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June 12, 2007

Under The Knife

Losing My Sunday Thing

by Will Carroll

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Someday, when I make my exit from doing this, I hope my column will just go black at the end, or like Tony told Bobby that I won't hear it when it comes. I've been thinking a lot about The Sopranos, the detail-filled ending, and losing shows either gone too long (like The Sopranos) or not long enough (like Veronica Mars) and how to make graceful exits from things. Would you rather go quietly, thanking people as you leave, or do you grab the goldfish? Do you make a Butch Cassidy exit, drive off like Thelma & Louise, or stand up like Tony Montana and his little friend?

Then again, I think I'd rather just keep doing this, right here. Powered by aspirin and Red Bull, on to the injuries:

  • It sounds like the reports were spot-on as far as which way Joe Crede was leaning. In considering all his options, he ended up choosing the most likely one-surgery. He'll waste no time in having it, getting the procedure done by top back doc Robert Watkins in LA on Tuesday. The procedure is expected to be a microdiscectomy, but as with most procedures, Watkins will wait until he sees exactly what's going on before deciding what procedure is best. If it goes as expected, Crede could be back in around two months, though that is an aggressive timetable, and would also have him coming back at an odd point in the season for the Sox. Based on similar procedures (such as the one performed recently on Mark Kotsay), Crede should have little or no problem in the future, making him an attractive target for many teams, especially should the White Sox decide to non-tender him.
  • The third baseman on the North Side of Chicago is having troubles as well, as Aramis Ramirez's problematic knee finally forced him to the DL. Reports from ESPN 1000's Bruce Levine appear to confirm that there is not only the tendonitis in the knee, but also a small meniscus tear. I was not able to independently confirm this tear from sources, but Levine does great work up there, so I trust his reporting. As I said last week, the tear wouldn't be that significant a problem. In fact, this situation is very similar to the one that got Boston in an uproar about this time last season with Manny Ramirez. I'm still convinced that Ramirez had (or actually has) a small tear, but it was the tendonitis that got most of the blame. Assuming that Aramis Ramirez responds to the rest and treatment, he shouldn't miss more than the minimum. Even the worst-case scenario is very manageable, with a quick 'scope that would cost him a month. The Cubs also received good news on Henry Blanco-he'll be back this season because he won't need surgery on his neck.
  • As a reminder, the rule is that if I don't have anything to add to a story, I'll ignore it. The fact is that there are times where a story is so well-covered that there's no need for a niche guy like me to come in and give coverage, and there are other times where I simply can't get to a source with the correct, confirmable info. In the recent case of Freddy Garcia, the Phillies quickly closed ranks around the injured pitcher. It wasn't that I couldn't get the right info, it was that I couldn't get any info. Even the beat reports have been quiet about specifics, and that's a very strong group of writers. Since Friday, there's been almost nothing factual that's added to our knowledge of the situation. We know that he's on the DL, we know that he was scheduled for an MRI, and we know that his agent, Peter Greenberg, is suggesting that there will be a second opinion due to Garcia's impending free agency. Beyond that, it's all speculation. The Phillies have said that Brett Myers (currently long-tossing as he makes his way back) will not be pushed back into the rotation due to Garcia's injury. The wording here seems a bit odd; I'm not sure if they mean this won't force a move, or if Myers will never be back in the rotation, but either way, it's telling. If Myers' problem is stamina, that points to the shoulder strain being rotator cuff-related. All in all, it's a confusing time for a team that just a few months ago had "too many pitchers." Four-man rotation anyone? (UPDATE: Late word on Chief Garcia is that the MRI showed fraying of the cuff and a damaged labrum. Yeah, that's not good.)
  • Remember where you were when the Reds signed Eric Milton? I'm pretty sure a lot of people had the same reaction I did. Milton's Reds career is essentially over now with the announcement that he'd undergo Tommy John surgery. It appears the slot Homer Bailey is sitting in could well be permanent, and that the biggest mistake of the previous administration will never pay off. Don't get me wrong here; there is much more blame to be placed on the previous ownership than the front office for this move, a story that deserves a telling someday. As for Milton, he should recover, and being left-handed, should get picked up somewhere in hopes that he could return sometime in the second half of 08, a la Randy Wolf last season.
  • I'm fascinated with the concept of baseball genetics. There are so many brother combos and even father-son combos that it's interesting to see the nature versus nurture arguments unfold. For every Jose Canseco, there's an Ozzie Canseco. For every Jason Giambi, there's a Jeremy Giambi. For every Barry Bonds, there's a Bobby Bonds Jr. For every Tony Gwynn, there's a Chris Gwynn. This works with injuries-J.D. Drew and Tim Drew both have struggled with injuries, but I'm not sure if it tells us anything about Stephen Drew. Jeff Weaver left his last start with a back problem and now, Jered Weaver is having similar problems. They have different causes, but the relationship makes the relativity notable. Beyond that, it's trivia; Jeff Weaver's back is the least of his troubles, and he should be back on the mound soon.
  • It shouldn't surprise anyone that Chris Duncan is having trouble hitting. While his knee infection didn't turn out to be as bad as it could have been, it's still an infection in his knee, and he needs both of them. It's safe to assume that he should get over the infection more quickly than Alex Rios did, although it's still comparable to Rios' situation from last season. As with Rios, I expect that Duncan will slowly get better, but that it's a steady slope rather than a quick improvement. The problem is that it's going to be power-Duncan's biggest skill-that will come last, and his range afield-already perhaps his smallest-that will show the effects most. The Cards have also lost Preston Wilson for the season. It appears he's headed to Vail, Colorado, to have his knee rebuilt by Dr. Richard Steadman. While it's not confirmed, Steadman is best known for developing the microfracture technique and when athletes visit him, that's the most likely reason for their heading up into the mountains.
  • The Tigers are waiting to see how Monday's rest and treatment help Carlos Guillen deal with what has been variously described as a hamstring spasm and a high hamstring strain. The placement of the possible strain can be a particularly dangerous-as a muscle moves towards its ends, it is often less strong, tapering into the tendon that attaches to bone. This isn't to say that it's weak, just that there's less muscle fiber in that area, so a tear there is more significant. Guillen is both prone to these types of problems, and quick to heal when he has them, so it's a mixed bag.
  • Next time someone suggests that the Japanese system that gave us Daisuke Matsuzaka should be tried here, mention Shinji Mori. Mori, you may remember, was the five-time Japanese All-Star that came over to the Rays and promptly blew out his shoulder. Mori had left Japan because he was 'over the hill', like most Japanese hurlers in their early 30's. Mori was finally released after a Rays career memorable only for its lack of memories. We shouldn't be guilty of remembering the exceptions like Matsuzaka or Nomo any more than we should base a pitcher development system on hoping that everyone is Bob Feller or Bob Gibson. There's a lot more Paul Maholms out there than there are Matsuzakas, and worse, there's a lot more Sean Burnetts.
  • Quick Cuts: Rocco Baldelli is playing in extended spring training. ... Freddy Lewis heads to the DL with an oblique strain; he'll miss more than a month. ... Someone get a live rooster to the bullpen mound in Cincinnati. It just seems cursed there, even after people leave. Whether it's Bill Bray, the forgotten part of last year's trade fiasco, coming back to Cincy after a problem with his rehab, or whether it's Chris Reitsma hitting the DL even though he's two teams removed from his Reds days, I am really beginning to believe in curses. Reitsma lasted only a week back from the DL with problems in his pitching elbow. ... Eliezer Alfonzo will avoid surgery after his collision at the plate, but will still miss at least a month. ... Moises Alou is making no progress, as his injured quad is simply not healing; he'll be out indefinitely. On the plus side for the Mets, they did activate Shawn Green as expected.

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