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July 18, 2007

Under The Knife

Novocaine

by Will Carroll

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No time for an intro today. I'm headed over to have a filling replaced, made more complex by the material that has to be used. It's all part of the glamorous life of an injury analyst. Yeah.

Powered by novocaine and John Coltrane, on to the injuries:

  • By the time you read this, we may know more details on the "impending announcement" from the Cardinals. One can only expect that this is in regards to Chris Carpenter. Carpenter saw Dr. George Paletta on Monday, and all signs seem to be negative. There are rumors that Paletta wasn't the first doctor Carpenter saw-as of deadline, that could not be confirmed. From the sound of every source I could reach, things sound bleak. Again, there are little or no hard facts that I could lay my hands on. On the heels of this winter's extension, any significant problem, whether ligamentous or arthritic, would be along the lines of the worst-case scenario. With this happening in the shadow of the trade deadline, the loss of Carpenter might free up some of the other veteran Cardinals as trade bait.
  • Ben Sheets had a detailed ultrasound test of the middle finger of his pitching hand, and the results came back as expected--there's a partial tear of the sheath surrounding the tendon in the finger. Sheets will be splinted for the next ten days to two weeks, and depending on how he heals, he could miss another two weeks on top of that before starting a two-week rehab program. Gord Ash pointed out to the press that Sheets has some experience with rehab, and actually has good healing tendencies. It's expected that the Brewers will be "cautiously aggressive" with the injury, making sure that Sheets is healed while also knowing that one or two starts could be the difference between beating the Cubs and missing the playoffs again. For those of you wanting to compare this injury to the ones suffered by Adam Eaton or Joel Zumaya, the difference is that this is the sheath, not the tendon, and there's no rupture. The injury probably takes Sheets out of contention for the Cy Young, potentially breaking a Brewers sweep of the major awards, as Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Ned Yost certainly have to be considered top contenders for their respective honors.
  • In one of the strangest calls I ever had to make, I found someone who attended the Barry Bonds All-Star party that was hosted by Jay-Z. There have been reports, including those by Bonds' favorite reporter, Pedro Gomez, that indicated that Bonds had been tired and sore since that party. One report indicated that Bonds was dancing; that's hard to believe given the sore knees and ankles that have held Bonds out and pushed him into a slump. The source, who was in attendance for a good portion of the party, says that Bonds was "occasionally" on the dance floor, but that "you could hardly call it dancing. Standing, bobbing his head and having fun with his friends. Most of the time he was sitting and talking to people. It was the first time I've seen him ... comfortable." Bonds continues to miss games while conspiracy theories fly about his disdain for Gomez, a desire to break the record at home, or even the phantom menace of an indictment. Simply put, Bonds has bad wheels and needs the rest.
  • The Orioles think that Miguel Tejada needs another week to ten days, but they're having a hard time holding him back. Cleared to taking some fielding practice, a source tells me that he pushed to be able to take soft toss. Instead, they compromised and let him hit from a tee. Each step is going to be a similar struggle. Tejada wants to get back out on the field, while the medical staff wants to make sure that he's fully healed. Since there's some dissonance between feeling good and being out of recurrence risk, Tejada's in a bit of a danger zone. While I don't expect this to go badly, it bears watching for even the slightest hint that Tejada's bat control has been compromised.
  • All spring long, there were hints that Brandon Backe was well ahead of schedule in returning from Tommy John surgery. With each hint has come some minor setback. Backe may have been scheduled to throw a simulated game on Tuesday, but the target is now next year for Backe. This isn't to say things couldn't change again, but the Astros need to make sure Backe is ready for next year at the same time that they decide whether Backe is in their plans at all, as he'll be arbitration-eligible this winter.
  • I don't often talk minor league injuries, but Ken Harvey was having something of a comeback season at Triple-A. However, instead of heading to Minnesota as many expected, he's headed for knee surgery. That's going to put even more pressure on Terry Ryan to make some sort of deal. Ryan's cried poverty forever, but his inability to fill the DH slot is becoming ridiculous. The Twins have gone better than half a season with the likes of Jeff Cirillo, Jason Tyner, and Mike Redmond in the slot. Even if Ryan's acquisitions have to be kept on the cheap side, there's plenty out there and not much time left for the Twins to make their move.
  • Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that Akinori Otsuka came through his bullpen session with no problems, then came into Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday with no residual soreness. He's ready to go back to working the eighth inning, or closing if Eric Gagne is moved before the deadline, although many still insist that Otsuka himself is the favored target. The forearm still holds some recurrence risk, especially since Otsuka hasn't been tested on back to back days or with a fatigued workload.
  • There's some extra bit of joy in the Motor City, as Joel Zumaya is playing catch. That's nice, but until he starts snapping off the powerful fastballs and spinning breaking balls up there, we won't have any real idea how the finger is. Yes, he says it feels good, but that's hardly an impartial or knowledgeable source. It's nothing more than a step along the way and while each step is a positive, playing catch is just that-it's something you or I could go in the backyard and do. Zumaya gets paid to do what none of us can do, even the many major league players that read this. Until he's dialing it up into the 90s, we need to remain a bit skeptical, if hopeful.
  • Quick Cuts: Mike Napoli is running and could be back as soon as next week. That's amazing, given how bad that injury looked just after the collision. ... Here's something to note--"Birmingham" has become shorthand for Dr. James Andrews or, to most pitchers, the place they want to avoid. Andrews has recently opened the state of the art Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, so "Pensacola" might be something you hear occasionally, though the bulk of Andrews' practice is still on the south side of Birmingham ... Esteban Loiaza-remember him?-is throwing from a mound, and could start a rehab assignment soon. Sources say the A's think they'll get him back in the first week of August, which seems aggressive ... Funny how guys like Mike Sweeney suddenly get determined to beat the doctors' time line when they're in a contract year. I guess that's part of the "high character" skill set. ... For those of you so inclined and that didn't hear it Monday on XM, I'll be providing football content this year to our friends at Rotowire. I'll have more news on where you can find my football coverage soon, but be sure to pick up a copy of Pro Football Prospectus 2007, out in stores next week.

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