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February 11, 2008

Team Health Reports

San Diego Padres

by Will Carroll

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The Facts
Head Trainer: Todd Hutcheson
Player Days Lost, 2007: 310
Dollars Lost, 2007: $3.2 million
Three Year Rank: 13

One Padre watcher tells me that some of the problems that the Pads had last season resulted from Kelly Calabrese's pregnancy. Calabrese, the team's massage therapist and an extension of the medical staff, is a trusted therapist who did a lot to keep some of the players healthy. When she left, that insider said that many of the players very literally tightened up. Calabrese is back, so we'll have to see. This is one of those theories that I honestly have no idea whether it's true or not, but which makes assessing a team's health so interesting.

You'll see that the team has a lot of yellow and some red at some key positions, which will present a challenge to Todd Hutcheson and his staff. The skill and success that they've had--especially in rehab and maintenance--is what allowed Kevin Towers to take some gambles this winter, like adding Randy Wolf and Mark Prior to the back end of a solid rotation, and adding Jim Edmonds to the big center field in Petco. With those kinds of additions to the roster, the staff will need to be as good as they were last year while working harder.

One other key for the team's success will be keeping ace Jake Peavy under control. He's a stubborn pitcher with a mean streak, which makes it tougher to tell him that he needs to dial it back. Peavy's workload has been heavy but, as his long-term deal reflects, he's as irreplaceable as any pitcher in baseball. He's had some minor injuries and will need to continue to focus on his mechanics on the mound as well as his commitment to stay in shape during the off-season off of it.

The Big Question
The bloggers from Gaslamp Ball ask "What can we expect from Mark Prior and Randy Wolf at the back of the rotation considering the fact that their arms are made of candy corn and daydreams?" A nice image, guys. The fact is that, at what these players cost, they're essentially all upside. Wolf looked solid at times with the Dodgers but, like many post-Tommy John pitchers, his altered mechanics led to a shoulder problem. Bud Black and Darren Balsley have had solid success making mild mechanical alterations to their charges, such as the one made to Jake Peavy's delivery before last season. I'm not saying that the Pads should expect much from either pitcher, just that if there's a situation where everything's lined up to give them success, it's in Petco. It's more than just the dimensions that are pitcher-friendly in San Diego.

Overall, the Pads have an obvious task: maintaining the effectiveness of a few key players while not letting something new slip by. The medical staff has proven themselves capable of bringing home the Dick Martin Award, but they'd rather get a ring.

---

C Josh Bard Yellow light: There's not much to say here, other than pointing out that he's a catcher who wore down under the workload of regular playing time. He'll split the catching duties with Michael Barrett Green light, which is probably better all around.

1B Adrian Gonzalez Green light

2B Tadahito Iguchi Green light

3B Kevin Kouzmanoff Yellow light: I'm honestly not sure about this yellow. I think the system is seeing the drop in PAs as a minor injury. He's at the low end of the yellow even with this, so I'm not too worried.

SS Khalil Greene Yellow light: Greene finally made it through a season without suffering even a minor injury. While most of these were matters of bad luck, it's a big deal that he can handle the grind of being an everyday shortstop. He's at the low end of the yellow and seems to be headed towards a run where he could stay healthy enough to determine what his true talent level really is.

LF Scott Hairston Yellow light: Hairston has always been held back by minor injuries at just the wrong time, much like last year when he missed a chance to take Milton Bradley's place in the regular lineup due to a sore oblique. He'd be better-suited to a fourth outfielder or platoon role because of this, but for that to happen, Chase Headley will have to prove himself ready to start.

CF Jim Edmonds Red light: The Cardinals decided to let the Padres take the gamble that Edmonds has another year left in him. Between the back and shoulder, the Cards seem to have the better end of this deal, but the Pads' medical staff might just make this one pay off.

RF Brian Giles Red light: Giles is coming off of microfracture surgery, which hasn't been done much in baseball, but the technique is beginning to deliver more predictable results. Given Giles' condition and the fact that he plays on grass, he should be OK, but there's enough uncertainty tacked on to his age that the red is warranted. Watch to make sure that he's ready to go on Opening Day and able to play on consecutive days.

SP Jake Peavy Green light

SP Chris Young Yellow light: Last year, Chris Young said he was working hard to make sure he didn't have the same kind of drop-off that he had in the second half of previous seasons. He seemed well on his way... until an oblique strain got him.

SP Greg Maddux Green light

SP Randy Wolf Red light: Most pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery easily. The one big problem is that if the mechanics aren't fixed, then shoulder problems--the new weak link in the kinetic chain--can lead to another breakdown. That's what happened here, but the Dodgers minimized the damage. He's not in the clear, but he's got a decent shot at being average.

SP Mark Prior Red light: Do I really have to explain this? Once he actually gets back on a mound, Prior is going to have to prove that his mechanics can get back to the picture-perfect variety that protected this from being even worse. (Yes, it could have been much worse.)

CL Trevor Hoffman Yellow light: Hoffman had his first elbow surgery in the offseason, clearing out some bone chips. He'll be ready for spring training, and doesn't appear to have any sort of recurrence risk.

RP Heath Bell Green light

Projected lineups appear courtesy of SportsBlog Nation

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