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July 17, 2006

Under The Knife

Angel Not in the Outfield

by Will Carroll

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The baseball world seems a bit on edge, as if the impending indictment of Barry Bonds is news. This has been slowly coming, like an onrushing tidal wave towards baseball for the better part of a year. When Victor Conte and Greg Anderson went to jail, it wasn't over. When Patrick Arnold pled out, it wasn't over. Jason Grimsley and the redacted affidavit that still fuels fear across baseball was a sideshow to the main circus. It's always been circling Bonds. The best and brightest in the media have been in a froth and now, faced with an actual indictment, it isn't steroids that's threatening Bonds. It's perjury. It's tax evasion. Bonds has become some strange mix of Pete Rose and Al Capone with Bud Selig staring into the mirror and seeing Judge Landis. Call me when there are some facts.

Powered by time management, on to the injuries:

  • The Twins made their best run and gained little on the White Sox and Tigers. Now, in the space of a weekend, they've lost two-thirds of their best outfield and are left with the remains of Rondell White. Shannon Stewart is back on the DL with a recurrence of the plantar fascia strain that has bothered him most of the season. Torii Hunter followed him after x-rays showed a stress fracture in his fourth metatarsal. Reader Michael Steuck asked if Hunter's injury could have any connection to his ankle injury from last season. While it's possible that the injury caused some changes in his gait, it would be tough to make that connection stick. The result is the same, and preventing a recurrence is going to require a good amount of work from the medical staff. The turf in Minnesota is again factoring in, with both players lobbying for a solution that doesn't exist. Neither is likely to be traded while their value is stunted by injury.

  • The Jays spent a lot of money and had a lot of expectations. Finding themselves in the middle of the division again, no one seems to be either happy or filled with ideas on how to fix things. The team is close enough to think themselves a contender, held back just enough by injury to think that there's ground to be made up without a major overhaul. The team keeps losing players to odd injuries and circumstances that couldn't be helped. Troy Glaus went from the Home Run Derby to the bench in the space of a few days. Glaus is suffering from patellar tendonitis, a condition that doesn't come on suddenly absent a trauma. Glaus' pullup on the basepaths didn't look traumatic, but we'll wait to hear from the Jays after Glaus is examined more thoroughly on Monday. The Jays continue to deal with an outbreak of MRSA that pushed Ty Taubenheim to the DL, the second recent victim of the outbreak. The Jays aren't to blame here; many teams have dealt with these bacteria. The conditions of every clubhouse and, too often, the poor hygiene habits of players make it a tough fight.

  • The Angels are caught in the no-man's land of baseball's cyclical, generational change, bookended by the unsettled and the injured. Darin Erstad, perhaps more than Mike Scioscia, has personified the Angels during their contender run. Erstad is maddeningly inconsistent, overrated and overpaid. His skills have been eroded by injuries, while his intangibles remained apparently intact. Erstad's ankle/foot problem will finally be dealt with surgically, ending his season and possibly his time with the Angels.

    On the other end of the spectrum is Jered Weaver. He's been compared to everyone from Mark Prior to, well, Jeff Weaver. His amazing career start has made many question if the Prior comparison holds truer than expected. Unfortunately, an arm problem will make those Prior parallels more real. Weaver's funky, crossover motion is both worrisome and part of the reason for his success. The Angels will be hyperconservative while Weaver deals with recurrent biceps tendonitis. He had this problem in college and never had much of a problem coming back.

  • David Wells is on a different timetable than most pitchers. The big dollar bonuses are mostly by the boards now and the biggest reward is helping the Red Sox to win another World Series ring. Wells is rehabbing with the idea that the very second he's able to help the team, when he becomes the best available option, he'll be on the mound. The big lefty is working closely-monitored side sessions similar to between-start work. You can't really count on anything this season from Wells, but you can count on something happening. Wells, like his teammate David Ortiz, is a master of the dramatic.

  • When Mark Prior collided with Marcus Giles a few years ago, it seems to have been a collision that infected both of them with the type of bad luck typically reserved for a Tex Avery cartoon. Giles' latest injury is another hand injury, this time involving his left thumb. X-rays were negative, but there's still some concern as to what is causing the pain--it was severe enough to convince Giles on Friday that he had broken it. If the swelling and pain continue to affect his grip, he won't be able to hit effectively, pushing some at-bats to Wilson Betemit. With Giles' name in some trade rumors, the Braves have a lot of incentive to get him back on the field as soon as possible.

  • Quick Cuts: Chris Young is questionable for his next start due to illness Dan Shaughnessy had a great look inside the UCLA drug testing lab in the Sunday Boston Globe Looks like Mike Matheny is done for the season. I know that CERA has been taken to task, but everyone in SF thinks this is a big loss Corey Koskie is on the DL indefinitely with post-concussive syndrome. There's no timetable, as we saw with Matheny Ben Sheets had a nice rehab start and will make one more in Triple-A Nashville. There's no reason to think he won't make the start after that for Milwaukee Dave Ross hits the DL with an abdominal strain, an injury tougher for catchers to come back from Ryan Klesko is making progress for a return. The Pads would love to get him back ahead of the deadline to showcase him for trade.

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