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August 3, 2005

Under The Knife

Looking for Leadership

by Will Carroll

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Ryan Franklin isn't the name that Rafael Palmeiro is, but his suspension may be even more informative. Franklin let everyone know that his positive test, one of two, was taken back in May. This changes the timeline we had all thought was in place for suspensions under the new Joint Testing Program. That a player, be it a bad pitcher like Franklin or a player breaking a milestone like Palmeiro, is allowed to play for months while under a cloud of suspicion is troubling.

I understand that Don Fehr and Bud Selig are hamstrung by confidentiality rules in commenting specifically about any steroid violation. It doesn't stop me from wanting to see the leadership of baseball doing something that looks like, well, leadership. Congress stands to take control of this issue whether or not baseball does something and honestly, I don't know what baseball can do. I just hate seeing Selig throw up his hands once again, just as he did at the All-Star Game in 2002. This time, the stakes are much higher--the very soul of the game, as Howard Bryant has written. Don Fehr is just as culpable and capable of helping. Bud, Don...this time it counts.

Powered by the chance to be on "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" alongside two men I really respect--Alan Schwarz and Rick Collins--on to the injuries ...

  • DRPU: The New York Times reported that Palmeiro tested positive for Winstrol. This is the same steroid that Jose Canseco said he used on Palmeiro in his book. There are few products that could cause a cross-indication of Winstrol in the system, putting more of a burden on Palmeiro's defense that he doesn't know how it got into his system. Sources tell me that further developments in the case should come public in the next 48 hours. For those of you that have jokingly asked me about the use of Viagra by bodybuilders, don't laugh. Viagra is a nitric oxide enhancer and some advanced researchers in the anabolics field have discussed the use of Viagra in muscle recovery.

  • The injury was played over and over on TBS Tuesday, and with each replay I saw, there was something different to see. It was a great job by the production crew on the Braves telecast to show so many angles on a play that could put such a damper on the team's hopes. Chipper Jones dove to his left for a grounder and jammed his shoulder hard into the ground. My immediate thought--and that of another medhead in attendance at the game--was that Jones had separated his shoulder. Reports from the Braves have called this a posterior rotator cuff strain, but watch for further imaging to check for internal damage, including an AC separation, labrum and capsular injuries. The Braves have been very conservative with the DL, allowing their players every opportunity to return without hitting the list. Jones' pain and range of motion will determine his return date, but this could be a situation very similar to Scott Rolen's.

  • ESPN is reporting that Torii Hunter has torn tendons as well as a fracture. The Twins are officially denying this. While I can't definitively clear this up, I think I can clarify it a bit. When Hunter's cleats caught in the padding at Fenway, his foot clearly everted, testing the strong tendons on the inside of the ankle/foot. Given that mechanism, it's likely that he has at least a mild sprain, which by definition is tearing of ligaments. The report may have confused the mild tearing of ligaments in the sprain with early reports of a torn tendon. Team officials, including Dr. John Steubs, dispute the report. Steubs, it should be noted, stated that the foot inverted, rather than everted, contradicting the video. Either way, Hunter is done for the season.

  • The Marlins continue to play without Carlos Delgado. Their first baseman has been out for around a week with a sore elbow. X-rays have been negative, and while the swelling has been brought under control, Delgado is not yet able to swing a bat without discomfort. The team does not think that Delgado will go on the DL, though a move would need to be made soon if it is to be a retroactive one.

  • Travis Hafner is still not fully recovered from his concussion. Two tries at a minor-league game at Double-A Akron have shown that Hafner is still having problems, leaving after just one at-bat on Monday due to dizziness. The second try was better when it came to symptoms, but the oh-fer showed the Indians that Hafner might need a bit more time before returning to the big leagues. Concussions and the recovery from them are extremely unpredictable, so--since I said initially that I didn't expect Hafner to miss much time--I won't try to guess when Hafner will be back now. He'll be back as soon as he's able.

  • The Astros are making a run and might get something of a lift if they can get Jeff Bagwell back. Just days after saying he thought his chances of ever coming back were 50-50, it's starting to look like Bagwell could rejoin the team in September. The catch is that Bagwell is likely to be unable to throw, keeping him limited to a pinch-hitting role or, if Phil Garner gets creative, something like the end-stage Mark McGwire that Tony La Russa was able to conjure up. If the Astros make the playoffs, it's unlikely that they would use a roster spot on the limited Bagwell. The Astros are also watching Roy Oswalt and trying to find extra rest for him. Oswalt is going through some dead-arm and will need some recovery time in order to maintain his effectiveness down the stretch.

  • Scott Podsednik has taken a couple days off to "keep his legs fresh." That, to many of you, sounds like he has some sort of injury. A quick check with my Sox source tells me that Podsednik and the team are taking advantage of their big divisional lead to get their regulars some extra rest. Podsednik does have some soreness and fatigue, but nothing beyond what you'd expect from a player who's two-thirds of the way into the season. Expect Podsednik--and the rest of the Sox--to slow down on the basepaths through much of August.

  • The Cardinals continue to coast through August with a lot of injured players. According to La Russa, the one he thinks they need most is Yadier Molina. The young catcher is working out behind the plate, testing his broken hand. He's still around two weeks away, but all signs during his rehab have been positive. Expect Molina to head to the minors for a short stint sometime next week.

  • If this were any team but the Mariners, we'd probably shrug. Given their history and the impending debut of Felix Hernandez, though, a quick injury to another pitcher has to be taken differently. Jorge Campillo--called by some a "Mexican Maddux" due to his underpowered fastball and good control--didn't make it to the second inning. Campillo left the game with a strained right elbow and will be scheduled for an MRI. He had missed some time in July with a forearm strain that may have been a precursor to this. If I was Hernandez, I'd want some sort of long-term deal now; the M's record with pitchers is just uncanny.

  • Quick Cuts: Jaret Wright will make another rehab start on Thursday. This sets his return date around August 25 Keith Foulke continues to make progress. He may see a mound sometime this week, meaning his return could happen as soon as late August Roy Halladay may not start this weekend. The team has some concerns about his fielding Tigers ace prospect Justin Verlander left a Double-A start with "shoulder tightness." Verlander is a key part of the Tigers' future, so this has to be worrisome.

I'd like to thank everyone that's taken a look at UTK, Will's Mill, and my other work during the free preview. I hope you liked it enough to make it part of your daily baseball routine. Thanks to the 70+ radio and TV outlets that contacted me over the last couple days. It's important to take this opportunity to get the message out about baseball's real drug problems and that there are possible solutions. Finally, I'd like to thank the Academy and my mom. Back tomorrow.

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