets will likely move Matsui in the off-season, with some rumors saying that Matsui is contemplating a return to Japan.

  • The Orioles got a bat yesterday. It wasn't Phil Nevin, it was Javy Lopez, returning from the DL. Lopez struggled some with his throwing, described by ESPN analyst Rick Sutcliffe as "change ups to the base." Lopez also appeared to be having some swelling and pain along the injured hand. Several times, ESPN would cut to a close shot of his scar and the swelling was visible. He could also be seen flexing and extending his hand. With an 0fer on the night, Lopez's return might not have brought what the O's expected just yet.

  • Roy Halladay just got off crutches a few days ago, yet he's already breaking off pitches in the bullpen. Like Mark Prior before him, the recovery for Halladay may be so fast that a rehab assignment would be unnecessary. He'll have another bullpen session mid-week, then a sim game will be scheduled to align him with a return the first week of August. Assuming there are no setbacks, this has been a best case scenario and another credit to a Blue Jays medical staff that could be taking home a trophy this winter.

  • The Nationals are having a lot of problems. Winning, many think, creates what others call chemistry. The Nats, mired in a slump, are more worried about the recently cut Wil Cordero and the fruit salad on the craft services table than they are about beating the Braves, according to Jim Bowden. No trades appear likely since MLB will not approve any more budget after stretching to get Preston Wilson. That means the loss of Jose Guillen, even for a few days, is tough to take. Guillen was hit on the right hand against Houston Sunday and will miss the Atlanta series. They were lucky that it was not broken, since X-rays showed what sources call "the deepest of deep bruises."

  • Troy Glaus isn't just dealing with the chronic knee problem. Now, back spasms have forced him out of the lineup. It's possible that the two are interrelated but since Glaus has had minor back problems previously, it's impossible to tell. The D-Backs are relying on Paul Lessard and his staff to keep an increasingly creaky lineup out on the field and productive.

  • I don't mind getting scooped by one of my heroes. Peter Gammons broke the news that Adam Eaton won't be able to throw breaking balls due to his hand/finger problem and will be relegated to the bullpen. Eaton had some effect from a second cortisone shot that quickly wore off. I'm a bit confused as to why Eaton couldn't try starting without his breaking stuff, but I won't second guess Towers and Bochy on something they obviously have a lot more information and feel on. This helps us understand why Sidney Ponson was a need for the Pads.

  • Quick Cuts: Ben Sheets answered questions after yesterday's game wearing a New Orleans Saints helmet. I'm not sure if that's an injury thing or not Todd Helton will miss a few games with a strained left calf The Pirates may have a lot of upper level prospects right now, but John Van Benschoten is looking increasingly like any number of TINSTAAP victims. He had a scope this week, his third shoulder surgery in a year. Can he still hit? The Yanks aren't expecting Kevin Brown to make his scheduled Thursday start. Plan B is Tanyon Sturtze. Jaret Wright will make his first rehab start this weekend Aaron Cook is likely to be called up now that Zach Day is headed down. Cook is recovering from surgery to correct a blood clot in his shoulder The Mets look angry at the Devil Rays about last year's Victor Zambrano deal. They should look at their own doctors first Barry Bonds turned 41 over the weekend.

Thanks to everyone who emailed with comments on the new "Will's Mill" feature. A special thanks to those that sent in tips. You know how to reach me.

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