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August 31, 2006

Under The Knife

Thank You

by Will Carroll

It's not a normal day in these parts. I'll admit to being both tired and excited, nervous and even a bit scared, but mostly just grateful. I'll be making my TV debut tonight at 5:30 p.m. Eastern as part of ESPN2's "The Fantasy Show" and I hope you'll watch, since you're a big reason I'm there. When I started Under the Knife five years ago, I didn't know if anyone would read it. But you did more than read it. You cared. You encouraged. You made this so much more than I ever thought possible. So when you see the "Medicine Man" segment tonight, I hope you'll think of yourself as part of it. UTK is a column powered by many things, but the one constant source of inspiration, information, and ego-check is my readers, the best in the world. So this one's for you.

Powered by my readers--now viewers--on to the injuries:

  • Watching Rafael Soriano go down might be the scariest thing I saw all year. The ball rocketed off Vladimir Guerrero's bat and then off Soriano's head, ricocheting all the way to the dugout. A hat insert, something I've been a strong advocate of, wouldn't have helped Soriano, though he is lucky he was able to turn and take the ball off the side of his head rather than his face. Soriano was watched closely and has been released. He'll continue to be observed in his post-concussive state, though he should be able to return once the symptoms are gone. This remains one of the issues that needs to be addressed by baseball. I don't want pitchers to resemble the armor-clad batters they face, but they do need more protection.

  • While Francisco Liriano makes a big step forward, Brad Radke took a big step back. Liriano had a "sneaker session"--pitching coach Rick Anderson allowed Liriano to throw a mix of pitches from the mound while wearing sneakers instead of cleats. That kept Liriano from getting quite as much push, reducing his overall effort level. The theory is that the lack of traction reduces arm stress, though as far as I know this hasn't been tested. Liriano showed no ill effects and will have another sneaker session on Thursday, which puts him on track for a mid-September return. Liriano is being readied for a return to the rotation. This is in large part because Brad Radke may be done. His shredded shoulder didn't react to the latest cortisone shot and he won't be able to make his next start. The team is treating the situation as day-to-day and start-to-start.

  • The Cardinals are in first place because they played well in the first half and because no one has been even mediocre enough to seize the title from them. The team's given the rest of the division chance after chance. As the injuries pile up, there are likely to be more chances. Mark Mulder had his second start since returning from the DL and it went as poorly as the first. Mulder made almost no progress during his rehab, losing range of motion in his damaged shoulder. It left him unable to make his pitches and unable to get people out from the mound. Mulder was re-examined and now, facing free agency with a damaged shoulder, his people will have him visit Dr. David Altchek in New York for a second opinion.

    Jim Edmonds remains out with post-concussive syndrome. If that's not bad enough, Tony La Russa has been making subtle jabs at Edmonds to the media. The fact is that it's not, as La Russa says, "up to Jim to tell me when he's ready." It's simply whenever Edmonds stops having the symptoms. No one, not even someone as talented as Edmonds, can play with headaches, nausea, dizziness, and reduced visual acuity. La Russa is doing a good job of deflecting blame but a poor job of leading. Add in a back strain to Gary Bennett that pushed Yadier Molina back into action despite a sprained elbow and you can see that the Cards will need the rest of the division to continue their own immolation tactics.

  • The good news is that David Ortiz is out of the hospital. There's not much known about the results of his tests, but the bottom line is that everyone I spoke to seems positive. There have been whispers about everything from too much caffeine to heart attacks, but there's no public evidence that this was anything more than a mystifying condition. Perhaps Ortiz's condition will convince more people to have their hearts checked. The Sox slugger could be back on the field as early as the weekend, though team sources tell me there's "no rush" to get him back out there.

    The Sox are hoping that a cortisone shot in the wrist will allow Wily Mo Pena to get back out there soon. The Sox can use the power, though wrist injuries to power hitters are always worrisome. There's better news with Jason Varitek. The Sox captain will make a rehab start on Friday at Triple-A, followed by another start on Saturday. It's anticipated that Varitek could be back on Monday for the big club. Beyond all that, the Red Sox are hoping that all turns out well for Jon Lester. We certainly wish him the best and hope to see him on the mound soon.

  • No one I have spoken with from the Orioles misses Javy Lopez much. If Ramon Hernandez has a strained oblique, as is feared, they might start to miss Lopez at least a little. Chris Widger and recent acquisition Danny Ardoin are backing up Hernandez right now; they're adequate backups and should be able to give Hernandez the rest of the season off, if necessary. An oblique strain would put Hernandez back in late September, a point that hasn't meant anything in Baltimore for a while, aside from the impending return of The Wire.

  • Quick Cuts: Carl Pavano is now claiming shoulder problems. It's time for the Yankees to cut bait Gary Majewski made it through his rehab and should be back with the Reds soon. They can use any bullpen help they can find Kyle Farnsworth was unavailable on Wednesday due to back stiffness, forcing Scott Proctor into the closer role. (Mariano Rivera was unavailable for the second game of the doubleheader.) If you're in the Indianapolis area, we'll be at Champps in the Circle Center tonight from 4-7, watching the debut of "The Fantasy Show" and talking baseball and football. Stop by and say hi.
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