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July 6, 2006

Under The Knife

Older and Smarter?

by Will Carroll

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Pitchers don't ever want to hear the phrase "You'll be seeing Dr. Andrews." Guys like me, getting ready to show their shiny head on TV don't want to hear "You'll be following Ken Rosenthal." That's a quick way to look bad in comparison. I was given the chance to talk performance enhancers on Comcast's "Out of Bounds" program on Wednesday, and it struck me that the discussion of performance enhancers is getting smarter. It's no longer the black-and-white, good-versus-bad "debate" that we heard in 2003, nor is it the simple finger-pointing of 2005. The coverage seems to be grasping the subtleties of the problem, the arms-race nature of the battle between the chemists and the testers, and the impending failure of the testing paradigm. We may be past the Kublerian stages, learning to live with our lost innocence and getting back to enjoying the game for what it is.

Powered by Henry the Puffy Taco, on to the injuries:

  • If there's one thing we know about Chipper Jones, it's that when he thinks he can play, Bobby Cox is going to let him play. Jones got a more favorable diagnosis on his injured left foot Wednesday morning from a specialist and went straight to the starting lineup. Jones went 2 for 3 with two walks, contributing to a Braves blowout. Jones continues to have problems batting right-handed, making it possible that Cox will rest him in some matchups. Apparently, the MRI reading from the specialist indicated no tear, though the earlier reading had shown a tear--I'm beginning to be very wary of MRI reports. The Braves didn't get such good news on Chris Reitsma: he'll have Tommy John surgery this week in Birmingham, explaining some of his poor results this season.

  • The Giants let Tyler Walker get away, perhaps for good reason. Walker will undergo Tommy John surgery as well, after breaking down just over a month into his Devil Ray tenure. There's no indication that this was a pre-existing condition, nor was Walker in any way overused. The Rays find themselves with another pitching injury after a couple years where they were the model franchise for pitching health. The loss of Walker certainly won't cripple the Rays, a team that has operated without a real closer for most of their history. He should be back in time for spring training next season, though he likely won't be back to function by Opening Day '07.

  • This is an interesting article. Susan Slusser gets a great deal of detailed information out of the A's medical staff regarding their various injuries. The key quote for me is where team orthopedist Jerald Goldman says that Rich Harden has an "intact and stable" ligament, but admits there's a strain. Harden's ligament will rebuild with scar, leaving it slightly weakened and, by definition, more likely to tear in the future. Harden has always been a risky pitcher, though one who had that risk more than balanced by his unquestionable talent and the support of an organization with an amazing run of health. Somewhere, the A's lost their mojo, falling victim to the same types of pitching injuries that plague other teams in much the same ratios. What changed?

  • Ben Sheets is finally ready. Ready to go on a rehab assignment, at least. That's progress and great news for a Brewers team dancing on the line between contender and seller. Getting Sheets back before the trading deadline is key to assessing where the team will be down the stretch. A healthy Brewers team could contend for the Wild Card or even catch a Cards team that has struggled with injuries. Carlos Lee and Geoff Jenkins are drawing a lot of attention from several other teams, but Doug Melvin and his staff are hoping that a pennant race draws fans' attention instead.

  • The Rangers will err on the side of caution with Kevin Millwood, skipping his scheduled Friday start and giving him at least ten days to recover from the mild strain of his pitching arm biceps. The Texas rotation is a bit unsettled with the Saturday and Sunday starters still undecided, though John Rheinecker and John Koronka may simply stay on turn. Many teams are adjusting their rotations a bit to make the best use of the break, especially the teams that get an extra day off-for some reason (several teams also have the Thursday after the break off). The Rangers don't think that Millwood's problem will go beyond the one missed start, meaning he'll avoid the DL.

  • It's at about this point last season that Chris Young went from looking like the next Randy Johnson to looking more like a taller Randy Keisler. Young is once again dealing with dead arm, though a precautionary exam on Wednesday showed no structural problems. Young claims that his arm feels significantly better; fans of the Padres aren't feeling quite so sure. He's going to have to show that he can be effective in the second half before we can start talking about him in the same breath with Johnson for anything other than his height.

  • I can't remember the last time a team had its entire starting outfield on the DL. (I'm sure it won't be long before someone reminds me of such an occurrence.) The Yankees are facing that after Johnny Damon left Wednesday's game with an apparent oblique strain. For a guy who was pitched as a play-every-day type of player, Damon is getting more and more banged up as the season goes on. The chronology of the injury is interesting. Damon originally felt it during batting practice, cutting his time short to go back to the training room and soak in the whirlpool. Damon didn't inform Joe Torre and took himself out after a couple innings, feeling the muscle getting tighter and more sore. Damon actually called the injury a "pulled love handle" in a post-game interview. Early indications are that Damon will miss only a game or two, though his response to treatment will be a better indicator of severity.

  • Another thing you don't want to hear is that your breakout outfielder has a staph infection. Alexis Rios remains hospitalized as doctors use high-powered antibiotics to clear the infection from his leg. The leg and Rios are in no long-term danger, though laying in a hospital bed with IVs isn't going to keep him in baseball shape. Rios will be weakened, and even after a return will probably lack some pop and stamina. As far as I can tell, there is no truth to the rumor that Rios has flesh-eating staph, though it would not surprise me if Rios were dealing with MRSA.

  • Quick Cuts: Wade Miller may not make it back from his last arm surgery. His velocity is so poor that sources indicate that the Cubs may cut bait on him soon, allowing him to find a team that can use a project… Randy Wolf is throwing in Philadelphia, meaning his rehab could restart soon. He's saying he could be back by the end of the month, which would be a very aggressive timetable, though possible… Milton Bradley will begin a rehab assigment that should take him through the weekend… Mike Matheny has been sent home. It's increasingly likely that he may not play again this season… Brian Bannister should head out on a rehab assignment just after the All-Star break. The Mets are hoping to get a good look at him before the trade deadline, to help assess their needs… Sometimes life intrudes on baseball. Dioner Navarro and his family escaped serious injury after a car wreck. Navarro's car was struck on the interstate and rolled twice. No one suffered serious injury, though Navarro was sore and held out of Wednesday's game. It could have been much, much worse for everyone, and we're glad it wasn't.

What's on this week's BP Radio, you ask? The Cubs might be looking to replace Dusty Baker. We'll talk with one of the men who could replace him: Razor Shines, currently the manager of the Triple-A Charlotte Knights. We'll also check on All-Star preparations with the Pirates staff, and look back at SABR's recent convention with BP's Maury Brown.
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<< Previous Article
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Under The Knife: Backi... (07/07)
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