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August 2, 2007

Under The Knife

Exhale

by Will Carroll

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With the trade deadline passed, I can get back to normal life--or as normal as things get around here. Tuesday started with a drive out to Terre Haute to watch the Colts practice. Training camp isn't exactly exciting, but watching football with Peter King is a lesson. I didn't get to stop and have a coffee with him, which is kind of how I always picture King, but we did catch a ballgame on Monday night, which is the next best thing. On a night when Barry Bonds, baseball's ultimate anti-hero, stood (again) on the brink of history, it's a good feeling to know that one of my heroes is not just a great writer but a great guy.

So that "terrible place" Joe Sheehan talked about during Tuesday's trade-deadline chat? It was football practice. The great thing was that I was never out of touch. Many of you probably refreshed The Mill and saw content sent from my phone. I drove back to Indy listening to Jeff Erickson on XM Radio. I ran out of battery power on my Bluetooth doing interviews and making calls to front offices that were far more frantic than I was. Thanks to everyone--especially John Perrotto and my editors, as well as sources and media members--who made this edition of the deadline a great one for me personally and professionally.

Now, in my best Casey Kasem, powered by sleep, sweet sleep, back to the injuries:

  • The Phillies made lots of little moves, enough to keep them in it, but they couldn't figure out how to keep their outfielders healthy. Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino injured themselves within minutes of each other in what might be the final straw for the Phillies' hopes. Victorino went down first with a Grade II calf strain. If you've noticed that he's a little more reckless this year, just look to center field where Aaron Rowand might have been selling his brand of baseball to the younger crowd. The speedy Victorino doesn't figure to be on the DL much longer than the minimum, but this injury is something that can recur.

    Bourn's injury might not sound as bad--a sprained ankle--but because of how he plays, this might be worse. Bourn is nearly a pure speed player and anything that reduces that speed--especially if there was any compromise in the ligaments--could be the start of a cascade. The Phillies will have to resist putting him out there at much less than 100%. The fact is, the most significant guy for the Phillies this year might be former trainer Jeff Cooper. I don't think they realized just how much they'd miss him.

  • The Red Sox are getting deeper and healthier. Kason Gabbard was available in trade in large part because the team knew that Curt Schilling was coming back. Schilling had his final test, another start at Triple-A Pawtucket, and came through fine. The team wanted him to go deep into a game to make sure his shoulder wouldn't give out again, and there seemed to be no problem, just as has been the case through this rehab. Saving some innings and getting Schilling on a maintenance program might be a big positive come October.

    The Red Sox are also positive about getting Mike Timlin back, though Eric Gagne gives them all the time they need to make sure Timlin is ready. The idea that Timlin might end up the sixth inning guy for the Sox tells you just how deep that pen is now.

  • It looks as if Philip Hughes is done with his rehab as well. Coming back from both a hamstring strain and a severe ankle sprain that he suffered earlier in his rehab, Hughes burned through the minor leagues and is scheduled to start for the Yankees on Saturday. He'll go against the Royals in his first major-league start since nearly throwing a no-hitter on May 1. He went 91 pitches in his last rehab outing, so he'll have no limitations on pitch counts besides the normal everyday ones. The Yankees' pen needs Hughes and the rest of the staff to go deep into games over the next week while it sorts itself out. Joba Chamberlain didn't throw in Scranton as expected, further confusing the issue of what's going on with the pen.
  • Pedro Martinez is just starting what Schilling and Hughes have been through, but Mother Nature stopped his first start. Instead of pitching in a Florida State League game, Martinez was scheduled to throw a simulated game against his teammates. That will come this morning and may make it tougher to get a read on where he is. One of the things that's not well known is Martinez's velocity; there would have been plenty of radar guns at his first game. He was scheduled to make two starts for Port St. Lucie, so he's still on track, assuming no setbacks. One note--an observer who saw a recent workout raised some concerns about Martinez's conditioning. "He looked a little soft," he said.
  • Buddy Carlyle isn't a name you'd think might affect a pennant race, but the one thing John Schuerholz wasn't able to get this week was a starter. The itinerant righty hyperextended his elbow and left the game. Afterwards, he said this is an injury he gets periodically and it seldom causes him to miss more than a start. I can't find any info on previous injuries, and if it happened in the minors, it's under my radar. We'll have to look for him to throw on the side in the next couple days before his scheduled Tuesday start. The likely fill-in if he's unavailable would be no one--it'd probably force a bullpen game.
  • Randy Wolf was diagnosed with capsulitis, a term not heard very often, but likely to be a common condition among pitchers. The capsule of the shoulder is what holds everything in place, what doctors call a "static stabilizer." The inflammation causes it to not stabilize quite as well, causing pain and tightness. There are some orthopaedists who theorize that the capsule protects the labrum, an associated stabilizing structure, and that catching things at the capsule stage would protect the labrum from fraying and tearing. Wolf is out at least a month, perhaps the rest of the season depending on how quickly he can rehab without flaring up the shoulder again. In the longer term, he should be able to return without much problem.
  • Carlos Guillen is having some recurrence of his chronic knee problems. The Tigers don't have a lot of wiggle room in their battle with the Indians, and they also don't have the flexibility they had on the roster last season. Guillen could get some playing time at first base, pushing Sean Casey to the bench, and they could continue to pursue Jack Wilson as a backup at short. It's a pretty massive dropoff from Guillen (.250 MLVr) to Wilson (-.120 MLVr), but not so much if Wilson is essentially replacing Casey (.004 MLVr.) The bigger concern is making sure that Guillen's chronic knee problems are kept to the bare minimum and that surgery, if needed can be held off until the offseason.
  • Chris Reitsma is headed back in for more surgery on his pitching elbow. The arthritic condition that keeps recurring hasn't yet ended his career, but it's getting close. There's been some suggestion that Reitsma is considering a more radical microfracture procedure like his teammate Mark Lowe had. With Lowe taking over Reitsma's setup role and hitting the mid-90s, the new-to-baseball procedure might have a bit more traction here, though there's no clue about long-term effects.

Quick Cuts: Carlos Beltran was placed on the DL with an abdominal strain. How long he's out will depend on his response to treatment. ... Dear Ken Rosenthal: Leave some for the rest of us! Your fan, Will ... Jason Giambi could be back with the Yankees as soon as next week. Look for him to get some action in the upper minors, probably Triple-A Scranton ... Brian Giles has a mildly sprained ankle and will miss a couple games, but shouldn't hit the DL ... Derek Lowe will make his scheduled Saturday start after having no problems with his hip during a bullpen session ... Kerry Wood will return to the Cubs on Friday. Look for him to work the middle innings, but Lou Piniella is excited at the idea of having a power reliever. Don't be surprised to see him go with a multiple-closer setup ... The fact that Matt Morris' contract looks very equivalent to Jack Wilson's is, I think, the most important part of understanding yesterday's trade. One other thing--Morris' contract is not insured ... The Cards should set a date for Mark Mulder to make his first rehab start. It will have to be no later than early next week to get him back in the Cards' rotation in August.

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