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August 3, 2007

Under The Knife

Got History on My Mind

by Will Carroll

As we're still wait on some big-time history from Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Tom Glavine this week, there's no need for an intro-there's just so much to get into. Powered by the hope that this weekend feeds my baseball history jones, on to the injuries:

  • 88. That's all that anyone seems to care about, so that's the lead. Pedro Martinez threw between 85 and 88 during his 70-pitch simulated game on Thursday, with one pitch reportedly hitting 90. That puts the new Pedro just a couple ticks behind the Pedro that was one of the best pitchers of any era. Reports are that he came through the session itself without any problems; the question now is about his recovery time. Throughout his rehab, Martinez has had a problem getting to where he needs to be to maintain a normal schedule. His next step is a real rehab start, which will happen next Tuesday if the weather permits it. While it was previously destined for Port St. Lucie, the Mets have changed the location to "TBA" out of consideration for the weather.
  • The D'backs got the opening they were looking for, but not the way they wanted it. As reported exclusively in The Mill, Justin Upton had been told a few days ago to be ready for a callup, and he didn't have to wait long. When Carlos Quentin went to the DL with a strained hamstring, the opening on the roster went to the 19-year-old überprospect. Quentin is not expected to miss much beyond the minimum, but you'll forgive him if he's checking out Lou Gehrig bios at the library. The D'backs are also a bit concerned about Chad Tracy. Tracy had some Synvisc put in his knees, and has seen improvement, but since Synvisc is very nearly a last step, the team is worried that at the relatively young age of 27 Tracy is on a decline path that will have to be dealt with. Given that they have Mark Reynolds and Conor Jackson at the corners, I'd say that depth is really the least of their problems.
  • By Renyel Pinto's second pitch in Thursday's game, the announcers were noting that he was having a hard time getting loose. About five pitches later, Miguel Olivo walked out and physically took the ball from him, calling out the trainer. This comes on a day when Josh Johnson was told he was going to need Tommy John surgery, taking another year out of his pitching career. Unless Johnson turns out to be Tommy John or maybe Mariano Rivera, most Tommy John survivors don't have long careers. Sure, a lot longer than if the surgery wasn't available, but still, what might have been a ten-year career-well above the norm-has lost at least a tenth of its potential length. When people are wondering why three-fifths of last year's rotation is on the shelf and the other two-fifths is pitching well below expectations, people want someone to blame. Whether it's the medical staff, Joe Girardi, or Fredi Gonzalez, it's beginning to look like someone might deserve it.
  • If you're in a one-game-eligibility league, yesterday might have been your lucky day. When Edgar Renteria went down with a sprained ankle, Chipper Jones moved to his left to play some shortstop. Renteria's sprain was the result of a very awkward fielding play, where he bent backwards and sort of collapsed as his ankle rolled under him. After the game, Bobby Cox told the media that Renteria would miss a "few games" and that he'd also injured his back on the play. While Renteria has never been on the DL, his response times to any injury have always been quick-healing. He should be back early next week, with Yunel Escobar taking over shortstop in the meantime.
  • The Reds are giving some clues that Aaron Harang will be able to go on Saturday. While the official scheduled starter is "TBA," the Reds reduced their options when they sent Elizardo Ramirez down. (I love that name!) Sources tell me that Harang is "about 75 percent, maybe 80 percent" for Saturday; the team will have him shadowed, and Pete Mackanin will have a very quick hook if they see anything that looks even slightly out of whack. Harang has been stunningly good for a bad team, and keeping him healthy is more important than any single win right now.
  • While the Tigers get closer on a deal for Jack Wilson, they don't have as ready a replacement for Gary Sheffield in the lineup. Perhaps surprisingly, he doesn't have a strained mouth. Instead, Sheffield's shoulder is what's causing him problems, and clearly sapping his power. Some are speculating that he had a subluxation at some point, not unlike Hanley Ramirez, though it's unclear exactly when or how that happened. We'll know more after Sheffield is examined, but in the meantime it's unlikely that his power is going to spontaneously return, so your team, like the Tigers, is going to need to be creative to get production from that slot.
  • The Angels have been waiting on Juan Rivera in much the same way that the Nats have been waiting on Nick Johnson. Both are unlikely to be come back this season from their recoveries of their two very different leg fractures. Both have made some progress, but while fractures heal cleanly in most cases, but as we saw in the past with Jermaine Dye, the consequences of breaking a weight-bearing bone go well beyond the simple healing of the fracture. Rivera still has a small shot of a return in time to play, though he's quickly running out of time for a minor league rehab game opportunities.
  • The Rockies have been quietly hanging around in the NL West, seeing if the Padres, Dodgers, and D'backs beat each other up enough to sneak into the playoff picture. Those hopes took a shot when Rodrigo Lopez went to the DL with a flexor strain in his pitching arm. Lopez's injury is said to be severe enough that the team isn't sure if he'll be able to return this season, though they don't think there's a need for surgery at this time. Lopez will be replaced in the rotation by Jason Hirsh, who came off of the DL on Thursday to take the start.
  • The White Sox have to be wondering what god they offended, because the injuries just seem to never end. Jim Thome and Darin Erstad left Thursday's game, one that was greatly affected by heat. It's possible that their injuries had a lot to do with dehydration, making them prone to muscular problems. Erstad left the game with cramping in his legs, while Jim Thome left after his back tightened up. Erstad's injury looked much more serious, especially on the heels of his chronic hamstring problem. Both players will rest for at least Friday, but it looks like the Sox dodged a bullet for what remains of their season.
  • Quick Cuts: A scout called me today after Morgan Ensberg hit two homers and said "Told you so." He'd argued just days earlier that Ensberg was the second-best player available. He thinks Sean Berry might have some explaining to do. ... Derek Jeter will get a couple more days off down the line with Wilson Betemit available. That's to the good, because Jeter's more banged up now than in past seasons. ... Josh Hamilton is hitting again, but there's no timetable for his return. There's no question that his Rule 5 status is in play here. ... Brian Giles is expected back in the lineup this weekend after missing a game with a sprained ankle. ... A.J. Burnett is hoping to get back into the Blue Jays rotation next week rather than making another rehab start, but the Jays don't appear to be listening. ... Tell me that you've been checking out my SI column. Yes, that's where the Thursday football column (and Sunday pre-game update) will be this season.

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