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July 15, 2006

Under The Knife

Weekend Update

by Will Carroll

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I'm finally back at UTK HQ after a week spent on the road. There's a laundry list of injuries that I have to get to, so I'm working the weekend to make sure everyone's up to date. Let's get right to it. Powered by Jenn Sterger, on to the injuries:

  • Everyone wants more on the Manny Ramirez story, but really, there's nothing new here. I stand by the story I ran Monday. What got lost in the controversy is that Ramirez's knee is actually a non-story. He'll be sore, but likely not worse than he is now. If Ramirez can play 19 innings, as he did Sunday, then I'm not too worried. With most meniscus injuries, an MRI is overkill; it can be diagnosed without the additional expense.

    The Sox have a more interesting story with David Wells. Wells, out with documented knee problems, has made significant progress over the past two weeks. He's now throwing more and a side session could be imminent. There's no definitive timetable, or even any expectation that Wells will return. Anything he gives them is a bonus.

  • If the commissioner wants to take shots at players for skipping the All-Star Game, he has to show the same verve when a player injures himself in the game. Carlos Beltran has a sore knee, but he doesn't blame the slight hyperextension we saw at the game for his problem. Beltran says this is an existing, chronic problem that pops up about this time each year. He also told Mets.com that the Wrigley outfield was a problem for him, causing this latest episode. While it doesn't sound like a major problem, it's something that could push him out of the lineup here and there. Teams with big divisonal leads often rest their players more, regardless of health.

  • I hate to steal from TWIQ, but Ozzie Guillen nailed it: "Joey Cora couldn't hurt anyone with a bat." Carlos Zambrano didn't mean to test that theory. The Cubs are very lucky; Zambrano was hit on his pitching elbow by a fungo swung by Cora, keeping him out of the All-Star Game. It doesn't look like it will keep him from making his next start on Saturday. It will bear watching, especially with his mechanics. The Cubs can't afford to lose any more pitching, what with Mark Prior again heading to the DL. Prior didn't make "enough progress" with his oblique over the break, forcing the Cubs to weigh the risk of exacerbating the injury. It's the smart move, but tough to take with his history.

  • Eric Chavez is still having problems with his forearms. I feel like the A's--I can't explain this one. No one seems to have a reason why this happened in both arms. I hate unknowns. An MRI didn't give much insight. Resting over the break didn't help. That leaves Chavez in the same position he was last week, out for the weekend series and heading to the DL if there's no improvement. It's a typical slow DL cycle for the A's, a team that's been held back by all the injuries they've had this season.

    The A's are also waiting to hear from Dr. Lewis Yocum. Rich Harden elected to see Yocum for a second opinion rather than starting a throwing program. It's a common move that may not mean anything beyond the surface.

  • The Aubrey Huff deal has the potential to give the Astros the production they need from the third-base slot. Morgan Ensberg had a great 2005, but his shoulder injury sapped his bat this season. In true Astro style, Ensberg went out on the field and gutted it out despite the pain and loss of production. The Astros finally pushed Ensberg to the DL in hopes that they could get him back to that early 2005 form. Listed with a shoulder contusion, Ensberg's lingering injury is likely more complex. There's no real timetable here--the team hopes he'll improve, but at worst, he can be pushed back out to fight through the slump.

  • Kelvim Escobar has a history of bone chips in his pitching elbow, so the first thought when he headed to the DL is that they've recurred. Last year, when Escobar had his mid-season surgery, I noted that there had been an acceleration of his recurrence cycle. While there's no confirmation that this is the problem, the "tender elbow" bears watching, even if he's able to come back quickly. Escobar can be very good when healthy, but the risk of having him on your roster has just gone up.

  • A couple of pitchers are working it out in the minors with good, not great results. It's sometimes enough to just survive and advance through rehabs. Players are working on things, feeling their way though the outings rather than trying to dominate. Randy Wolf didn't have impressive numbers before or after his hand injury, but he didn't show any real problems either. His comeback from Tommy John surgery is still on track. Look for better results next time out, then maybe a trip back to Philly. The Rangers' Adam Eaton has been better in his outings, staying on track for his return. Eaton is focused more on feel, so you should be focused on his control numbers: walk rate and pitch efficiency.

  • The All-Star Game introductions gave us some injury information. If you saw Alexis Rios walk out, you saw the limp. That showed just how far Rios has to go before getting back out on the field. The infection required another procedure to drain the leg, pushing back his planned rehab assignment. While Rios will return within the month, there's very little to go on to assess how he'll react when he is able to come back. I'd expect that beyond the obvious loss of speed, he'll be off with the power in the first weeks.

  • Quick Cuts: The Brewers will get Tomo Ohka back early next week. Ben Sheets is about a week behind him ... Mark Mulder got a thumbs up from the medical staff and will begin a more formal throwing program. There's still no timetable for his return The Mets are just being cautious with Jose Reyes. He'll be back sometime this weekend once his pinky is fully healed Mark Grudzielanek is having tests on his lower back. It looks like he'll be headed to the DL, killing his trade value The Frank Thomas lawsuit is interesting. Between this and the impending Barry Bonds indictment, I've spent far too much time on law lately.

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