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August 9, 2007

Under The Knife

Moving On

by Will Carroll

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In the last couple days, much has been written about Barry Bonds. Now that the home run chase is over and he's only distancing himself from whoever is next, I think he'll start to fade from the headlines. Several of you emailed to say that you were tired of hearing about Bonds, that we needed to move on and get back to baseball. You know, I agree.

The problem is that the Mitchell Commission is doing the opposite. They're talking about the past. You'd assume that they won't be investigating the time after testing came into the game, but who knows, HGH is probably a big part of what they're looking at. So once again, in the near future you'll be hearing about Bonds and the past, and about things we can't change. The millions going to baseball's lawyers could be going to educational programs or inner-city baseball restoration. I'm as tired of the steroid talk as you are, so for now, you won't hear me on this. Soon, you will. I'm teaming up with PAYSA - an organization of Pharmacists Against Youth Steroid Abuse. I'm putting my money, time and effort into fixing the problem. Can you say the same?

Powered by hope, on to the injuries:

  • If you look at the line, you'd think the worst. Pedro Martinez got lit up over his sixty-five pitches, even giving up two homers. This isn't Barry Bonds or Ryan Howard, these are kids in the FSL that you've likely never heard of and will never hear about again. [Ed. note: Justin Justice and Deik Scram, and yes, we'd never heard of them either.] So why isn't Martinez worried? The rehab start is designed to do a couple things, like allowing him some work to build his stamina while also putting him in a situation where he can work on things before getting into a game that counts. Martinez got to his pitch limit without a significant problem, showing good velocity and solid command. If what he said after the game is true--that he gave up most of his hits because his sinker wasn't working and he left too many pitches up--that's much more easily correctable than an injured shoulder. One report said that it didn't appear that his pitches had much movement, so this is definitely going to be key for him in his next outing. Until then, the biggest thing to watch for from Martinez is how he handles things between starts. Will he be able to make it out in five days? The Mets are watching, waiting, and hoping.
  • Tough or stupid? I almost want to get some good Chuck Norris quotes to tell you how tough Jason Hirsh is after finding out that he pitched most of his last start with a broken fibula. The thing is, doctors are telling me the same thing that Hirsh said himself--the injury isn't that painful. I'm not minimizing its significance here--a broken leg is a broken leg--but it also wasn't like the bone was sticking out or that it was even as painful as a dislocated finger. Hirsh is likely done for the season, but shouldn't have problems with this in the future once the leg heals. It is another point in my argument that pitchers need some sort of leg protection.
  • While the Brewers were all getting beaten up in Colorado, Tony Graffanino was the one taking the hardest shot. He left yesterday's game with what is being called a sprained knee after a spectacular catch ended with an awkward landing. While the details are still unclear, the fact that the Brewers are sending him back to Milwaukee for MRIs and a consultation with Dr. Bill Raasch speaks pretty clearly that it isn't minor. It's likely that Graffanino will head to the DL, especially if testing reveals even a small ligament injury. He would likely be replaced by Rickie Weeks, who has hit well in Triple-A. The Brewers would be better off with a healthy Graffanino and a Weeks that hit somewhere nearer his potential, but they may have to spend the next couple weeks trying to figure out if they'll have either of those.
  • Chase Utley is still a ways off. The Phillies star second baseman is making progress, but the window of his return is still somewhere during the start of September rather than the end of August. It seems a subtle difference, but clearly the Phillies need Utley back to stay in contention. Moreover, they need a healthy Utley, since one that lacks power and bat control wouldn't be much better than Tadahito Iguchi, even when you know that Iguchi won't keep up his current 958 OPS pace. That makes the move to send Utley to a second hand specialist a bit suspicious. Is it Utley or the Phillies that are looking for more of a push to get him back? The sheer number of injuries that the Phillies have had raise a lot of questions for me about how this particular injury is being handled, but I'll take it on faith that the team and player will try to do what's best.
  • The Reds and Ryan Freel decided that there was no reason to wait on knee surgery. Freel had the procedure, and will miss the rest of the 2007 season, but should be back with no problem by spring training. There's some concern that he won't be quite as quick, but Freel has never had a serious knee problem before, so I believe he'll come back as essentially the same player. Still, players of this type tend not to age well; this injury could be the first sign of Freel's entering his decline phase.
  • Todd Helton has had a pretty solid season in terms of both his health and his production. The Rockies first baseman left yesterday's mugging of the Brewers with back spasms, but said after the game that it was more a soreness issue than a pain issue. He's expected to return to the lineup on Thursday, though the Rockies may elect to try and rest him a little. It barely qualifies as the lone down note from the Rockies' explosion on Wednesday, which was just one more step in their quietly contending in the NL West.
  • You might be forgiven if you didn't know who Brian Buscher even was. The Twins third baseman has been with the team only a couple days, and now is being pushed to the DL with an infected leg. Buscher is just the latest in an increasing number of players across baseball and other sports dealing with infections. Buscher's was bad enough that it needed to be drained, and he could be hospitalized to help get the situation under control. As we've seen this season with Chris Duncan and last season with Alex Rios, it takes a while to come back from this, though it usually doesn't end up a long-term problem.
  • Quick Cuts: If you have some thoughts and prayers, my mom could use them today. ... I hope Edwin Bellorin doesn't end up as the injury version of Moonlight Graham. Just called up by the Rockies, in his first at-bat Bellorin strained a hamstring while grounding into a DP. He's on the DL, but at 25, would seem to have plenty of time to get at least one more AB. ... Alex Rodriguez was listed as questionable as much for his own protection as for the bruise on his leg from his being plunked. ... Juan Rivera is expected to start a rehab assignment next week, making it possible that he will return to the Angels during this season. ... The Cubs' Angel Pagan heads to the DL with colitis. Once it's controlled, he should be fine to return. ... Bud Selig's once again come off badly, missing 756 to attend a hastily-scheduled meeting with George Mitchell. He wasn't missed.

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