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May 31, 2006

Under The Knife

Advocatus Diaboli

by Will Carroll

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Every once in a while I'll read an article that makes me think that injury analysis is breaking into the mainstream. Bob Klapisch, you had me at Halladay. Powered by Sport Beans--I'm serious!--on to the injuries:

  • Despite the Tom Gormans and Jamey Newbergs of the world doing their best to explain the Byzantine rules of baseball's various rosters, people still don't understand them, much in the way that those of us who attended state schools don't grasp some of "The Da Vinci Code." Sliding a player retroactively onto the 60-day DL is seldom more than a necessary 40-man roster-minded transaction. In the past few days, both A.J. Burnett and Mark Prior were placed on the 60-day for one reason and one reason only: it freed up a needed roster spot without setting back their rehab process. Neither Prior nor Burnett was expected to beat the 60-day clock back, so there's no net loss to making the move. Why weren't these moves made earlier, some have asked? Because the moves weren't necessary until now. Burnett and Prior both certainly have arm issues, but these roster moves have nothing to do with new developments in their recoveries.

  • The Dodger saga continues, with more intrigue in the training room than on the field. Brad Penny stepped on a number of toes when he said that his shoulder had been hurting him for days, and that he'd fought through the pain in several starts. This was apparently news to the pitching coach, Rick Honeycutt, who quickly said that he wouldn't send a pitcher out there who was hurting. I'm not sure if there are so many Dodgers in the training room that some never make it to the front of the line, but the culture that encourages people to push through injuries is never more evident than it is in Los Angeles. From Penny's famous "one more" pitch in 2004 to the slagging of Yhency Brazoban to the stop-start rehab of Eric Gagne, the Dodgers remain a team with a history of injury problems. I'm not sure what the root of the problem is, but it shows up strongly on the DL day and dollar reports.

    In the meantime, the Dodgers expect to have Jeff Kent back in the next couple days after a hand problem has held him out. Kent's problem is in the "web" of the hand, between thumb and forefinger, and sounds a bit like DeQuervain's syndrome, an inflammatory condition that can radiate into the wrist. I can't find any comps in the database--and worse, my top research assistant has left for the summer to try and help a major league team--but the problem is usually controllable with cortisone injections. I'm not sure if this is the actual problem for Kent, so we'll watch closely. I also failed to mention in yesterday's report that Gagne wouldn't be back until he'd served his two-game suspension for saying that an umpire's mother smelled of elderberries.

  • We don't yet know the results of the MRI that Jim Edmonds had on his lower abdomen on Tuesday, but the results couldn't have been good. Edmonds and Cardinals medical personnel are consulting with Dr. Bill Meyers, the noted sports hernia specialist once described as "the god of groins." If Edmonds is having surgery to repair a sports hernia, he's likely to be out at least two months, if not more. It would also mean that Edmonds is unable to play through the pain, something he's been willing to do for much of his career, raising the possibility that this is more than just a "simple" sports hernia. With the probable return of Roger Clemens happening in combination with this loss for the division-leader, the NL Central just got a lot tighter.

  • Begun the Sibling War has. Bartolo Colon will start his rehab on Thursday, taking a wrong turn into Cucamonga for a short stint. Assuming all goes well there, he'll head to Salt Lake for a more extended outing, then back to Anaheim--or is it LA?--for a return to the Angels rotation around June 10th. The Angels have until then to sort out which of the Weavers they'll keep in the rotation. The key to watch for from Colon in his first outing is velocity; he'll need to be throwing in the 90s to show that his shoulder is back to normal, or close.

  • As I did radio yesterday, I got a question on Andy Pettitte, which surprised me. Pettitte has slid under the radar for most of the season, not pitching well, but not showing any signs of problems with his oft-balky elbow. Pettitte has shown good form at times, flirting with a no-hitter in mid-April and getting shelled on more than one occasion. As Billy Wagner sagely said, you don't have to be hurt to suck. Pettitte is merely a year older and not having the same luck as he had in what could be called a career year last season.

  • Gary Sheffield and Johnny Damon aren't the types to take days off. When they both ask out of the lineup due to injury, it's time to be concerned. Damon is still fighting the effects of whatever is going on in his foot--he describes it as a chip, my sources describe it as a stress reaction. The effect is the same, hobbling him and rendering his speed moot. Sheffield has been playing and swinging hard just days after a cortisone injection, so the worry is that the effects of the spike are wearing off quickly. If so, the Yankees have a bigger problem than they've had all season, because more cortisone injections will quickly become an untenable option. On a more positive note, Octavio Dotel is getting closer. He'll start a rehab assignment over the weekend.

  • Eric Chavez left Tuesday's game with an injured hand. He'll have x-rays on Wednesday after taking a ball off his left hand during a defensive play. The replay doesn't give the best angle to tell exactly where the ball hit him, but he reacted sharply to being hit. Worse, Mark Ellis was also injured in the game, this time while breaking up a double play. Ellis is just back in the lineup from a minor shoulder injury, though this is unrelated. Of the two, Ellis' situation is more serious, though x-rays can be surprising sometimes. At least the A's will have Rich Harden back soon. He'll throw a very short rehab start on Thursday in Vegas--essentially a simulated game against Triple-A competition--then return for a Sunday start in Oakland. The A's are on a run of 20 straight games, so wearing themselves down with injuries makes catching the Rangers even tougher.

  • Quick Cuts: I've never seen a splange, but I have seen a combo of a slider and cutter Rocco Baldelli is hitting over .400 in Durham, but the Devil Rays are in no rush to get him back. With Baldelli and Jorge Cantu closer than ever, the Rays have some interesting roster moves coming up Now that 715 is in his pocket, Barry Bonds asked out of Tuesday's game due to some back pain. This is apparently the result of the long flight and the fences in Florida. We may not see him back in the lineup until the Giants get to New York The amazing part of Xavier Nady's appendectomy isn't that he'll be back at the minimum, it's that that type of recovery is routine.
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