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May 6, 2007

Under The Knife

Other Shoes Drop

by Will Carroll

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Did it surprise you that the Blue Jays lied about B.J. Ryan? It didn't surprise me a bit. Okay, a little bit, but the part that was surprising is that they admitted that they had. J.P. Ricciardi let the cat out of the bag, although whether out of guilt or glee, I couldn't tell you. Again, like the Cubs, I'm not sure what they got out of it-were they trying to make a deal at that point, and wanted to do it from strength? I could understand that, but don't know of any deals they were trying to make, a la the Mets at the trade deadline last year. Gaining time seems a high price to pay for the lack of credibility that the Jays will have to face in the future. The relationship between the GM and the writers who were duped (including me, though I'm not on Ricciardi's Christmas card list anyway) can be healed, but Jays fans, at least the ones who emailed me, seem to be a bit angrier. That's a tougher relationship to build, and one that's far more important for a general manager trying to show the club's making progress on his watch. The fact is, people in the industry lie, or in more cases, they just try to misdirect us, although without much malice. I won't fault it much more when it happens next time-and it will. I'll just ask whoever it is to figure out what it is you gain while you're losing your fans' trust.

Powered by a phenomenal event in Tampa Bay, for which I must thank everyone with the Rays organization, on to the injuries:

  • There just hasn't been much good news for the Cardinals lately. It's really not surprising that Chris Carpenter will need surgery to clean up his elbow, but coming on the heels of what seemed like a couple of positive days' work in rehab, it seemed to hit harder. Up to a point, Carpenter's elbow is fine, but once it gets near the level he has to go at every five days, it swells up and risks further damage. The Cards tried to get him through this without surgery, something they had to try given their need of him this season, but now he'll have what is very simple surgery to remove the bone spurs, check for associated damage, and get him on the road back to the mound. Yes, you read that right-bone spurs, not chips. This news was part of the announcement from Dr. George Paletta, and it tells us that the spurs must be in the olecranon. This doesn't change the prognosis for Carpenter, but by shaving down the bone, the surgery should prevent a recurrence from happening for at least the years that Carpenter has left on his current deal. Since recurrence is always a risk, this is a small positive. Carpenter should have no trouble returning on what seems a conservative timeline put out by the Cards, though his actual return is likely to be informed by the Cardinals' chances.
  • In one of the odder injuries I've ever heard of, Joel Zumaya dislocated the middle finger on his right (throwing) hand while warming up. He felt something pop while throwing a curve, according to broadcast reports, then really felt it again when he threw a fastball. I have no idea how he did this, but given the force that Zumaya generates when pitching, I guess anything is possible. Every pitch comes off the middle finger, so this is a potentially tough injury for him to come back from. Assuming it was a simple dislocation, Zumaya should be able to come back in 15 days, but if there's any ligament, tendon, or soft tissue damage, it could be a bit longer and make his velocity and control a big question mark. The biggest issue for the Tigers is answering how this happened and making sure, if they can, that Zumaya doesn't do it again. Remember, a dislocation brings an increased risk of same-joint recurrence.
  • The Phillies bullpen is a mess right now, and worse yet due to injuries. The team knew that Tom Gordon wasn't going to hold up, though it is surprising that it was his shoulder and not his chronically damaged elbow this time. When they moved Brett Myers into the pen, that should have been enough indication for fantasy owners to make a move. The Phillies didn't expect Ryan Madson, their primary setup guy, to go down at the same time. Madson strained his oblique and is out for the normal month it takes to recover, putting the Phillies at a real disadvantage at a time when they're still unsure when Gordon will be available to them again.
  • Philip Hughes finally had the MRI on his hamstring, and the news was what was expected-he'll miss better than a month with a grade II strain. I'm saying a month because this injury seems a lot like Chien-ming Wang's in a lot of ways. Hughes hasn't had a problem like this since high school, according to one source, but I reminded him that high school wasn't that long ago for Hughes. Despite it being a pitching-related injury, when Wang's happened running, I don't think there's much risk of recurrence. Hughes injured himself "reaching back" for a little something extra, or rather "extended himself" forward, more than his muscle could take. He's not likely to make that same mistake twice.
  • Lots of emails from people asking why Johan Santana was pulled after just five innings of work. Evidently, he was on a strict pitch count of 100 and was pulled at 98. Now, the real question is why he's on such a count? Is there something more here? A source tells me no, that Santana is simply being monitored for usage and that the first inning, one that took him 30 pitches, was actually more of a matter of concern to the Twins. "That's a number where the team will usually pull a guy early. There's a lot to in-game fatigue." Good point, source. The Twins were evidently very concerned about the Red Sox game plan against Santana, one that focused on patience and fouling off pitches and seemed to work well. Getting past Santana into the pen is generally a smart strategy, and the Sox have the hitters to do it against anyone. I'm not worried about Santana until there's more indication that this is more than a precaution.
  • The Twins are banged up across the board. While Michael Cuddyer has missed time with a bruised back suffered when he fell on the surprisingly slippery turf in Tampa Bay, the news is getting even more troubling for Joe Mauer. Mauer will have an MRI to see exactly what's going on with his left leg; the pain is in his upper leg now, rather than the lower part where he had the stress reaction. Is there a connection here? Is this a squatting cascade? It's possible, but I couldn't tell you how or even if he's altered anything in his catching routine that would cause such a problem. Even if they aren't connected, we can safely treat this as another injury that catching either caused or exacerbated. The more Mauer is behind the plate, the more the Twins are risking being without one of the best, most valuable young commodities in the game.

Quick Cuts: The pitcher we saw last Thursday in Tampa Bay was James Shields. I'm not sure what's different, but he's developed very well and I don't think his early season performance is a fluke. One person I spoke to suggested that new pitching coach Jim Hickey has been the difference. ... Preston Wilson had his knee drained this weekend, and the Cardinals elected to give him a couple weeks to rest it. ... Marlon Anderson heads to the DL with a sore elbow, giving Andy LaRoche a chance to seize the job at the hot corner in LA. ... Eric Gagne will be activated on Tuesday, but might not head right back into the closer's role. Even if he's given the title, watch how he's used closely. ... We'll be starting up work on another "Mechanics of Baseball" piece at MLB.com soon. I'll answer all your Tim Lincecum questions there.

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