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June 21, 2006

Under The Knife

Solution

by Will Carroll

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I have often said that you shouldn't complain about a problem unless you have a suggested solution, and I have one for both the Commissioner and the Players Association. It addresses the lack of funding for anti-PED research and education, and it will build on the success MLB has had with things like the Pink Bat Games and the Prostate Research Home Runs.

Give us one game. Designate one game (maybe on a Saturday) where each player gives up that game's pay, and have it deposited into a research fund overseen by an independent bureau. The same goes for the owners: they give up one game's gate receipts. Gross, not net. I haven't done the math to see how much it amounts to, but it's going to be much, much more than what's being done now. Add in a healthy dose of education and PSA's and it gets better. That money can help and the public relations could help more. All I'm asking is that Baseball takes this problem seriously for one game.

Powered by the white dual-core Macbook, on to the injuries:

  • It's hard to say that an injury that requires a custom piece of hardware is getting better. Cliff Floyd is tooling around in a custom boot to protect his ankle, yet seems to be getting closer to a return. The boot is considered to be both precautionary and therapeutic, as it keeps the ankle from being overstressed outside of controlled situations. Floyd is expected back on the field, sans boot, as soon as he gets a bit more lateral stability. There's no firm timetable on that, though most sources think it will be another week before Floyd pushes Lastings Milledge back to Norfolk.

  • Is it a cascade injury for Milton Bradley? Bradley lasted just a week after coming off the DL, as a strained shoulder now puts him back on. Bradley's left shoulder is opposite where he had the most problems (right oblique), but the mechanics of his powerful swing certainly may have put more pressure on his opposite shoulder. Indications from the A's are that this is a muscular problem rather than a structural one, though there is no stated timeframe for his return. One interesting note caught my eye in a recent article on the A's--Rich Harden is working with Paul Hospenthal as he rehabs from his elbow strain. If you recognize the name, you're a racing fan. You probably know Hospenthal's more famous wife, Danica Patrick.

  • I think everyone knows by now what a simulated game is. Until today, I'd never heard of "simulated bases." Calls to several sources were met with the audio equivalent of a blank stare, so I'm still left wondering what simulated bases are. Shannon Stewart knows, since he was the player being put through the paces to test his foot. As far as I can tell, the team set up bases in the outfield--near perfectly good bases in the infield--and had Stewart run various patterns. He'd run to first, try for a double, and go first to third or second to home. I'm guessing either grass helps or the grounds crew wouldn't let them on the dirt, but that's just a guess. Stewart, it seems, did whatever he was supposed to do with this exercise and has a rehab assignment upcoming. He'll DH when he returns, making the whole exercise seem a bit pointless.

  • The Phillies are getting both their Liebers back soon--Jon Lieber and Mike Lieberthal are both nearing a return to the Phils. Lieber is heading for a rehab start in Clearwater, likely to be a one-game stint to give him a bit of a warm-up. Lieberthal is also prepping for a slightly longer visit to the minors as he tests his problematic hip. Given Lieberthal's position and interrelated history of injury, the Phils realize that he's going to need more rest. That leads some to think that the Phils could be in the market for a catcher like Javy Lopez, an ideal partner for Lieberthal.

  • There was a great discussion yesterday on XM's "Baseball Beat" between Charley Steiner and Mike Krukow. Krukow detailed how Mike Matheny received a concussion not by one strong blow, but by several lesser blows directly to the face. Steiner, the former voice of ESPN boxing, has seen a few concussions in his day and it led to an interesting back and forth on the value of the hockey-style mask. Steiner was down on the mask, stating it needed more padding. Given that this style has been in the NHL for years, I have a hard time believing this is true. Krukow had a great point in that catchers usually know where the hit is coming from--the ball in front of them, usually fouled straight back by a stationary batter--whereas a goalie has more lateral movement to be aware of. In that respect, the old style cage mask does have an advantage. There's a happy medium somewhere and Mike Matheny would probably love to wear one if he comes back. Matheny is still dealing with positional vertigo. That means when his head gets in certain positions--in this case looking up--he gets dizzy and nauseous. You can see why that would be a problem. There's no timetable for Matheny's return, even after he was sent to a neurologist this week.

  • Scott Hairston didn't have the debut he wanted. Maybe he took Jayson Stark's article on tough guys a bit too seriously. It was another lost battle with a wall that did Hairston in during his first game up with the D-Backs. Hairston injured his right shoulder on the left field wall while chasing a fly. Perhaps the thought of him being a DH during interleague play should have told us something. Hairston had an MRI on Tuesday, though results were not made public. Even if he avoids the DL, he'll likely be sent back to Triple-A as expected before he's healthy enough to get back in the big league lineup.

  • The Nats are on a roll, but they have a line heading to the doctor's office. Nick Johnson was sent back to D.C. to have his back checked by the team's orthopaedist. It appears that Johnson will head to the DL with the problem, said to be a severe spasm on the lower left of his back with radiating pain to his side and left leg. Yes, that sounds serious. Backs are complicated so there's no way to put a timeframe or a solid diagnosis on it at this point. It's disappointing for Johnson and does nothing to remove the injury-prone tag he carries. Tony Armas Jr. also headed back to D.C., but he saw another specialist, this time about his elbow. Pitching coach Randy St. Claire told MLB.com that he thought this was a cascade injury, caused by mechanical changes resulting from Armas' previous back problem. Armas is also expected to head to the DL just as John Patterson returns.

  • Quick Cuts: Kerry Wood was scheduled to throw a simulated game on Tuesday. As of deadline, I had no reports on the game. If it went well, he'll start Sunday Melvin Mora was hit on the kneecap by a pitch. X-rays came back negative, but no more information on his condition was available The Brewers will go with a matchup fifth starter, using Carlos Villanueva or Zach Jackson, depending on which hand helps the team more. That's creative You're with me, TRL.
Related Content:  Back,  Mike Krukow

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