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August 25, 2005

Under The Knife

Comebackers Galore

by Will Carroll

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As cool as MLB.tv is, it didn't show me Daisuke Matsuzaka last night. That took a link of Seibu's home page, with some kind of assist from Yahoo. (Hey, I don't read Japanese.) Matsuzaka was filthy, if not always effective, but what struck me was just how different Japanese baseball felt. I hadn't watched a game from there in more than ten years, which made me wonder if the World Baseball Classic might open our eyes to the quality of baseball elsewhere, leading more games to be available in our market. I'm pretty sure I'm not in the blackout area for Chunichi.

Beyond Matsuzaka's pseudo-gyro and four-beat windup, there were players with complex rituals, odd stances, and an endless song being played on some kind of horn. I mean endless--like all six innings I watched. We're not far from a day where I can watch Chunichi at 3 a.m., a businessman's special from Double-A at noon, then a major-league game at night, all by Wi-Fi from my local coffeehouse. Yeah, I just giggled like a schoolgirl.

Powered by a new coffee, maragogype, that I found at The Fresh Market--it's a clear 1A to Jamaican Blue Mountain's #1 slot--on to the injuries:

  • Another one! Jeremy Bonderman took a vicious comebacker off his glove wrist and it looked like another Mark Prior incident with a slightly different location. Luckily, the results may be better for Bonderman. He went down in pain, but initial imaging has come back free of fractures. He'll have more tests today to make sure that nothing is missed and that there's not, as with Prior, a compression fracture. If the wrist is not broken, Bonderman still has a bruised, swollen and painful arm that's important to his delivery and self-protection. He'll be guided by pain tolerance and his ability to get back on the mound. Best guess--pending those tests--is that he'll follow the pattern of Matt Clement; his next start gets pushed back, and he's lucky not to have had much worse.

    The Tigers are also hoping that Rondell White is able to come back after surgery on his dislocated shoulder. An MRI found a rotator-cuff tear as well, but since it's his non-throwing shoulder, it shouldn't affect him too much. He should be back in time for next season.

  • Shannon Stewart was the latest victim of the Undefeated Wall. Even the soft hefty bag material of the Metrodome was enough to jam Stewart's throwing shoulder. There was some confusion in initial reports due to the wording of the alert, but it was the right shoulder. Imaging showed no significant internal damage and Stewart will avoid the DL for now as the team waits to see how he responds to treatment. His function will be the key to whether a retro move is necessary. If he can throw and hit before the 15 days, they'll get him back out there and try to stay in the wild-card race. That looks possible, if not probable, though there should be no long-term consequences either way.

  • Bobby Crosby looks like the key to the A's season. When he was out of the lineup, the team was bad. When he came back, they got good. Coincidental to that was the six-week loss of Rich Harden and it's there where I feel the A's lost more than with Crosby. Harden's stuff is a great complement to the rest of the staff and he's become the clear, often unhittable ace that any playoff staff needs, the guy who can come in and dominate another team, winning the game largely on his own.

    Harden is hurting again with some type of indeterminate core muscle problem. While trainer Larry Davis says that it's not the oblique again, he's not saying what it is. Harden is scheduled to pitch Saturday, though they also made sure that Juan Cruz was available if necessary, lifting him early from a Triple-A start. There is also rampant speculation that Daric Barton may be called up as soon as this week to help the A's offense. (Also, the A's, like all teams, are subject to random drug testing. They had 8-10 players drug tested on Tuesday. Unlike the NFL, MLB is testing all year long. Kudos from me on that.)

  • The Padres have been patching together the back end of their rotation for much of the season. Pedro Astacio, little more than patchwork himself at this stage in his career, is dealing with a sore and weary shoulder, pushing his start back by a day. Instead, the Padres will use Adam Eaton on Friday. Eaton returns from a successful rehab stint in Triple-A where he was able to re-discover his breaking ball and overcome the finger problem that was limiting him. The problem is not cured, just dealt with for now, so off-season surgery remains a possibility. Astacio is expected to start Saturday, though Chan Ho Park is also a possibility if Astacio's shoulder doesn't respond to the extra rest.

  • The Pirates may be a bad team on the field, but they've become interesting. Zach Duke looks like the second coming of Tom Glavine, Chris Duffy and Nate McLouth are an interesting pair of choices for center field, Ryan Doumit and Craig Wilson could be one of the more intriguing catching tandems in baseball, and Jason Bay has solidified himself as one of the top players in baseball, even if no one seems to notice. While Lloyd McClendon and Dave Duncan nearly started a brawl behind the batting cage, the rest of the Pirates seemed to be in the training room. To be a contender next season and beyond, the Pirates will need to get healthier, figuring out ways to reduce their DL days significantly.

    Duke will miss one start with a "medium strain" of his push ankle. It's not significant, but allows the Pirates to reduce his workload without taking a public relations hit. Jose Castillo will miss the rest of the season with a Grade II MCL tear in his left knee. He'll avoid the scalpel however, resting and rehabbing instead. Castillo is expected to be ready for spring training and shouldn't be affected much if at all by this injury. Also hitting the shelf is Jody Gerut, his damaged knee is deteriorating and he's likely done for the season. Finally, Oliver Perez will have one more start for Indianapolis on Saturday, then will return to the Pirates rotation, though it is unclear who he'll bump.

  • Let's see--they've tried holy water, sacrificing a live chicken, and Marie Laveau. I'm not sure what the next step for curse removal is for the Dodgers. Milton Bradley is headed for surgery on a near-full thickness tear of his patellar tendon and damage to his ACL, a significant injury that will end his season and likely impact him in 2006 as well. Bradley hurt his knee Monday on an awkward baserunning play, though this doesn't seem like an injury that just happened; it's more the type of thing where the hyperextension was the straw that broke the camel's knee. Was Bradley injured on his "you didn't score from second!" play? That's an interesting question. The other question is, could Bradley continue to play with this injury. Yes, he could, especially with bracing, though much of that would be determined by pain tolerance, risk tolerance, and unfortunately the perception of intolerance. Whether he will or not should be determined in the next couple days.

  • The Angels weren't surprised to hear that the specialist Dallas McPherson saw about his hip condition concurred with previous doctors, recommending surgery. Angels sources say that as early as August 1, the Angels front office had begun planning for life without McPherson down the stretch. They may have some interest in Mark Bellhorn. McPherson will now have surgery before the end of the season rather than trying to come back and DH in September. The Angels also saw the first rehab outing for Kelvim Escobar. It was short but successful, with Escobar's elbow showing no ill effects. He struck out four in his 1 2/3 innings. He'll have two more starts in the minors, building up stamina, before giving the Angels a boost in mid-September. There's some discussion of using Escobar in the bullpen on his return.

  • The Braves will adjust again as Mike Hampton head back to the DL. Hampton looked poor in his two starts since coming off the DL, showing that the problem was still extant. He had poor velocity, poor control, and with Jorge Sosa pitching well, it was the time to give up on the experiment. As well as some pitchers come back when they leave Colorado, it's interesting to note that many have injury problems shortly after leaving. While there's no real pattern to this, it could be that pitching at altitude may need some type of multiplier when it comes to workload.

  • Quick Cuts: Scott Podsednik will get some cuts in with Triple-A Charlotte, starting Thursday. He'll be back in Chicago by Monday, but the groin, according to Podsednik himself, will not be 100% this season. The White Sox have scored 24 runs in nine games without him Jeff Bagwell has begun taking live batting practice. He could be back on the bench as early as next week. He'll head to Double-A Corpus Christi's new ballpark for rehab Tom Gordon is out with a urinary tract infection. It's not up there on the macho scale, but his antibiotic regimen has left him weak Larry Walker will be on a one-game-on, one-game-off schedule for the foreseeable future. The Cards need him in October, not August Tyler Walker will miss the minimum as his shoulder heals up. Walker is a labrum survivor, so this is good news that it's just impingement Larry Bigbie heads to the DL again with his Achilles problem. He'll heal quickly, but the Rockies needed an outfielder on the roster Tony Armas left the game Tuesday with pain in his pitching shoulder. He had a cortisone injection and is questionable for his next start.

We're going to have a lot of fun with this week's BP Radio. We're out on remote with the rest of the ESPN 950 crew, so we'll be doing live call-in with Joe Sheehan, Jim Baker and Ben Murphy. Be sure to call in with questions during the 11 a.m. Eastern hour at 800 825 5290.
Related Content:  Back,  Shoulder,  The Call-up

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