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June 23, 2006

Under The Knife

The Source

by Will Carroll

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The "motion to quash" subpoena came out today in the sub-battle of the BALCO case. As Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, authors of the book "Game of Shadows" fight to keep their sources secret, a simple copy-and-paste detailed on Slashdot made their principled stand moot. According to the document as published on the SF Chronicle and elsewhere, beneath the redactions, the source for much of the grand jury testimony was Victor Conte himself. Conte was clearly not the only source, though I may owe Jeff Novitzky an apology, since I--and many others--had assumed that he was the key source for the book. Conte appears headed for another midnight rodeo with the government, leaking information then claiming that the leak prejudiced the case against him. The BALCO case never ceases to amaze, yet maybe, just maybe this chapter of the tale is drawing to a close.

Powered by Adobe Acrobat, on to the injuries:

  • We learned tonight that Albert Pujols might not be human. Just three weeks after an oblique strain put him on the DL, Pujols got back onto the field to take on the White Sox. It wasn't quite Willis Reed or Kirk Gibson, but you have to admire the flair. Pujols was noted by several observers to be swinging with "more arms," something that shows he might be a bit tentative about torquing himself as hard as he normally does. Pujols flew out to the track as part of an 0-4 night. I'm still worried about the chances of a recurrence for Pujols, but the slugger has never failed to exceed every expectation anyone has placed on him. I'm not going to say he'll start now.

  • We learned tonight that Roger Clemens might be human. At 43, Clemens can't be expected to be the pitcher he was last year, when he was Cy Young quality. He's been away from the game for a couple no, he's been working out nearly non-stop, though on his own terms. Clemens, in essence, never went away, making all the talk of his rusty performance on Thursday less valid. Clemens looked human, something people aren't used to, and worse, luck put him up against Francisco Liriano. Clemens looked to be a bit off mechanically as well, his head tilting to the glove side more than usual and making the occasional grab/rub at his right hamstring, the opposite of the one that he tore at the end of last season. Clemens pitched decently with the pitch count being his biggest enemy. He wasn't going to meet expectations; that electric crowd wanted 27 strikeouts in a perfect game with him hitting the game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth.

  • Clemens wasn't the only player coming back on Thursday. The Rocket overshadowed A.J. Burnett, coming back after elbow problems. Burnett looked tentative on the mound, extending his arm too quickly, a flaw that led to him leaving too many pitches up and away to lefties early in the game. By the third, he looked solid and much more fluid. His control was good, though he did begin to wear down in the fourth. All in all, it was a nice return; enough to be happy about, plenty to work on before his next start. The Jays have to be happy with what they have.

  • As Pujols returned and Anthony "Flat Cap" Reyes flirted with a no-hitter, Mark Mulder was admitting to a shoulder injury. Mulder had been pitching poorly for a month, finally melting down in this week's game with the White Sox. In watching video of Mulder's last few starts, I thought that he was having back problems, keeping him more upright and leaving his pitches up in the zone. Mulder did in fact have his back checked in May by team physicians. The shoulder problem may have been forcing him into a different slot to be comfortable, which would explain the different posture. More likely, the shoulder is a cascade injury compensating for the recurrent back problem. Tony La Russa's comment that "he couldn't get his arm into his throwing slot" to the Post-Dispatch is all the information we have to go on. I won't even hazard a guess at this stage beyond the vague "strained shoulder," but Bernie Miklasz had this one nailed.

  • Yes, I missed the call on Jim Edmonds. I watched the video of his injury and didn't see him hit his head due to So Taguchi crossing in front of him. A second look at the video feed at MLB.tv had a better angle, one I wish I'd watched instead of the other. Edmonds hit his head on the warning track, directly on the back of his head which makes a lot more sense than if he'd hit his head on the wall. As one reader said today, I "owe an apology to the wall, who was just an innocent bystander on this one." Edmonds was out for Thursday's game and will be re-evaluated on Friday.

  • Dan Uggla has to be the biggest surprise player of the year. The Marlins 2B has been playing well above the highest expectations, so it's disappointing to see him pushed aside, even short-term, by injury. His right hamstring is merely sore, according to team sources, and the team is using this as an opportunity to rest their rookie. "It's a long season," a team source told me, "and a lot of these guys are going to wear down. [Girardi] will have to find places to get them [rest] here and there." The Fish got Josh Willingham back into the lineup, returning from a sprained hand. He was in the lineup as a DH more for travel reasons than anything else. He's expected to be back in LF once the team gets back to NL play.

  • Quick Cuts: Glad to see the Denver readers are coming around about UTK. What? This headline isn't about me?. Oh. Cesar Izturis is back for the Dodgers, starting at 3B. We're watching his throws Randy Wolf and Jon Lieber both made rehab starts Thursday. Neither went particularly well, though neither had a setback Mike Sweeney should be back ahead of schedule, sometime before the ASG. Insert your own Jason Grimsley snark here Darin Erstad will make a decision on surgery just after the Angels decide whether he goes to the DL. Bone chip removal from the ankle is a simple procedure. Add that to Erstad's quick healing, Chuck Norris-esque persona and it's possible he could be back by the end of the season Derrek Lee will go to the minors for two games to find his swing, then return to the Cubs at the start of next week. Adjust your rosters accordingly.

Thanks to all the responses regarding yesterday's youth pitching horror story. The pitcher is currently rehabbing, and I'm hoping we have a happy ending to relay at some point. Be sure to check in on BP Radio this weekend, as we'll have Dr. Neil ElAttrache, the Director of Sports Medicine at Kerlan-Jobe, M's strength coach Alan Wirtala, and top pitching prospect Tom Gorzelanny.

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