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September 11, 2007

Under The Knife

Healing

by Will Carroll

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No intro today. Just a memory of six years ago and a reminder that in those six years, baseball has been a big part of the healing for a lot of people. If the way to beat terrorism is not to change, I'm happy to be a baseball fan today. Powered by our troops, on to the injuries:

  • The Braves' playoff hopes--down to less than two percent according to yesterday's Playoff Odds Report--aren't helped by losing the Joneses to injury. Andruw Jones missed Monday's game with an illness, but Chipper Jones has a more serious issue. He was scratched from the lineup after straining an oblique during batting practice. Sources downplayed the seriousness, but if Jones misses any time, that percentage is going to dwindle down to zero quickly. Chipper Jones' season has been remarkably productive, as he's put up a .336 EqA despite a plethora of physical ailments. He's sure to be a red light in the preseason health reports next season, and I'll agree with PECOTA here--I think he has one, maybe two more seasons of solid production before the injuries derail him. Larry Walker's career path is probably a really good comp, since Jones is likely to be a part-time contributor if he's willing to accept that role.
  • Carlos Delgado is going to have to revisit his definition of "not too bad." That was his description of his hip flexor strain initially, something that the Mets now say will keep him out for the next ten days. As normal at this time of year, he won't go on the DL, but he likely would have had we been in any other month of the season. This isn't a long-term problem, and there's plenty of time for Delgado to heal and then get in some swings in the last week of the season to be ready for October, but the injury does add another element of uncertainty to the Mets October plans. While the team is arguably the strongest in the NL heading into the playoffs, injuries and frailty offer enough problems that it's possible the way they construct their postseason roster will be even more important than usual.
  • Do you want the good news or bad news, Tigers fans? I'll give you the good first--Jeremy Bonderman had the MRI on his pitching elbow, and it came back with a better report than what I called the best-case scenario. There's no "significant structural damage," according to reports, which likely means it's either a Grade I sprain or simple inflammation. While Bonderman is still unlikely to return this season, the need for any surgery has been avoided, and he can get on with the business of preparing for next season. The bad news is that Joel Zumaya left Monday's game with a finger injury. It could have been worse; he broke the nail on his index finger and is day to day. This has nothing to do with his previous finger injury and it shouldn't be a long term problem. The Tigers are also watching Ivan Rodriguez's status after he left the game with dizziness. The danger of concussions for catchers is always present, but there was no word on whether this dizziness was the result of a collision, dehydration, or something else.
  • If his week wasn't bad enough, Troy Glaus left Monday's game with a leg injury. He left in the second inning after hobbling to second, clearly in pain with another flareup of his plantar fasciitis. Glaus has been able to return relatively quickly from previous episodes, but given the Jays' place in the standings and Glaus' off-field issues, it's possible that the team will shut him down. No decision is expected to be made quickly, and Glaus will continue his treatment. Fasciitis has proven itself a tough injury to overcome or play through, ending or slowing the careers of many, and with the turf in Toronto, it's likely to be even more of a problem for Glaus. It will be tough to get full value or even any value in trade, but this should be an interesting off-season for Glaus and the Jays.
  • Several readers wrote to note that Milton Bradley, Rondell White, and Cliff Floyd had something in common that I didn't note. All of them started their careers with the Montreal Expos. It's an interesting commonality, but I'm not sure it's meaningful. While you could add in Larry Walker or Mark Grudzielanek as players who have had injury problems after coming up with the former franchise, there's nothing that appears at fault here, from the medical staff to even the horrible turf at the Big O. If anything, it may have been a scouting issue. The Expos were long known as a 'tools' team, willing to take athletes rather than baseball players. One of the things they might have overlooked or devalued was injury risk. It's an interesting note, but I'm not sure how much we can learn from it, unfortunately.
  • Orlando Hudson had successful surgery to repair the torn ligament in his wrist, and he's expected to be back in action in time for spring training. There was much speculation this season that Hudson might not be back with the D'backs despite his defensive contributions because he's heading in to his five-plus arbitration negotiation. It's unclear what, if any, effect this injury will have on that decision. The starting rotation might take up a collection to help pay him, given all the help he's given them.
  • Jason Bay had an MRI on his right knee that came back with no structural damage. This isn't the knee he had surgically repaired last off-season, but it might be the one that needs work this off-season. Bay's knees seem to have rapidly deteriorated over the last few years, mostly as the result of patellar tendinitis. It's a bit strange, and reminiscent of J.D. Drew's early-career struggles with this injury, so it certainly bears some scrutiny. Bay's season totals in 2007 have to be considered disappointing, and while he's not one to blame the injury, it seems the most reasonable explanation. One thing to note is that his knee pain shouldn't be affecting his eyes; Bay's OBP plummeted nearly sixty points, which might be more concerning than the knees.
  • In something of a surprise, Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times is reporting that the Rays are prepping for Rocco Baldelli to rejoin the team. There's been no official confirmation of this nor word on what the team thinks Baldelli can do, though speculation is that they're hoping to get a couple games of DH just to give Baldelli some kind of positive to close out the season. Baldelli was shut down twice during his rehab because of continuing leg problems, though neither of these were recurrences or exacerbation of the chronic hamstring strains. It will bear watching to see if Baldelli shows that his hitting hasn't been lost, and if he's a valid DH candidate for next season. From our event at the Trop last week, I can definitely say that Rays fans have lost patience in Baldelli, but there's still a lot of talent there.
  • Sometimes, my readers say it all. Andrew Moody emailed with this classic:
    I was sitting here watching Roy Halladay take the ball in the 9th and I felt compelled to do a little research. What I found... From 2002 to July 27 of this year, over 161 starts, Halladay had gone over 120 pitches 4 times (once each in '02, '03, '04, '05). In 9 starts since July 27 of this year, Halladay has gone over 120 pitches 5 times, including 4 of his last 5 starts. Losing a measure of his legendary efficiency likely plays a part, as does his gamer mentality and the bullpen behind him. But my god, they're Ruining the Pitcher. Is this just Gibbons trying to secure a couple extra wins at the expense of his ace? Actually that might be giving Gibbons too much credit. As I was typing, Gibbons pulled Doc for Casey Janssen who then proceeded to blow a save as few have ever blown a save. Wow. That was majestic. They should fire Gibbons before he gets to the postgame spread.
  • Quick Cuts: Ken Rosenthal nails it in this piece. It's not new thinking, but Rosenthal's more widely read than those of us that have been saying it for a while. We need more voices speaking out on this. In the face of the Signature scandal, the Mitchell Report is fast moving from irrelevant to counter-productive. ... Think that Scott Kazmir didn't notice that Erik Bedard was shut down and that he was competing with Johan Santana for the strikeout title? The Red Sox know otherwise. ... How do the Yankees "not know" if Roger Clemens threw his Saturday pen? ... Justin Upton banged his knee off the outfield wall, but came back and hit a big home run. Watch to see if the knee tightens up. ... Pat Neshek was unavailable with arm fatigue, according to the Twins. He never mentioned that in the interview I did with him Monday afternoon that you'll hear later on this week.

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