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May 25, 2006

Under The Knife

Lounging Around

by Will Carroll

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I know I have some extreme positions on Barry Bonds and I've ceased trying to persuade anyone with fact. Still, let me give you an example of how this has been handled. You'll probably remember how the media took Bonds to task for having his own leather lounge chair in the clubhouse. Here's one story where it was addressed--and another and another and another. Check the tone of how it is referred to in each piece. Now, take a look at the top picture in Bob Nightengale's interesting story about clubhouses. It's clearly the Giants clubhouse. It's been a couple years since I was in there, but unless things have changed, the lockers at the far end belong to Barry Bonds. Just behind that pillar on the right would be his infamous lounge chair. You'll notice plenty of other seating in there as well. It's another thing about Bonds that was mishandled.

Powered by a summer of questions after the season finale of Lost, on to the injuries:

  • The pop was in Cole Hamels' shoulder, not the Phillies season, but you couldn't tell the difference on Wednesday from the fan reaction. Hamels was placed on the DL after an MRI showed a strained shoulder. Couple that diagnosis with Hamels' description, and it sounds like the problem is in his rotator cuff. However, reports and sources both tell me that there was "no structural damage." Did Hamels do something reminiscent of Bartolo Colon or Ben Sheets? That's a possibility as well. The Phillies will be extremely conservative with Hamels. How quickly they get him back throwing is going to tell us a lot about the severity and persistence of this problem. The Phils also got some good news, though not as many noticed. Randy Wolf is throwing well and is on track for a return around the ASB from Tommy John surgery. They're also expecting to get Aaron Rowand back in CF after missing the minimum with a broken face. Rowand has been running and taking BP; the only test left is fly balls and avoiding walls. He should have no problem with either.

  • Let's see--Randy Johnson looks shaky, goes five innings and gets hammered by Manny Ramirez, but comes away with the win? That's a good stat, eh? Johnson once again appeared to have no command and, worse, no confidence. He still has the stuff and his mechanics weren't appreciably bad, yet he's still leaving the ball up. He's unable to throw a fastball by someone now that he lacks his famous velocity. It's something he'll have to adjust to, perhaps by throwing more breaking stuff--there were times during last night's game that his pitch selection reminded me of Francisco Rodriguez--or mixing in a new pitch. Jorge Posada wasn't behind the plate last night, both because Johnson was on the mound and because he's resting an inflamed hamstring tendon. There's a lot of speculation that Posada's condition is being caused by misfit shinguards. If so, it could be corrected with the use of knee saver pads, though I'd expect that Posada will DH more in the short term. The Yanks are also watching Jaret Wright. He injured his groin in his last start and could miss his next start, though the injury is not considered serious.

  • People have wondered what the last two years of heavy workload has done to Chris Carpenter. The answer: not much besides a Cy Young. The inflamed bursa sac Carpenter has is a minor condition and easily corrected. It probably has nothing to do with either his workload or the nerve problem that ended his 2004 campaign. The Cards think that skipping the start on Wednesday will allow him to rest it enough to quiet the problem, though they're leaving the possibility open that they'll retro him to the DL and bring up Anthony Reyes for one or two starts. In the longer term, this shouldn't be an issue.

  • Rich Harden will have a simulated game either Thursday or (more likely) Friday after another successful bullpen session. If it goes well, he'll head to Sacramento and be back to Oakland by next weekend. That's a major plus for the A's given their increased pitching injuries this season. Esteban Loaiza had a minor setback, needing extra rest between simulated games while still lacking the velocity he'll need to succeed. The A's require every bit of the pitching depth they've built over the past year to stay competitive.

  • Mark Prior was also throwing a simulated game in Arizona, still searching for his lost velocity. Reports from observers say that once again, Prior threw well and without pain, but lacked the pop. This time, my observer had an idea why--"he's throwing scared." If the problem is mental rather than physical, then it can more easily be fixed. Pitchers coming back from injury often have similar problems letting it go. Remember Johan Santana in the first month of 2004? Prior's 65 pitch outing in the rookie league is likely to be followed by one more start at the same level before heading out for his expected two game rehab stint. The Cubs are going to push Kerry Wood back after his shoulder got "cranky." You can tell Wood's a new father given that description. There's no new damage and, given the proper rest, this should get better with time. In other Cubs news, the water cooler is day to day after the normally cool Greg Maddux went after it with a bat. That's a bad sign, almost as bad as a Tony Womack sighting.

  • The Red Sox sent Coco Crisp to Ft. Myers for a couple games, which will be followed by at least one game for Pawtucket over the weekend. If there are no setbacks--and there shouldn't be--then Crisp would head out with the Sox on their upcoming road trip, beginning in Toronto. The kidney stones Crisp experienced have been a bigger problem than the broken finger, which sources tell me is "well past fully healed." Crisp has shown no signs of the injury during his Fenway batting practice sessions. The only question now is if Crisp will hit leadoff.

  • The Twins knew what they were getting in Luis Castillo. His long history of leg injuries has sapped his speed and playing on turf hasn't helped. He's already set for off-season knee surgery, but the continued problems and swelling may force that surgery to happen sooner. Castillo is not recovering well when it swells, meaning Ron Gardenhire will need to find both more off-days for Castillo and a credible backup to play in his place. Castillo is expected back for Friday's game against the Mariners, featuring a Francisco Liriano vs. Felix Hernandez matchup.

  • Quick Cuts: Daric Barton hyperextended his elbow at Triple-A; I'm sure Kevin Goldstein will be watching this one for us …Ian Kinsler is back in the lineup for the Rangers on Thursday. I'm watching his bat control… Brian Roberts was back in the Orioles lineup, leading off and looking healthy … I have no idea if this is real or a viral marketing campaign but this story involves former reliever Billy Koch … The Padres think that both Ryan Klesko and Woody Williams will be back around the ASB … Darin Erstad will have a short rehab starting early next week … Jody Gerut was finally placed on the DL. There's some correlation between this incident and the Chris Duffy saga … Forget Albert Pujols--when are people going to start asking Casey Blake about steroids? (I'm kidding!)

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