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July 27, 2006

Under The Knife

Mound Woes

by Will Carroll

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As we prepare to open up Will's Mill this weekend, there's a lot going on behind the scenes. I'll be in the air most of Thursday with the Sidekick blazing while my ground team keeps me up to date. Powered by Lords of the Realm by John Helyar, on to the injuries...

  • Bartolo Colon looked bad from the first pitch on Wednesday. The Angels' ace was stiff and mechanical, short-arming his delivery and looking as if he couldn't turn. Was it his back? His shoulder? This time, it's his pitching elbow. Colon will have further tests, though reports indicate that he didn't have a ton of swelling after the game. This could be something of a cascade injury, but the problem is that Colon has so many separate problems, there's no way to tell what injury led to this. The best-case scenario is that the altered mechanics led to the elbow irritation; the worst case is that something tore. We'll know more soon.

  • Scott Kazmir is a much more positive story. Kazmir will miss his start Friday, never a good thing, but the Rays are doing this more as precaution than reaction. Kazmir has some soreness and fatigue in his pitching shoulder. He's testing the 130-inning hurdle, one of the four landmarks for seasonal fatigue. They start at 100 innings, then every 30 additional innings. Research has shown that the ability to "clear" one of the hurdles for the second time shows an ability to consistently hit that level. Kazmir came just short of the 190 IP hurdle last season, and is on pace to break that. Keeping him on track to stay around 200 innings is a smart plan by the Rays for his long-term health.

  • The Cards continue to lead the NL Central despite a mediocre lineup and injuries that have kept the other teams in the division hanging around in spite of their own issues. Scott Rolen doesn't look to be running normally, leading one reader to suggest that he's dealing with a groin problem. He's not getting many off days, so watch to see if the signs of a problem continue to show. Mark Mulder is making progress. The key to his comeback, according to Matthew Leach of MLB.com, is getting full extension during his follow-through. With the impingement in his shoulder, that's not going to be an easy goal to reach. Mulder can make it back, just not soon.

  • The Indians have waited patiently to see if Ronnie Belliard could avoid the DL, but a final decision will be made on Thursday. Belliard's hamstring has kept him out nearly a week. The problem was caught quickly and has been aggressively treated by Cleveland's medical staff, and while the results don't mesh with some of the public statements, the Indians aren't a team that throws up smokescreens. Belliard simply hasn't made enough progress yet to play, which is not to say that he won't make it back in the next eight days, making the decision on the list a tough one.

  • It was the foul ball off the foot, not the running, that hurt Omar Vizquel. He stayed in the game after taking one off the right cleat, then left as it continued to swell and increase in pain. Although Vizquel had X-rays that turned out negative, he'll miss at least a game or two as the bruise heals. Vizquel is playing well, but the nicks and dings take a bigger toll on older players, the kind that can hold them back just enough to make a difference. The biggest problem could be if the foot costs Vizquel some range over the next week to ten days.

  • Rickie Weeks lost the end of last season to a thumb problem, so as the Brewers try to decide if they're contenders--a decision that will be made on Thursday--seeing him missing games with a wrist problem has to hurt. Weeks' injury is to the right wrist, no relation to the left thumb problem, but like Gary Sheffield, his incredible bat speed is generated by his wrists. Weeks is expected back in the lineup for the weekend, so watch for a return of his power before forging ahead. Remember that power doesn't mean just homers: doubles, or even some hard-hit balls, are just fine for this purpose.

  • Rich Harden is scheduled to throw again next week. I wouldn't be surprised if this was pushed back. According to several sources, Harden will come back in a relief role, but this does not signal any sort of change in the long-term plan. Harden is expected to come to camp in 2007 as the staff ace. The A's hope that their young flamethrower will be healthy enough to help both down the stretch and over the next few years. The creative solution is a good sign. The news isn't so good on Bobby Crosby. His back is acting up again, this time with stiffness and soreness. Crosby just can't stay healthy for extended periods, making his obvious talent worth less to his club. If health is a skill, as I believe it to be, Crosby does not own that skill.

  • The Orioles sent pitcher Kris Benson back to Charm City for tests on his pitching elbow. According to sources close to Benson, this is the same problem he complains of every season. "Clockwork," I was told. You might notice that he's just cleared that 130-inning mark. He'll have some imaging done as a precaution, but all signs point to simple tendonitis in the elbow. He'll likely miss one start to help the elbow calm down.

  • The last thing the Dodgers need is for Nomar Garciaparra to come up with an injury. He's been healthy and productive most of the year. But now, at one of the worst times with the team struggling to stay in the race, he's strained a ligament in his right knee. Sources conflict on which injury he sustained, but the mechanism of injury suggests that it's the medial collateral ligament. A decision will be made on the DL over the weekend. Right now, it looks like Garciaparra could avoid hitting the list, though he will be limited for a couple weeks.

  • Quick Cuts: I'm very happy about the way Mark Prior pitched. He looked at times like the pre-injury Prior. It was very cool to watch the game on one of the biggest screens I've ever seen… David Ross was activated from the DL after losing a month to an abdominal strain. He shouldn't show any effects from the injury… Garret Anderson will be limited to DH throughout the weekend. The Angels are leaning towards just resting him… Keith Foulke will head out on a rehab assignment. As with David Wells, if Foulke shows major-league stuff, he'll be back quickly.
Related Content:  Back,  Elbow Stiffness,  Flamethrower

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