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August 3, 2006

Under The Knife

Vacation

by Will Carroll

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I'm on "vacation" in Chicago, where it featured both 98 degree heat and then torrential, Noachite-level rains. I'm headed to see Cirque du Soleil tonight and it's still raining, so I hope that tent doesn't leak. Powered by Gino's East, on to the injuries:

  • The Cardinals didn't get a Jocketty miracle at the deadline and so they remain the best team in the worst division. It gets you to the playoffs, but it makes for a few worried Cardinals fans. Much of their hope rests on a return to form by Mark Mulder. He made it through his simulated game this week without any problems, setting him up for a rehab assigment. He could go out as early as this weekend, though no final decision has been made public. According to MLB.com's Matthew Leach, Mulder's stuff was "solid," though there are no reports on his velocity. Mulder's expected Sunday rehab will be key if the Cardinals hope to do anything besides show up in October.

  • Forgive me if I'm a little suspicious anytime I'm told that Octavio Dotel is about to join the Yankee bullpen. He's had more setbacks than any recent TJ guy, especially considering he almost had to convince a doctor to do his surgery. Dotel is expected back this week, though his various minor league rehab appearances don't give us much information on what he'll be when he does get in a game. During his last stint, Dotel had velocity, but not command (and vice versa) depending on the pitch. He was at least consistent in his inconsistency. He'll be a nice addition to a bullpen where Mariano Rivera can't think of anyone's name, but definitely misses Tom Gordon.

  • A lot of people wrote in with questions about why my guess for Jason Varitek's return was lower than others published. While admitting that it's just a guess based on the available information, I'm using the injury database to give me the return dates that others have had, like Jason LaRue. Meniscus injuries do take four to six weeks in the general population; if you went to your doctor and he told you that you needed the operation that Varitek is having, you wouldn't be back on the softball field for six weeks. Jason Varitek is not a softball player. He's a highly trained, highly conditioned and, most importantly, a highly motivated professional athlete. That, plus the information I have on the nature of the injury, led me to put this on the low side of the return window. The Sox are pleased with how David Wells responded after his start. He had some arm soreness and "normal" soreness in his problematic knee. The Sox are less pleased with the rehab of Matt Clement. He's still feeling pain in his shoulder and will be shut down after his latest setback. It looks like he's done for the season.

  • Scott Kazmir says his arm is "perfect." Should we believe him? Pitchers seldom stay in the middle when asked about their arm. They'll either say nothing is wrong, or everything is wrong. Kazmir's reaction is pretty typical so it likely tells us nothing. There's no reason to think that he'll be out longer than the minimum with the soreness. This was a precautionary move, forced by the team's roster needs. It will be interesting to see how Rocco Baldelli reacts to his latest freak injury. He's beginning to make a career of them. Baldelli was hit by a pitch on the arm hard enough to "freeze" the nerve and lock his hand. It literally had to be pried off the bat he was holding. He was back in the lineup on Wednesday night, a very good sign.

  • The Braves need all the pitching help they can get, and they're getting signs that Kyle Davies might be back soon. He made it through a rehab start, testing the healing level of that painfully torn groin muscle. He went two solid simulated innings; most importantly, the groin had no problems. "I didn't feel it one time," Davies told the AP. He'll now head to the minors for a rehab assigment (expected to last two games), putting him on track to be in the Braves rotation by late August. This is an impressive feat, potentially making him the only pitcher to return in-season from a Grade 2+ groin strain in my database.

  • I can vouch that the heat and humidity can take their toll on you--just walking over to Jamba Juice on Michigan Avenue got a good sweat going. Johnny Estrada had catcher's gear on Tuesday and ended up leaving the game with symptoms of heat illness. Its somewhat ironic that a team from Phoenix comes north to get heat illness, but it's no laughing matter. The team was off due to rain yesterday and Estrada should have no serious problems.

  • You know the season's all but over when the team starts talking about position changes for next season. That's where the Orioles went yesterday, discussing a shift to DH for Jay Gibbons. The injury-prone slugger would benefit by the move, one hastened by Nick Markakis and his plus defense. Gibbons would get the most benefit by keeping his knee from taking the standing and stopping necessary in the OF.

  • Quick Cuts: For those Mac/Intel users out there, the new Flip4Mac allows you to see MLB.tv. Very, very cool Things are looking bad for Bobby Crosby. According to the SF Chronicle, he may have a stress reaction in his back. That could cost him the season, if true Barry Bonds is still hitting when he's out there. He's just out there less and less. It will be interesting to see what they do with him when/if the Giants fall out of contention. Will he still play to chase Aaron or will he shut it down, hoping to come back next year? Darin Erstad will have surgery in the off-season to shave down heel spurs. It's doubtful he'll return this season Robinson Cano is due to play a rehab game this week and be back in the Bronx next week Mike Sweeney will be activated from the DL early next week.

Be sure to check out BP Radio this weekend. Brad Wochomurka had the reins back in Indy, breaking down the trade deadline deals and chatting with Yankees GM Brian Cashman about his team. I'll be back next week.

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