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April 18, 2006

Under The Knife

Injuries and Taxes

by Will Carroll

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I spent most of yesterday with my taxes, so no room for an intro. Let's just be powered by a good accountant and get on to the injuries:

  • This is the worst-case scenario. Jeff Kent is scheduled to see an ophthalmologist due to blurred vision. Anyone old enough to remember Kirby Puckett just cringed. I might be clouded--since I've spent the last week working on a research piece for Pro Football Prospectus 2006 dealing with concussions--but there's simply no positive here. All the helmet research, all the concussion detection systems, all the state-of-the-art health care won't take away from the fact that a small, hard ball filled with energy occasionally smashes into the head of a player. When that happens, it's simply lucky when a concussion is the only end result. We'll know more after the examinations, but it will likely be a matter of weeks before we can truly assess how this injury will affect Jeff Kent. The DL seems likely at this stage, though the situation is very fluid.
  • Even as Fausto Carmona is seen as the future, the Indians are not a team so focused on the future anymore. This is a team trying to win right now and getting C.C. Sabathia back will help that quest, assuming he can stay healthy. Sabathia is reportedly about a week away from a return, though returning as early as this weekend is a possibility. Sabathia's mound session on Tuesday will give a final determination as to a return date. It's expected that he'll have one rehab start, likely in Akron, though some have speculated that he may skip that step. He'll be watched closely and probably have his pitch counts controlled in early starts.
  • It's painful to watch two of the best players of this generation hobble around, shells of who they once were. The Barry Bonds story has other angles, but no player has been felled by injury more than Ken Griffey Jr. There are so many parallels here, but history will get to tell that story, not me. The Reds are being cautious with Griffey, placing him on the DL after an MRI showed moderate inflammation of a hamstring tendon. His knees and legs are both problematic, unlikely to hold up over the course of a season in CF. This has led some to say that Griffey may finally be pushed to a corner OF slot or even to 1B. Griffey is expected to miss the minimum this time.
  • The Marlins are in no rush. The team without a home and with only a couple players that a casual fan might name can afford some patience. Jeremy Hermida gets the patient treatment, heading to the DL to allow his strained right hip flexor to heal up. Even after that clears up, the team is expected to give him some time at Triple-A, refocusing his swing away from the glare and breaking balls of the big leagues. There's little doubt that Hermida will return to full-form prospecthood, but there's also little doubt that he may have been a bit rushed.
  • The Tigers expect to get Todd Jones back this weekend, but he'll face a final test, throwing back-to-back days in sim games. Jones has had no problems during his rehab and sources told us that his hamstring has no strength deficit at this stage. That's a very good sign for the Tigers. Expect Jones to be eased in a bit, not heading right into the closer slot.
  • I root for David Newhan. I remember seeing him in Texas and not realizing that he was the son of a sportswriter, longtime LA scribe Ross Newhan. Newhan had a hot streak a couple years ago that's given him a career as a utility player, but a broken fibula will keep him out about two months, though replays looked worse than normal. The bone broke on an awkward slide and he'll have surgery to fixate it. The fibula is the non-weight bearing bone--once healed, Newhan shouldn't have any trouble with it.
  • The Yanks are holding together while their pitching sorts out. They should have two more options soon. Aaron Small, last season's miracle pitcher, is close to a return, throwing well in extended Spring Training. He'll likely have one rehab outing somewhere in the system before returning to the Bronx. He'll go into the bullpen, but will be the first option if a starter is needed. Of course, Carl Pavano is also still in Florida, working to return from his back problems and hoping to be the starter that Small doesn't replace. Pavano has been the most pain-free he's been in some time since coming back from his awkward fall. Despite his progress, he's the better part of a month away from a possible return. With as many setbacks as he's had, it's still no sure thing. We'll begin to hear rumblings of a rehab start in about a week.
  • The Dodgers continue trying to figure out why Jayson Werth is in pain. The wrist problem that has plagued him over the last two seasons is still causing an undue amount of pain on swings--and even in daily activities--so the team's doctors are doing what is called an "exhaustive round" of tests. Werth has had both fractures and ligament problems in the wrist, so there's not much value in guessing what's wrong in there. After missing nearly all of the last two seasons, there's little clue on how Werth will be able to come back.
  • The Giants are quietly becoming a team that relies on solid pitching. Their rotation, one through five, is one of the strongest in baseball. Once Noah Lowry gets healthy, it will be even stronger. Lowry is on the same track as Sabathia, coming back from an oblique strain (and Lowry's injury was, in fact, an oblique strain). While he seems to be ahead of schedule, throwing on the side, he's not. Lowry is still about three weeks away from coming back. Stan Conte and the Giants know that an oblique strain has to heal completely--or as completely as you can in-season--or the recurrence rate is through the roof and often much worse the second time around.
  • Quick Cuts: Jake Peavy is putting Icy Hot in his jock before starts, reportedly because Roger Clemens told him that's what he does. Anyone else have a feeling the Rocket is on the floor, laughing his ass off about now? ... Jim Edmonds will miss the Pittsburgh series, resting his inflamed non-throwing shoulder. There's no change, a bad sign after a cortisone injection If you're not reading Jamey Newberg's new column at MLB.com, you're missing out Ryan Klesko had successful surgery and will begin rehab on his repaired shoulder in about a week Cliff Floyd left Monday's game with what is being called a rib cage strain, though he left after running the bases. We're watching this one Mike Cameron took batting practice on Monday. He'll be back this weekend Good news for Ryan Drese--he won't need surgery. His elbow problem is a flexor tendon strain, not a ligament tear For those of you following the continuing saga of the gyroball, Steven Brown, my latest gyro-tosser, had a nice first outing: three hits, no earned runs, and eight strikeouts with no walks, including seven of the first eight he faced. The gyro wasn't being called for strikes, so he used his new splitter as an out pitch.
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