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June 18, 2007

Under The Knife

Pray for the Minimum

by Will Carroll

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No time for an introduction, but a quick reminder that today is the last day to buy tickets for the BP Event in D.C. It's very close to capacity already, and I hope to see many of you there. I'll also be at Jamey Newberg's event in Arlington in a couple weeks, and tickets are going fast for that--check Jamey's website for details.

Now, powered by Mike Ferrin's move to XM (Chicago will miss you), on to the injuries:

  • Carlos Beltran finally admitted that his quadriceps was hurting, but that's somehow a positive. First, most had long thought (but could not prove) that he'd been dealing with a knee problem. This is better. Unlike Jose Valentin, Beltran couldn't be as effective running around in center with a bulky brace. It also tells us that the Mets medical staff has been able to keep him on the field and effective despite the injury. He hasn't been able to take any time off due to all the injuries surrounding him, so as the Mets get the rest of the team back, Beltran can get some days off here and there in order to heal up in time for the stretch run. Quad injuries are always a matter of concern, but looking at the game logs, it's been a slow cross-skill decline rather than one major problem for Beltran, indicating that he's coasting a bit in order to stay on the field.
  • It's one of the rules that we've learned in the six years I've been doing this--players out of position have an increased risk of injury, especially in the early stages of a position change. James Loney was added to the list of cautionary tales when he banged his knee on the wall chasing a fly ball. The action was very reminiscent of the Matt Kemp collision from earlier this season, and it could have been much worse. It appears that Loney was able to catch himself, but that the lack of padding is what caused the injury. Despite being carted off the field, reports are that the knee is only bruised and that he'll miss "a couple days." Loney's lucky if this is the case, but this should serve as a reminder that padding is something simple any team can do to help reduce injuries.
  • Kenny Rogers is scheduled to throw a normal bullpen session on Monday, and if as anticipated he makes it through that without a problem, he would slot back into the rotation on Friday. While Rogers is expected to be back to normal with only some minor stamina questions, it is notable that he'll be slotting back into the rotation in place of Andrew Miller; given Jim Leyland's statements that Miller won't go to the bullpen, it looks as if Miller will head back to the minors to continue working. Post-surgery, pitchers with problems similar to Rogers' have had relatively minor adjustment periods, and given his rehab results, I'd get Rogers back in your fantasy rotation.
  • Jason Schmidt said "something's still not right" with his shoulder. Not breaking news there, and Stan Conte's going to get to really earn his money. An adjustment to his between-start regimen gave him back some velocity, but not much. His best fastball was at 88 if you go with the scouts watching the game, or 87 if you go by MLB's Gameday. Either way, the improvement wasn't enough to make him effective; the Dodgers believe that Schmidt has to at least touch 90 to get by, though I'm a bit confused by that logic. I think that absent any adjustment, Schmidt does need that velocity, and it's very tough to change style and substance of pitching in-season, especially alongside dealing with injuries. The team has pitching depth, but as of now, Schmidt is still listed as making his next start. We'll see.
  • Jason Jennings just doesn't seem to like pitching in Houston. Since coming over in a trade, Jennings has been either ineffective or injured. Once again, it's the latter. The Astros gave up top pitching prospect Jason Hirsh for Jennings, and Hirsh is in the Rockies' rotation and outperforming Jennings. The team is insisting that his ineffective performance and limited stamina are the result of the previous shoulder injury. Since it happened in his fourth start since coming off the DL, and after two longer outings, that excuse is a bit less solid. Jennings is still on schedule for his next start. As with Schmidt, it appears to be recovery that's the problem. Be very careful here--his next start will tell us whether this last short outing was the fluke or a trend.
  • Torii Hunter really dodged a bullet. He was just the latest player to take a ball off his hand, but x-rays came back negative, and the Twins are saying that Hunter should miss the minimum amount of time. That minimum is usually two or three games, depending on the swelling and the depth of the bruising. According to sources, Hunter was in pain, but didn't seem to have any unusual swelling and could be seen flexing his hand, a good sign. Expect him to lose a bit of power and bat control in the extreme short term. The same thing happened with Brandon Phillips, and yes, it looks like this is happening more and more often. I'm not really sure why, but it brings me back to a particular type of glove and wondering why players aren't wearing it, or something similar.
  • The Brewers should get Rickie Weeks back early this week, despite their ultra-conservative approach to his return from continued, chronic wrist problems. Weeks is reportedly doing well, but the real test is going to not only be whether his wrists are pain-free and able to control the bat, but whether he can make it more than a month without a repeat of symptoms. I've been looking for comps for this type of injury, but here's one where sports medicine makes it tough. Even just a decade ago, this type of injury was probably a career-ender, so players that would be comps aren't. It's another reminder that the doctors, trainers, and therapists that most fans don't notice are making the game better in some very tangible ways.
  • The A's are dealing with a load of injuries, but things are actually getting better. Eric Chavez avoided the dreaded oblique injury, though a strained intracostal muscle is no picnic either. There's no solid timeframe on his return, though the DL doesn't look to be a possibility at this stage. The return of Mike Piazza was also delayed, but not due to the shoulder injury. Instead, the team is going to give him more time to build up arm strength in order to use him at catcher. Sources tell me that the team thinks this will add a week to his rehab, meaning he's still on track to come back before the All-Star break. Finally, Justin Duchscherer is throwing. This is a positive step, though he's still a ways off from a return. Sources tell me that he's likely headed for surgery on his hip at some point, but that he and the team hope it can be in the off-season.
  • Garret Anderson is back on the DL with a recurrence of the hip flexor strain that had him on the list recently. Anderson never looked fully comfortable in the field or on the basepaths, with one source saying "he's uncommunicative and moody. [Reggie Willits]'s taking his job, and he's seeing the age turn over quickly in Anaheim, so this isn't going to help." Don't be surprised to see Anderson miss a very similar amount of time to his last stint, especially if Willits continues to outproduce him.
  • Quick Cuts: Russell Martin missed Sunday's game after waking up with a stiff neck. I know how that feels--and for all who asked, my back is much better, thank you. ... Adrian Beltre had a cortisone shot in his injured thumb and will miss a couple days. ... No surprise here, but A.J. Burnett will head to the DL this week. It's a retro move, and the Jays are insisting he won't miss more than the minimum. ... Phil Rogers has more, but sources are telling me that the Reds want to deal Adam Dunn "this month. Way before the All-Star break." ... Brett Myers will throw at "full go" in a side session Monday. I hope to have more on him, his session, and his recovery in my next column. ... Paul Lo Duca left Sunday's game after being hit on the elbow by a pitch. It's his non-throwing elbow, so he's not expected to miss much time, if any. ... Neil Gaiman directing? Oh, I'm in for that. ... Chris Duffy seems to be avoiding the DL, but watch out for the hamstring problem that cropped up; Duffy loses all value if he has a significant leg problem.

    Related Content:  Back,  Jason Jennings,  Quad-a

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