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June 15, 2007

Under The Knife

Walk a Mile

by Will Carroll

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I spent yesterday at a chiropractor's office after waking up with a scorching pain in my lower back-L4/L5, if you'd like the details that I would give on a player. As I laid on a table getting more e-stim pumped into me than the nurse appeared comfortable with-"are you sure?"-I reflected on what some players go through to get out on the field. I'd hobbled to my car, laid on the table, been poked and prodded in hopes that a chiropractor would provide enough relief that I would avoid a surgeon. Like a lot of players, I was taking the Joe Crede route of trying everything before even considering surgery. Between the ice sessions that filled the rest of the day, I tried going in the backyard to throw my new Blitzball lightly. It hurt as I lifted my leg, it hurt as I tried to extend, and it hurt between pitches, but I was determined to see what it was like to try and pitch with the type of thing that Andy Pettitte and others have had. It's hardly the same thing, but it's unbelievably hard. Next time you see a player encased in ice, soaking in the whirlpool, or being rubbed down after a game, remember that the paycheck doesn't make it hurt any less.

Powered by The Arran, on to the injuries:

  • Adam Everett writhed around on the grass of Houston in pain after an outfield collision with Carlos Lee. (I guess that answers questions about how soft Carlos Lee looks.) What confuses people is that the obvious pain has little to do with the severity of an injury. Everett has a broken fibula, an injury with a known healing timetable and a solid track record of normal recoveries, especially since the bone does not bear much weight. Somehow though, the appearance of the injury made people look away from the facts. I didn't see any bone sticking out in the many video replays, nor did I see any special precautions being taken as he was carted off the field. Reaction to an injury tells us a lot, but an x-ray tells us even more. Everett should be back in the normal four to six weeks.
  • The answer is yes, it will take an injury for Yovani Gallardo to get called up. I'll let Kevin extol his virtues elsewhere, but I will say that beyond having to love a guy called "Yo," Gallardo is one heck of a pitcher with great stuff and solid mechanics. Unfortunately, the injury that brings Gallardo up is to Chris Capuano. The lefty strained his groin during warm-ups, and because of the presence of Gallardo, the team didn't waste any time in DL'ing him. Don't expect Gallardo to stick in the rotation once Capuano is back, which should be at the minimum. (And yes, thank you to all you readers who pointed out that Capuano was a "blue" rated player this preseason.) It will be interesting to see if Gallardo is shifted to the bullpen, something that was already being considered. Funny how one injury-to Francisco Liriano-is making people question a strategy that has worked well for decades, though I think that Gallardo could succeed in any role with his stuff.
  • It's almost as if Jim Andrews is trying to shake his reputation as the pitcher's equivalent of a death sentence. That's not the case-he's saved more careers than most-but because so many pitchers see him when they're damaged (rather than before, but that's a whole book that I need to write), he has that Death and Doom vibe for GMs and fantasy owners alike. Freddy Garcia was in Birmingham earlier this week, and came away without a scar. Garcia has an "abnormality" in his labrum and a frayed rotator cuff, but the first course of action will be rest and treatment, followed by a strengthening program. Expect this first phase to take at least six weeks, meaning that for all intents, Garcia's season is over. Assuming the best-case scenario, he could come back sometime in late August, but the performance record of players coming back from this is poor, so if you've been waiting to cut bait on him, you waited too long.
  • What looked like nothing is now something. According to reports, B.J. Upton's inconsequential quad strain now could have him out the rest of the month. Simply put, it's not healing. An MRI showed almost no change from nearly a week ago, and while the injury is still described as minor, the young second baseman won't be eligible to come off the DL until June 24. The Rays' depth and roster flexibility is being tested in the face of this injury and the unavailability of Elijah Dukes. Upton's slow healing is a source of concern in much the same way as Joe Mauer, but the difference is that Upton is a player who relies on speed. Whether a catcher's squatting or a speed guy's running is harder on a quadriceps is something I can't quantify, but watch to make sure that Upton is running easy once he does return before activating him. Upton's slow recovery is also something to note for the future.
  • Inside Barry Svrluga's piece on John Patterson, we learn that Patterson is clearly guarding his elbow. As you know, elbow injuries usually manifest themselves as control problems rather than lost velocity, but when a pitcher feels something in his elbow, he's likely to do one or more things to protect it. The smart one would be to stop throwing, but that's seldom the case. Sometimes, the pitcher drops his elbow, but that puts more pressure on the shoulder. At others, he'll "hold back," knowing that certain motions cause pain. The latter is what it sounds like Patterson is describing despite his assertion that he's pain-free. If so, then it's a mental block perhaps generated by the memory of the pain, which still causes the same types of physiological actions and worse, the same physiological reactions. I'd be very wary of putting Patterson back in my rotation quickly.
  • Gary Majewski is back pitching for the Reds, but the Reds have to hope that somehow, some way that the Commissioner's Office will reverse the trade that brought him to Cincinnati. (It's not going to happen.) Majewski may be throwing, but he's been patently awful, exhibiting every sign of someone still struggling with altered mechanics due to altered physiology. The Reds are just hoping that Majewski holds together long enough for them to have Eddie Guardado ready, not that Everyday Eddie's going to be what he used to be. Beyond Majewski, the Reds also got Bill Bray in the deal, and he's been pulled off his latest rehab assignment. If you want to see a bigger problem, check out Homer Bailey's control in his second outing. Even after being told he'd need to be more efficient, he wasn't.
  • Quick Cuts: Erratum-Justin Verlander went to Old Dominion, not Wake Forest. Somehow, I crossed up Verlander and Kyle Sleeth in my head. ... Vance Wilson will undergo Tommy John surgery. It's unusual but not unheard of for a catcher; he's done for the season. ... Kevin Kouzmanoff is day to day with a back strain. I know that feeling. ... Dmitri Young hasn't missed time to rest his Achilles because the Nats have been playing in AL parks, and he's drawn DH duties. He won't be able to do that for long, unless he's traded, so dial back your expectations on his playing time. ... What does Bud Selig think he'll accomplish with his Jason Giambi ultimatums? I don't know. ...Rich Harden is due to throw a simulated game in Arizona over the weekend. If that goes well, there are rumors that he could be back in the A's bullpen by the middle of next week. ... The A's are also hoping Mike Piazza can start a rehab assignment next week. He'll need to prove the shoulder injury won't sap his power stroke. ... A.J. Burnett will only miss one start with a shoulder strain. For now.

    Related Content:  Yovani Gallardo,  Back,  Quad-a

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