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April 27, 2006

Under The Knife

Eventful Day

by Will Carroll

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Let's see what's happened on an eventful day. The Nationals haven't been sold, according to MLB, despite having it announced on the telecast. The Braves have been sold, though it doesn't look like anyone noticed. The Braves are likely to be sold again, probably before the Nationals owner gets named. The Twins might get a stadium. The Marlins are telling people that San Antonio's out unless they back off the May 15th deadline. Barry Bonds goes opposite field again. People are still pitching to Albert Pujols.

And people wonder why I like the simplicity of complex medical puzzles. Powered by my newly recharged Sidekick with knowledge that the Sidekick III is coming soon, on to the injuries:

  • Many of you wrote in with questions and observations on Todd Helton yesterday. Sadly, it seems like many readers have experience with Crohn's disease or other major gastrointestinal issues. Helton's acute terminal ileitis is closely related to Crohn's, in essence the acute (short-term) version of the chronic Crohn's effects. There's some disagreement as to whether acute can go chronic, but that's something we won't know for a while. Helton is making good progress, regaining strength as expected and hopefully rejoining the team on the road this weekend. There's no timetable for his return, but I don't expect him to be out much longer than the minimum. Given the sudden yet powerful nature of the problem, I doubt there will be significant stamina or strength problems.

  • If I told you who gave me the details on Kerry Wood, you wouldn't believe me. Wood threw 39 pitches in a three-inning stint in Arizona giving up just one hit, striking out five and walking one. That's not only good, it's efficient. Doing that against Rookie Leaguers isn't the same as doing it against major leaguers, but it's certainly a promising start. It's clear now that the setback Wood had was minor and that he is now ready for his first rehab start. Expect Wood to head to Double-A West Tenn sometime early next week to make the first of two rehab starts. If all goes to plan, Wood should be back in Chicago around May 12th.

  • The A's have their share of pitching problems right now, testing the depth that Billy Beane and his staff have put together. Rich Harden left yesterday's start with back spasms in the fourth inning, a problem Harden has never had (or at least never had so severely that it became public). The severity was downplayed after the game and sources tell me that the spasms were "minor." Harden, I'm told, was removed as a precaution. "You saw what happened with his shoulder last year. [The A's] weren't going to let his mechanics go out of whack because his back stiffened up." Harden is not expected to miss his next start, but this will depend on his response to treatment. The team is also hoping to get Esteban Loaiza back in the rotation this week, either Saturday or Sunday. Huston Street also threw in the bullpen without any problems. Assuming he comes to the park today with no undue soreness in his chest, he should be available this weekend.

  • Jorge Cantu heads to the DL with an injured foot. Cantu broke one of the bones--the navicular--at the top of his left foot after fouling a ball off it. The bone isn't a big one, but is important because it helps the foot keep its arch. Thinking of this like a broken wrist is helpful. Cantu is expected to be out three weeks and may lose a bit of quickness in the first few weeks after he's back. The Devil Rays have had a series of traumatic injuries, perhaps catching a wave of bad luck after two exceptionally healthy seasons. There was a nice discussion of the team yesterday on Baseball Beat (XM 175) between Marc Topkin and Charley Steiner. Topkin noted that Rocco Baldelli, due back soon, has such a violent throwing motion that he's concerned he may not be able to play the outfield the same way he did after Tommy John. It's something to watch.

  • Brian Bannister left his start with a strained hamstring. Early reports and video showed Bannister pulling up hard as he was running home, hobbling most of the way after rounding third. (Video available at the sidebar of this story. You can see Bannister in clear pain, collapsing to the dirt as soon as he touches home and grabbing at the belly of his right hamstring. This is the push leg for the young righthander, so expect him to head to the DL.

  • There's a lot of chatter about Curt Schilling's 133-pitch outing. After watching the game, I'm not so concerned about this outing. Schilling seemed in control, was not laboring until about the 125-pitch mark, and was removed shortly thereafter. I'm sure that the Red Sox were watching closely and, in truest Earl Weaver form, the hitters never told Terry Francona that Schilling was done. We'll only know after his next starts if there's any residual effect. Given Schilling's outing and the rest of the rotation, I wonder if the Red Sox couldn't give up their quest for a fifth starter and be the team that goes to the four-man rotation.

  • This much we know. A rotator cuff cannot be measured in large part by velocity. A player that has a torn or frayed cuff can still get the ball up there as fast as they did before the injury. What they can't do is slow down the arm since the cuff is the group of muscles that decelerates the arm. It's like a car without brakes going 90 mph. Literally. Eddie Guardado might not be the speed demon that Kerry Wood is, but every pitch since he tore his cuff in 2003 has subtly been doing damage. The way he's pitched this year, it appears that the damage is starting to really take its toll. Let's be clear--the guy they called "Everyday Eddie" is now paying the price for that decision.

  • There's a lot of illness going around the major leagues right now. Some of this is natural; these guys are human and spend their time around a lot of people. Illness loves proximity, so thinking of these guys as superhuman doesn't usually work when it comes to immunity. Scott Rolen has missed a couple games while fighting an upper respiratory condition, but it's not considered serious and he should be back in the lineup by the weekend.

  • Jamey Newberg recently reminded me that last July, I got a chance to see Coco Cordero pitch and almost immediately said he was hurt. As with most injuries, I wish I was wrong. Cordero is pitching like a guy fighting to pitch like he once did when he was healthy. Some pitchers know how to win without their best stuff, which makes for great rain delay stories. Some rely on that very stuff and have very little margin for error. Lose a bit off the fastball, some movement on the tail, or the separation for their change and they go from elite to released in a hurry. I hope the Rangers coaching and medical staff can put Cordero back together. See, the reaction about Cordero being hurt was my second impression. The first was that he's a special pitcher.

  • Quick Cuts: I mentioned home run distance accuracy yesterday and got a message from the guys at Hit Tracker Online. Pretty cool stuff and definitely worth checking out Julio Santana goes on the DL with stomach problems while Colorado's in town. Coincidence, I'm sure Ryan Doumit will make a quick stop in Indy to test his injured hamstring, though the Pirates have been impressed with Ronny Paulino Edgar Renteria will be back on Friday, as will Ken Griffey Jr. Know how I know this Latin velocity problem is really confusing? Not one reader response on it yesterday.
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