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September 15, 2005

Under The Knife

Almost Home

by Will Carroll

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Powered by a box of CAO Criollos, on to the injuries ...

  • The Giants seem to be losing players by the handful just as they finally get Barry Bonds back. Jason Schmidt is out with a groin injury, as is Moises Alou. Now J.T. Snow is out with a hamstring strain, likely for the remainder of the season. Snow injured the leg while running hard for first base. Although Snow hasn't had previous hamstring problems, he's always been something of a slow healer, so losing a bit more than two weeks is not just likely, it's a near certainty. The Giants don't need to DL him and will keep him around, both to treat the injury and just in case; in the last week, if the Giants can pull closer to the Padres, anything goes.

  • It was an odd scene as Gabe Kapler was laying down, unable to trot around the bases on Tony Graffanino's home run. Instead of jogging in to score a run, Kapler ruptured his Achilles while rounding second base. He is clearly done for the season and next season is in question. Red Sox fans will remember all the problems that Nomar Garciaparra had with his Achilles, but this is a full rupture, much like Cliff Floyd had. Both injuries are lingering and problematic even after a return, but the rupture is actually pretty straightforward. It's reattached surgically, rehabs relatively easily due to its mechanical nature, and most players return to their sports. Kapler was already a fringe-type role player for the Red Sox with a detour to Japan on his resumé, so this may be enough to reduce him below the major-league threshold.

  • Fans watched Roger Clemens honor his late mother by blazing fastball after fastball past the Marlins on Wednesday night, but the team's offense is getting thinner. Two young players that have been parts of an often anemic offense, Chris Burke and Willy Taveras, are dealing with minor injuries that limit their availability. Taveras has a nasty cut on his right middle finger. It will heal and certainly doesn't affect his legs, but it's nonetheless the type of event that can loom large in close races.

    Burke's injury looks a bit more serious; he left Tuesday's game with a subluxated left shoulder, suffered when he dove for a ball in the outfield. Sources tell me that Burke's shoulder has some history with this and is very loose to begin with. Expect him to miss a couple more games.

  • The A's need all the help they can get as they attempt to hang on to both their divisional and wild-card hopes. The return of Bobby Kielty isn't quite the same as getting Bobby Crosby back, but that's what they'll get for now. Kielty should be back in the lineup by the weekend.

    Crosby wasn't able to make quite the progress the team had hoped, and his return for all but a few games of the regular season is now in doubt. The lack of panic in dealing with these injuries is pretty exceptional, something you can note about both the A's and Red Sox.

  • The Cardinals are using their lead to get their team healthy. They'll try to find days off for both Albert Pujols (heel) and Mark Grudzielanek (back), as well as using Larry Walker (neck) and Reggie Sanders (leg) sparingly to save them for when they're needed. The pitching staff will likely get some extra rest once the team clinches, though La Russa is committed to getting Chris Carpenter as many chances to win as is reasonable. None of the injuries, outside of Scott Rolen's, should impact the playoffs unless the players begin to break down more than expected. Larry Walker, I believe, is the key. He's coasted through the season, knowing he'll earn his pay by bringing a championship back to Old Busch rather than by playing in August.

  • Brad Radke has been pitching hurt all season, much like Carlos Silva has. It hasn't been as open, but I've pointed out that not only has Radke been able to pitch effectively for most of the season, the new Twins staff has been able to keep most of the team out on the field despite problems. They can't be blamed for Torii Hunter's ankle or Justin Morneau's bone chips. Keeping guys on the field and effective is part of the job that's not easily measured or even noticed. Of course, knowing when to pull the plug and rest a player or send him for surgery--looking at the long term--is also part of the job, and that's one where I think the Twins may need some work. Radke is rumored to be heading for offseason shoulder surgery. Just as with Morneau and Silva, I'm not sure why they're still waiting. Morneau, especially, could have had in-season surgery and perhaps returned more effective.

  • The saga of the White Sox and Damaso Marte gets weirder. Multiple sources state that Marte was placed on the DL, an unusual move in September, due to his demands. Marte, never a favorite of Ozzie Guillen, further distanced himself from the organization by requesting that two independent physicians check him out. Marte is under contract for next season, but with this one essentially over for him, he shouldn't expect to be back on the South Side, healthy or not. Expect the bullpen to shorten a bit in the last few weeks.

  • The Pirates may show off a bit more of their future if both David Williams and Mark Redman can't go the rest of the season. Bryan Bullington, Ian Snell and Tom Gorzellany may all make starts while the veteran pitchers recover from injuries. Gorzellany is the least likely, though Bullington is pitching in the International League championship series, making it tougher to call him up given that the Pirates already took most of the team that put them there, including scheduled Game One starter Snell. Oliver Perez got tossed early on Wednesday, so he may come back on short rest, saving the prospects for another day.

  • Quick Cuts: Aaron Boone can't go glove side? Looks like two years hasn't given him back everything he left on the basketball court … Several e-mails asking for information on Ray Miller and the "serious procedure" he's having after the season. He's tried to keep that private and I'm going to honor that request … The Tigers should get Dmitri Young and Jeremy Bonderman back later this week … Will Mike Piazza return? Expect the Mets to give him a classy curtain call as his career closes.

Related Content:  Achilles Heel

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