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August 23, 2005

Under The Knife

A Bad Day

by Will Carroll

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Some days you wake up and things just go wrong. I started my day standing in line at the post office, all bleary eyes and pre-coffee, waiting to mail off the penalty for a speeding ticket. (Can I write that off?) The coffee I got afterwards was bad--not sure why--and my wrist hurt. Then Joe Sheehan calls about my column. Turns out I'd accidentally turned in the first draft, the one where my writing looks more like a Courtney Love mash note with the occasional anatomical reference. Finally, I walked downstairs to make some phone calls...and stepped in dog poop.

Breathe in, breathe out. At least I'm alive and have the greatest job in the world. It's a short day in the majors so let's get on with the injuries...

  • The latest on Barry Bonds comes from Brian Sabean. Sabean had one of his assistants check his e-mail--it's rumored that Sabean doesn't have a computer--for the latest update on his star slugger.

    Things look good. Bonds is still in Los Angeles working with Clive Brewster, running, sprinting and cutting without significant problems. He's not swinging a bat or doing those important "baseball activities," but it's the best news heard all year on Bonds. The question now is will he have enough time to come back or will the Giants risk his 2006 availability by allowing him to come back this season? My gut feeling is that we'll see Bonds in something of a cameo appearance, just enough to whet the public's appetite for next season's chase of history.

  • Jose Castillo had his hopes--and left knee--spiked in Monday's game. A takeout slide resulted in an MCL sprain, with Castillo having to be helped off the field. The replays looked ugly, with Castillo on the wrong side of the bag as Hector Luna came in hard but clean. He'll have an MRI on Tuesday to determine the extent of the damage. Only the mildest of sprains would allow a return this season, and the Bucs' position in the standings might call for some conservatism. The Pirates don't have much at the middle-infield slots, so Castillo's future is much more important to the improving team than the next six weeks are. The Pirates didn't wait to put Castillo on the DL, calling up Ty Wigginton from Triple-A to take his place.

  • Everything else in Kansas City is falling apart, so the injury situation must be bad, right? Actually, while a far cry from the days of Mickey Cobb, the Royals are just barely in the bottom third by DL days. A better measure might be that they've given 13% of their payroll to guys who weren't on the field. It's not getting much better. While most fans are nervously watching the Nebraska campus to see if Alex Gordon has gone to class, David DeJesus and Runelvys Hernandez might not be around for the rest of the collapse. DeJesus is dealing with a slow-healing rib injury that, while improving, is still requiring pain medication. Tests this weekend were inconclusive, according to sources, and the team expects to be very conservative with his return. Hernandez will miss his next start, both due to his back injury and an upcoming suspension. They'll likely go hand in hand. He's not likely to go on the DL since that would only push the suspension back and rosters expand soon.

  • There have been regular, yet unconfirmed, rumors that Darin Erstad was forced from his slot in center field due to a back condition. Analysts here and elsewhere have railed against the move since Erstad was so valuable as a fielder in center, and his bat is so unimpressive as a first baseman. Mike Scioscia hinted that if Garret Anderson is unavailable, he'd consider moving Erstad back to center. As a temporary move, even if Erstad's back is a problem, he'd likely have only a slight uptick in his risk. However, we have to consider that with the Angels in a tight divisional race, a temporary move might become more permanent. Erstad could play well, Casey Kotchman could start hitting like so many scouts believe he will, or the odd injury history of Anderson could crop up again. Mike Scioscia's complaining has overshadowed his usually solid strategic moves this season; it's time to see what he can do when his team needs him most.

  • Mets sources tell me that I shouldn't read too much into the team matching Steve Trachsel's last simulated game up with Victor Zambrano's scheduled start. Once Trachsel is fully ready to go as a starter, there's speculation that Zambrano could be pushed to the pen or even DFA'd. This doesn't seem likely for several reasons, most of all being that the Mets, like most teams, don't have the pitching depth to just give it away. Trachsel may be ready and Zambrano may not be well-suited for the bullpen, but rash decisions aren't necessary either.

  • It's been described as a slow spiral for Luis Castillo this year, pushing 30 and carrying a new line of leg injuries on his resumé. He's had almost every leg injury he can have, from hip to calf, and yet he's still getting on base as well as (or better than) he has in the past few seasons. Castillo was forced into Monday's game after Alex Gonzalez was ejected, but he's not yet recovered enough from his quad strain to play regularly. Castillo seems to be adjusting on the fly, going from a pure speed guy to something out of the Ray Durham catalog.

  • The Orioles may be sold soon, according to The Baltimore Sun. If so, they'll be limping to the end of the season. It's been a waste of a great first half by Brian Roberts, another great season from Miguel Tejada, and while it seems like a step forward, it feels a bit more like the Royals in 2003 to me. (Pardon me while I duck whatever that is Rany is throwing at me.) The Orioles have Daniel Cabrera missing a start with a sore back, Sidney Ponson unsure about a comeback date, B.J. Surhoff ready to come off the DL, and young Jay Gibbons stirring up the rumor mill with his weekend time off. It's disorganized, messy and bad for ball.

  • Quick Cuts: Trot Nixon will be activated Tuesday. The Red Sox should have him back in the lineup after a successful short stint at Pawtucket … Congratulations to the new Eric Chavez family … Ruben Sierra heads to Triple-A for what is expected to be a short rehab assignment … Raise your hand if you thought Cleveland could get back in the playoff race? Yeah, my hand's down too.

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