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August 24, 2006

Under The Knife

Sushi

by Will Carroll

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I wish I could go the rest of my career without talking about steroids, amphetamines, groupies, divorces, cheaters, and jerks. I can't, but I notice one thing, over and over: it's all fair game until it's your guy. People ask how Giants fans can defend Barry Bonds, but I bet Red Sox fans would defend David Ortiz. Yankees fans would defend Derek Jeter. I'm just tossing names out there of beloved players, ones who have had logic pushed aside for devotion long ago. Just remember, you can love the game without loving the players and for every bad seed, there's someone like Torii Hunter raising money for youth baseball, or Jamie Moyer helping Seattle-area charities by the truckload. I've said it before and I'll say it again--we cannot expect more from our athletes than we do from ourselves.

Powered by the combination sushi bar and Starbucks at the Bristol Marriott--no, I'm serious--on to the injuries:

  • Mere days after AGM Rick Hahn extolled the health and results of Jim Thome on BP Radio, Thome's had his first serious injury of the season. It wasn't his back this time, but his legs. Thome pulled up lame heading to second, leaving the game with a strained left hamstring. Expect Thome to miss at least a couple games, though we'll have more guidance Thursday afternoon. Losing Thome for any period of time could have a major impact on the Sox' playoff chances.

  • Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated said it first, but let me pile on a bit. Gary Sheffield has, for the past couple weeks, been an absolute mystery. More than usual, I mean. I'm sure the Yankees have a pretty good handle on Sheffield, but speaking to team sources, I sometimes doubt whether it's any better of a handle than any of his other former employers had. Over the past two weeks, I've been hearing whispers, over and over from disparate and independent sources, that Sheffield was slowing his rehab deliberately, feeling no pressure to return. "He says he's not needed," one source told me, "and that he's got to worry more about next year than this year." Several people I spoke with that have knowledge of his rehab process claim that Sheffield shouldn't be behind Hideki Matsui. "[Matsui']s busted his [rear] and [Sheffield] is negotiating his contract. He talks more to his agents than he does the trainers." While none of this information can be independently confirmed, Heyman's report seems dead on. Sheffield has gotten a free pass on this and many other issues. He's behind schedule for a return and there needs to be an explanation.

  • Meanwhile in Boston, Manny Ramirez is getting blasted for his annual hamstring strain. Just my phrasing there echoes the Boston media, assuming that Ramirez is taking a mid-summer sabbatical when his team needs him most. The fact is that hamstring strains are tough injuries and the description of Ramirez's cramping and tightness fits with a pre-strain symptomology. There's no way to confirm this. No tests or MRIs are going to give much guidance. If Ramirez says it's tight, we pretty much have to take his word for it. Maybe the medical staff would cover for him if they hadn't seen any evidence, but probably not behind closed doors. Many of us have taken a day off from work, claiming a "mental health day" or similar excuse to ourselves while sounding sick over the phone. I told you I'd say it again--we often expect more from our heroes than we do from ourselves. I have no evidence that Ramirez is injured, but those claiming he's faking it have no evidence to prove that he is. Late news comes in that Ramirez left Tuesday's game with knee soreness and will undergo an MRI.

  • If the Cardinals were hoping that Mark Mulder was going to provide a spark with his return, well, the only spark might have been one over the flammable pile that the Cards' second half has become. Drilled. Hammered. Whatever word you want to use for getting soundly beaten applies to Mulder's first start since late June. He gave up nine runs in three innings against an admittedly solid Mets attack. He had no command, a near-complete lack of control, and nothing resembling an out pitch. In fact, in the limited video I saw of Mulder, he looked like the same pitcher that went on the DL two months ago. That's a very bad sign.

  • Remember that minor back injury that Bobby Crosby suffered? Not so minor, at least in terms of time lost. Crosby aggravated the back during his rehab and according to the team is "back at square one." The team has avoided putting him on the DL, something the A's often do when a player could return before the full 15-day term of the List. Crosby, eligible for a retro move, seems to be a DL candidate. If he's back at "square one," then he's at least a week away from a return, one would think. The A's are playing this one close to the vest, as usual, so we'll continue to watch and dig for more clarification on Crosby's status.

  • Ryan O'Malley hopes his name doesn't go next to Moonlight Graham's in the next edition of the Baseball Encyclopedia. O'Malley had a magical emergency start last week, then followed it with a nightmare, leaving the mound with an injured elbow while his entire family looked on from the Wrigley stands. O'Malley got good news on Tuesday when an MRI showed no ligament damage. The Cubs are listing him as out with a forearm strain, though they gave little additional information. O'Malley was quoted by Cubs.com as saying it was "just a strain, a little swelling around the ligaments." Yes, readers, that suggests a sprain, not a strain, though I've made that same mistake many times. Calls to the Cubs PR department were not returned after I asked for clarification, so we'll go more with the 'return in September' portion of the prognosis when trying to assess this. We should see O'Malley throwing in about a week, if the best case scenario holds, then back on the mound by the 8th or so.

  • Many people questioned why the Mets seemed to be reacting so calmly to a possible blood clot in the pitching arm of Tom Glavine. First, tests indicated that there was no blood clot. That to me is pretty self-explanatory. Second, while the tests showed there was no clot, the doctors did put Glavine on low-dose aspirin therapy, which is effective at preventing clotting, according to many studies. According to two cardiologists I consulted--neither of whom treated Glavine or saw his records--the therapy appears to be standard and appropriate. Beyond that, we can only hope the best for Glavine.

  • Rhomboid. It's just fun to say. Unless you're Chris Young or the Padres medical staff, that is. Young continues to receive treatment on his injured back/shoulder muscle and doesn't figure to miss more than one start. That said, there's nothing in the database that allows me to project this. There's no specific rhomboid strains and certainly no pitcher just like Young. This is an injury that could go a few ways, though the Padres have been very up front and accurate with their injury guidance. If you have other options, it's worth watching Young's first start back to see how he does. Fantasy teams have that luxury, while the Padres don't.

  • The Mets may have dodged a bullet with Glavine, but Ramon Castro has been soaking in the bad karma. Castro injured his knee during a rehab assignment with the Single-A Brooklyn team, resulting in a scope. This is a very similar situation to Jason Varitek and Castro should have a similar rehab time, without the pressure of being in a race or being a team captain. Castro's injury actually is a bit more serious, involving the MCL, though no repair was made or needed there. Expect him back in mid-to-late September, just enough time for the team to be comfortable (or not) with their backup catching situation for the playoffs.

  • Quick Cuts: Yes, I was surprised to see Mike Mussina head to the DL with his strained groin. No, it's no more serious than I told you yesterday If you didn't read Jeff Passan's article about Julio Franco, you're missing out. I'd still like to know what Franco's parents are/were like Grady Sizemore gave Indians fans a bit of a scare when he missed a game with back spasms. He's back in the lineup and all indications are this is extremely minor Jonny Gomes is expected to end his season soon to have shoulder surgery. A final decision will be made with team doctors later this week Reader Paul Bellows writes: "Just saw that the huge high school tournament in Japan has ended with Yuki Saito pitching 4 complete games in 4 days and throwing 948 pitches in 7 days!!" Yikes.
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