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August 26, 2005

Under The Knife

UTK HQ

by Will Carroll

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We're sitting here just on the edge of the end of August. Pennant races are actually starting to happen, teams are shaping up, and we're about to see the showcase of several top prospects, at least the ones we haven't already been introduced to yet. It's been a year of transition, of changing of the guard and perhaps the era, but no one seems to know exactly what the butterfly will look like when it comes out. If September ends up as interesting as August, and if next year is like this year, you won't find me complaining. I just hope that some of the work we've been doing and that is being done across baseball by various medical teams and researchers makes it into the game and that we'll have more of the top stars on the field, not in my column.

Powered by, apparently, title insurance, six pounds of paperwork, and at the end of the day, a spanking new headquarters for UTK, on to the injuries:

  • Shannon Stewart avoids the DL because of the calendar. You'll see a lot more of this in the next couple days, then the DL becomes mostly irrelevant, making injury tracking much more difficult. Roster expansion is the reason. With no benefit of placing a player on the DL--normally, you replace him on the roster--teams will avoid the worker's comp premiums by just letting them heal at the end of the bench. Stewart will probably miss between three and five games, but a 15 day DL wouldn't allow him to come back until Sept 10th. In a pennant race, that could be the difference, so even if he stays out longer than expected with the shoulder injury, he still won't hit the DL. If you're used to looking at transaction reports, those won't help. We'll do our best to keep up with everything here, though it becomes much easier for a team to hide injuries during September.

  • Eventually, the Dodgers will just wear the uniforms of the Las Vegas 51's, confusing Vin Scully. Cesar Izturis is the latest to head to the DL, once again felled by his back. Again, the date might save him from a trip, but he hasn't been right for most of August and the pain is beginning to radiate, indicating that there's nerve involvement. That's dangerous and he'll have an MRI to see just how bad things are. Izturis' numbers have been sliding in almost every category, leaving the Dodgers to adjust again on the fly and see if they can find the one short burst they'd need to challenge for the NL West.

  • Nothing frustrates a medical staff like putting a player back on the DL. They work hard to get them better, to make sure that they're ready and prepared once they get back to the field, but it happens sometimes that they've misjudged. Sometimes, the decision is a baseball one, not a medical one and they deal with it as best they can. The Braves took a chance that Mike Hampton could hold up, but finally, the herniated disc just couldn't take it and his season is likely done. He's in the midst of a series of cortisone injections so there's hope, but Jorge Sosa has been better this season, so there's really no reason to rush.

  • News came in too late to make yesterday's deadline. Sometimes my sources aren't kind enough to meet my deadlines and my rule is that if I don't have something to add, I'll just focus on the information where I can do some analysis. Aramis Ramirez had an MRI to determine the extent of the quad strain. The test found a moderate tear with some fluid and bleeding. This is an exacerbation of a previous injury, meaning that the scar tissue never quite took hold or that he overtaxed the now-weakened muscle. Again, Ramirez will likely avoid the DL but could be severely limited through mid-September. In addition, Nomar Garciaparra is having problems with his back. These are related to his groin. How, you ask? Simple. Muscles tend to have opposing muscles; working in concert, they help the body move and control itself. Garciaparra had some stomach muscles involved in that traumatic tear which has unbalanced his core. Despite hard work in rehab, he's still dealing with that and one of the symptoms is back pain. It's not a long-term concern, but is certainly limiting him now. In over a year, the Cubs and their fans haven't seen what Garciaparra can do, though some are beginning to think that yes, they have.

  • Strained right lat. That's what has Rich Harden pushed back, but what is it? This diagram gives a good look and you can clearly see both how it would affect a pitcher negatively and how closely its related to the oblique. Harden doesn't figure to miss much time, but any time is too much in a close race. His power pitching won't make it easy to get him back in without significant risk, so expect the A's to be conservative. How they deal with Harden will show just how interested this team is in "going for it" this season. Right now, it looks like Joe Kennedy will take Harden's start on Saturday.

  • Troy Glaus has looked a lot like the player the Diamondbacks thought they signed when he's been able to be on the field. The team has done a nice job of spotting rest for Glaus in order to keep him available. He's already had one series of injections to keep his damaged knee from getting out of hand, but the popliteal tendon is acting up again. The knee has contributed to his back problems as well, so they're reluctant to ask too much of him until they get the knee under control again. Getting his season to show up with the numbers they wanted while managing the injury is a big feather in Paul Lessard and Dave Edwards' caps.

  • Quick Cuts: Looks like Reggie Sanders will be back on September 1 with some slight limitation. The Cards are rumored to be trying to add to their OF before then Jeff Niemann, the top Devil Ray prospect, will be shut down after a groin injury. He was not expected to be called up Curt Schilling returned to the rotation on a pitch count (he didn't hit it in five innings) and had no problems What is it with that angry LF wall in Minnesota? Brent Abernathy went a round with it and came up on the losing end. I may try to collect which walls are the baddest of all walls in baseball Chien-Ming Wang won't be back this weekend as some have speculated. Next week? That's quite likely.

Back next week as we watch injuries, races, and begin moving to the new HQ.

Related Content:  Back,  Year Of The Injury

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