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August 6, 2007

Under The Knife

Rantastic

by Will Carroll

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Joe Morgan has a whole web site devoted to his particular brand of genius, so I tend to just ignore him. (It's the button that says "mute.") However, when he decided to become a doctor tonight, he couldn't have been more wrong. You can't determine when a quad is healed because strength testing doesn't work? You'd rather have a quad than a hamstring? Quick quiz: which structure is more redundant? That the quad "lifts the leg?" (This was something that was repeated by Buck Martinez on XM.) The quad is an extensor muscle, Joe. The hip flexor and hamstring work to "lift" the leg in the gait. That Alfonso Soriano's lucky there wasn't a tear after Jon Miller read that Soriano had been initially diagnosed with a strain? That "it looks like his quad," when he was visibly grabbing the quad there in hi-def?

I literally screamed. After hearing Orel Hershiser's reasoned, even approach for a couple nights of the Barry Bonds coverage, it seemed even more intolerable. It's about time that the FJM boys, as well as Phil Mushnick, get some traction. Billy Beane didn't write Moneyball, and it's not Joe Morgan's birthright to call Sunday Night Baseball.

Powered by Twitter, on to the injuries:

  • Ranting aside, the injury to Alfonso Soriano is precisely the kind of thing that could tip a very close NL Central race, just as the Ben Sheets injury threatens to do for the Brewers. Soriano has a Grade II strain of his right quad, apparent from the second he stopped hopping and grabbed it. He grabbed it hard, right in the belly of the muscle, which tells you it was sore immediately, but wasn't so sore that he couldn't touch it, and that the damage wasn't at the ends or the muscle, where there's not as much fiber. A lot will depend on how significant the tear was-the Grade II designation was very broad, and is more of a guess than a firm diagnosis-and how he responds to treatment. At this stage the best guess is that he'll miss between two and four weeks, given what we know and his response to his strained left hamstring. It's important to note that the quad came on the opposite side as the hammy-what that means is that this isn't a strength deficit showing up as a strain, but is instead a discreet, traumatic event.
  • It didn't look like much at the time when Edgar Renteria simply rolled over his ankle, but we were looking too low. It appears that the stress went higher, and he's ended up on the DL with the dreaded high ankle sprain. Renteria figures to miss just more than the minimum with the injury, just another in a long series of problems that the Braves have had to overcome. With Chipper Jones banged up seemingly all season, losing Renteria in the middle of the race is going to hurt, but happily the Braves have Yunel Escobar available to take over. The team will also get Andruw Jones back this week after he had a cortisone shot and sat out the weekend to let it take effect.
  • The Padres are suddenly chasing the D'backs, and will need their ace, Chris Young, if they're going to run down his namesake and the rest of the Snakes. He has one more test to undergo, his normal side session, and that comes today in the bullpen. Assuming he sails through that without further problems in his healing oblique, Young will start Thursday's game. As with any oblique injury, there's a risk of recurrence that is at its greatest in the first few games back, but that will decrease quickly over the next few weeks, until the increased risk is just a faint blip. Young's commitment to conditioning is helping him recover quickly, and more importantly should help him stay healthy once he's back.
  • Derek Lowe is pitching through some pain. The hip condition that has still not been publicly identified is causing him some problems, but doesn't seem to be affecting his motion or his results. It seems to be a pain management problem, and the question is how long the medical staff can keep him comfortable enough to stay on the mound while not risking his arm. It's going to be a very delicate balancing act as they try to do this while staying in the race. Over the short term, this is a huge risk for Lowe and the Dodgers.
  • The Angels have been saying that Howie Kendrick could be back in the lineup in the next couple of weeks. That would be a heck of a fast return, given that he's not only not hitting, he still can't get his hand into a glove. The broken finger is healing nicely, just a bit more slowly than the team was hoping for. In addition, the normal concerns that we have about players returning from hand and wrist injuries apply even more to Kendrick, given that he hadn't yet shown that he was completely over the initial problem when he broke a different bone in the same hand. The Angels are a bit more positive on Mike Napoli, though; he's already hitting in the cage, and should come off the DL when eligible this weekend.
  • The Pirates got rained out on Sunday, giving Tom Gorzelanny an extra day before returning to the mound. Gorzelanny has been dealing with a sore shoulder over the past week, but says he's ready to go. The Pirates have been cautious in giving him the extra time, but it's what they haven't done that impresses one source. "They're staying out of his head. An MRI or anything is going to get in [Gorzelanny's] head and make him worry about what's going on in there and he'll pitch tight." Nevertheless, watch Gorzelanny's posture and movement on the mound. In his last outing, it was very clear that he was guarding the shoulder, even from how he was standing between pitches. I'm also going to be watching closely to make sure that Gorzelanny isn't dropping his elbow, something else he was doing at the end of his last session.
  • Scott Rolen missed Sunday's game after telling his manager that he simply couldn't go. Rolen seems to be deep in the spiral of continuing to lose effectiveness while getting less and less relief from quick fixes like cortisone injections. As with a pitcher, the fact that his shoulder is getting worse earlier in the season than last year is a definite concern, making some wonder if he'll need more surgery, or if he'll simply walk away from the game. Both outcomes are possible, though Rolen seems to be the type that will make every effort to stay while his team has any shot. Watch for Rolen to continue down this cycle, with his production dropping all the while.

    The Cardinals are also watching Albert Pujols closely to see how bad his elbow is. There were rumors this weekend that Pujols had finally snapped his UCL, an injury he's dealt with throughout his career. For a position player, this would only affect his throwing, and the original injury is one reason Pujols is now at first base. This isn't tremendously significant, though if Pujols does need Tommy John surgery, he could miss six months, so the timing of the surgery will be key. So far, the Cardinals don't seem to think it's gone quite that far, and with Pujols going 2-for-4 on Sunday, there's really no rush.

  • The Reds hope to make a decision on Ryan Freel in the next week. Freel has been playing through a sore knee, one with symptoms that correspond to a cartilage tear. Freel, always reluctant to show any weakness, admits that it's not getting better. Combined with some progress for Josh Hamilton and the Reds' status as a non-contender, Freel could be shut down at some point to make sure he's ready for next year, though he's likely to need some convincing. For a hustle player like Freel, it's hard to say if the injury will affect him significantly in the short term. He tends to steal bases in bunches, so it's also hard to say if his recent lack of steals is the result of the knee problem.
  • Noah Lowry was a pitcher with as much potential as Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain not too long ago, but as he left his last start with what's being called a "tight forearm," the signs don't look so good. Despite having 12 wins for a sub-.500 team, Lowry's control and K rate have been descending quickly, though his velocity has been normal. Those are among the signs of an elbow problem, though initial reports from the Giants indicate that they don't feel it's a ligament problem. After Lowry's early exit, the Giants were forced to use Barry Zito on his throw day, and he responded with a perfect 17-pitch inning. Lowry will attempt to throw on the side Tuesday, but don't be surprised if his start is pushed back, or if he's even pushed to the DL while the Giants attempt to make life easier for a strained bullpen.
  • Kerry Wood kept this simple: 95 fastball, 78 slider, 86 in the dirt, 95 fastball, 94 fastball, and a 95 fastball that Milledge took past short for a single. The result might not have been what many had hoped for, but even with the normal ESPN-flation of radar numbers, it's safe to say that Wood successfully returned to the mound at Wrigley Field. The slider was particularly nasty. Yes, he's significantly more slender despite actually putting on some weight to prepare for his comeback. Of course, throwing might be the easy part. Wood still needs to come back from each outing and prove that he can be a reliably available member of the bullpen. It's clear that Lou Piniella was looking for a low-leverage slot like a four-run deficit in the seventh to try Wood out. If nothing else, it's a nice beginning.

Quick Cuts: Randy Johnson had back surgery on Friday, and hopes to be ready to get back to work normally this offseason. ... I generally like the Dane Cook commercials, but I have no idea what "You're a fan! Watch like one!" means. ... Andrew Miller goes to the DL as much to limit his innings as he does to heal up his leg. It's a tough but smart decision by the Tigers. ... Paul Lo Duca is having trouble turning on balls. Remember that hamstring injuries often have a tight back component to them. ... When did Jason Kendall turn into fin de siecle Benito Santiago? ... Milton Bradley will avoid the DL despite his latest hamstring strain, but he's going to have to figure out some way to staunch this continuing muscular problem. ... Curt Schilling is back for the Red Sox, getting the start Monday night. He'll be on a "soft" pitch limit of around 90.

Related Content:  Back,  Tom Gorzelanny,  Hamstring,  Year Of The Injury,  Quad-a

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