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September 7, 2006

Under The Knife

Deep In the Heart of...Hartford

by Will Carroll

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I'm deep in the woods of West Hartford, dealing with a record number of phone calls and text messages while prepping for this week's "The Fantasy Show." With a ton of football stuff happening with Thursday's kickoff game, I'm making sure that you keep getting the best baseball information possible, both here and on BP Radio, where we have some great guests coming up this weekend. Let's get right to this--powered by Anibal Sanchez's no hitter, on to the injuries:

  • Mark Mulder will head under the knife, having a scoped repair of his rotator cuff and a general cleanout and cleanup of his pitching shoulder. Dr. David Altchek, the Mets team doctor and a well-regarded ortho, will perform the surgery later this week. The surgery will be comparable to what Matt Morris and Darryl Kile had a few years ago and, in a comparison Mulder won't like, very comparable to what Kerry Wood had about this time last year. Mulder isn't reliant on his power, so a comeback as a crafty lefthander is well within his ability. Ideally, he'd be available for spring training next season, though all three of the above comps had varying levels of difficulty coming back before Opening Day. He's a nice risk for some team if he's willing to sign an incentive-laden one year deal, much the way Morris did with the Cardinals.

  • One of my rules here is to ignore injuries where I have nothing to add or where they'll cause a guy to miss a game, maybe two. I realize some people are in their fantasy playoffs now, so I'd better get something in here about Travis Hafner. This is a very simple injury--he got hit on the hand by a ball. He's bruised and swollen, even after four days; once the swelling is gone and he can grip a bat, he'll be back in there. The medical staff is keeping him iced, which is really all you can do after being hit on the hand by a ball. Remember that there's no reason for the Indians to rush Hafner back, which will make an already slightly slow recovery longer if they feel it's necessary.

  • Sometimes, I just don't have a good explanation. How did the Reds miss the UCL tear on Eddie Guardado with previous tests? Why didn't they do the contrast tests before now? I don't have good answers here because frankly, I'm not sure there are good answers. Medical staffs do the best they can with what information and resources they have available. They work with a plan and sometimes, that plan doesn't work out. The MRI didn't show a tear earlier, but MRIs aren't perfect, just as doctors aren't perfect. The Reds continue to do what they can with what they have, lacking a shutdown closer. Guardado now faces Tommy John surgery if he chooses to continue his career. Given his shoulder problems, this could be the end of the line. If Guardado walks away, he won't have the TJ; for most of us, the UCL isn't critical to daily life.

  • It's hard to say that going deep into the playoffs has a downside, but there is something to the idea that the extra innings and shortened off-season can cause problems. The White Sox put a big load on their pitchers during last year's World Series run. Given that, it's little surprise that there's some fatigue issues with the staff. Mark Buehrle and Bobby Jenks are having problems that, for the most part, have to do with the junction of conditioning and fatigue. Buehrle had a precautionary MRI on his lower back, but there was no structural damage found and, surprisingly, Buehrle is still on track for his next start. Jenks' situation is a bit more serious. He's carrying a bit more weight than he should be, adding to the load on his knees and hips. Add in that violent, powerful pitching motion and it's no wonder he comes up sore now and again. As with Buehrle, Jenks had an MRI and it too showed no serious structural damage. In this case, it may not be quite as positive, since degenerative changes wouldn't be seen on most MRIs. The team knows this injury could cascade into an arm injury, so they'll be as careful with their closer as possible for as long as possible.

  • The Mets are very worried about Cliff Floyd. His chronic Achilles tendonitis has gotten to a point where even extended rest isn't fixing the problem. Floyd will likely have off-season surgery to clean it up, assuming he elects to continue his career. For now, it looks like he could be limited to pinch hit and spot start duty, though the team is committed to finding the best way to maximize his value. They have time and depth to deal with the problem creatively. The Mets got Carlos Beltran back in the second game of their Wednesday doubleheader and he showed no ill effects, though the knee wasn't tested. (By the way, all of you who questioned me about Oliver Perez should watch Wednesday's start. Wow.)

  • Quick Cuts: Mariano Rivera will test his elbow on Friday. If he feels ready, he could be back in the closer role over the weekend Francisco Liriano made it through his simulated game and heads to Scranton for a rehab start on Saturday Mike Maroth comes off the DL, but doesn't head back into the rotation just yet. Jim Leyland will use him out of the bullpen for now while they try to make sure his elbow is ready Dontrelle Willis left his last start early due to cramping. It's nothing serious and is likely a nice opportunity for the D-Train to hook up with Gatorade Tim Wakefield is expected to make a start sometime next week. He made it through an 80 pitch simulated game without problems Phillies pitcher Scott Mathieson was already pushed out of the rotation. Now he may be headed for Tommy John. He'll visit Lewis Yocum for a consult, but sources say he will need the surgery Everything seems to be going right for the Marlins, but now they have a tough break to face. Jeremy Hermida finally has an answer to why his ankle injury has lingered for much of the season: a stress fracture. He could be done for the season, but is definitely out at least two weeks.

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