April 2, 2008
Under The Knife
Pedro Martinez (30 DXL)
I heard two words from almost everyone I spoke with after Pedro hurt his hamstrings, and those words won't make Mets fans happy. The two words? Philip Hughes. Martinez's overextension and sensation of a pop echo the injury that felled Hughes in the midst of his no-hit bid. It's important to remember that Hughes' injury was a bit overblown last year; his recovery was delayed by both a significant ankle sprain and the reinforcement of the rotation by adding Roger Clemens. This should, therefore, be a much quicker recovery. The worry is that Martinez's mechanics might be altered, putting more pressure on his fragile, valuable pitching shoulder. The Mets aren't quite sure how bad the strain is yet; we'll know more tomorrow once the swelling runs it's course. Martinez is headed to the DL, but if you had him on your roster, you should have already had your backup plan in place. Right now, it looks like Orlando Hernandez is Plan B for the Mets, who won't need a fifth starter until the 12th.
Victor Martinez (5 DXL)
Before we talk about the other Martinez injury, let me toss in a quick note about DXL-it covers the entire time period of an injury. In this case, Victor Martinez has missed one day, and I'd expect him to miss about another four, given the information I've gotten. DXL doesn't function as a countdown, but it is a measure of how serious a given injury is. That said, the Indians are having a bit of deja vu, because Martinez injured his quad in last year's opener; this year's injury is just on the opposite side of his leg. The team isn't talking about the DL yet, and most of the sources I talked to said "a week or so." I speculated today on XM's Fantasy Focus that Martinez could come back more quickly if was going to play first base or DH. While DH was the unquestioned domain of Travis Hafner in the past, Pronk's lack of production is making him a little more removable. Overall, it doesn't appear that Martinez's strain is significant, and he'll miss a minimum of time. The larger concern is keeping him healthy and keeping this from becoming a chronic issue, making it harder to keep him behind the plate. (There's video of the injury linked to this MLB.com story.)
Josh Beckett (7 DXL)
The Red Sox have Beckett penciled in for Sunday's start against Toronto after he looked fine in five innings of work in Ft. Myers. The team is waiting to make sure that he recovers well and that his back stays in the same condition it was going into this last non-game work. There don't seem to be any real limitations on Beckett beyond those of his stamina, since he threw all his pitches and according to observers, "looked normal, (a) bit less velocity but he does that when he's not challenged." I'd expect that Beckett will have a pitch limit when he gets his first start, but missing just one start has to be looked at as a win for Beckett, the Sox, and Boston's medical staff. Keeping him healthy the rest of the way is going to be the bigger challenge.
Randy Johnson (15 DXL)
It seems like the Big Unit has spent more time in Tucson than he has in Phoenix during his second stint with the D'backs. He'll log some more work in Triple-A as he makes at least two rehab starts, starting on Thursday, and then again next Tuesday or Wednesday. Assuming all goes well with those outings, Johnson would then come back to the D'backs and essentially replace Doug Davis in the rotation. No one seems concerned at all about Johnson's ability to come back; instead, the question seems to be about how Johnson can best be used. If the team needs to buy him extra rest, they certainly have the personnel to allow that. Johnson's performance over the season is all going to come down to how to maintain his back in order to keep his as close to function as possible. That will certainly be a challenge for Ken Crenshaw and his staff.
Andy Pettitte (5 DXL)
Pettitte made it through his last workout without having his back tighten back up on him, leaving him in position to make his first start as scheduled on Saturday against Tampa. Pettitte is going to be limited to around 80 pitches, and according to observers he's still leaving pitches up a bit, due to both some trepidation at really torquing through his delivery, as well as what seemed to my observer to be some simple timing/sync issues. Apparently, HGH doesn't help with that. As with Johnson, the issue with Pettitte is going to be one of maintenance, but at least with other players in pinstripes that I'm usually concerned about, watching the Yankees play on Tuesday was a revelation. Both Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu looked to be in great shape, and even Jason Giambi seemed to be a bit more mobile. If the conditioning program or Joe Girardi's leaderships gets credited, we have to think that the maintenance done in the training room will be down. That would be a very good sign, for the Yankees, and for their fans.
Omar Vizquel (7 DXL)
Getting Vizquel back isn't going to make the Giants a good team, but it will make them a better team. Yes, even with his 621 OPS last season. Vizquel was scheduled to take part in a simulated game on Tuesday, but there are no reports on how he did or if it even took place, and calls to the Giants weren't returned by deadline. If Vizquel made it through as scheduled, he'll head out for a couple games of rehab in the minors, likely in Fresno, then return next week. Coming back from knee injuries like this seldom involve setbacks, not unless players rush back from them. I'd expect Vizquel to lose a step in the field for a few weeks, something he can probably afford or at least adjust to in the short-term.
Jim Edmonds (7 DXL)
Edmonds is expecting to make his Padres debut over the weekend. He's ramping up to it, shifting from running and agility to batting practice, and then finally to a couple of games at High-A Lake Elsinore on Thursday and Friday. Proximity is the reason he's playing in the California League; he can play there, then get back to San Diego for evaluation and treatment. That proximity has been an advantage for San Diego and by a couple other clubs, most notably Texas. Atlanta has mentioned it as a reason they want to move their Triple-A Richmond franchise to suburban Atlanta. Edmonds' calf doesn't appear to be a long-term concern, though he's going to be as injury-prone as in the past while tasked with patrolling a far larger area and with far less help on either side of him. That's a combo I just don't like.
Scott Kazmir (20 DXL)
The Rays are still taking it very slow with Kazmir. As yet, they haven't publicly announced what comes behind a scheduled Wednesday throwing session. Will it be a simulated game? A two-game minor league rehab stint? Both? The timing of his return is going to depend not only on the Rays' rehab plan for their ace, but also how his arm responds. There hasn't been an actual setback during this rehab program, but the slow pace of it has made it seem that way at times. A return seems on track to beat some of the more pessimistic May 1 estimates, but I'm not sure yet how much. We should know a lot more by the weekend, but until then Rays fans will have to try to keep being patient, knowing that the rotation is no longer just Kazmir.
Scot Shields (10 DXL)
It's not just starters that get into simulated games, and Shields made it through his without aggravating his forearm problem. Now he heads out to a minor league rehab game or two, but the Angels are being very flexible about his return timetable. While he could be back as quickly as the weekend, it's more likely that they want to see how his arm reacts to repeated usage and recovery. That could make for some odd stat lines, as relievers on rehab tend to start games in order to control the length of their appearances. I'm more worried about a recurrence or cascade injury than I am about this forearm issue, so I'd expect Shields back by next week. We certainly should have enough information to make a good decision if you're in a weekly fantasy league.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (0 DXL)
One of the big concerns of the offseason for the Red Sox was that Matsuzaka needed to work on his pitch efficiency. Now, as a known fan of Matsuzaka and of pitch efficiency, it's hard for me to argue, but much like pitching mechanics, pitch selection is something that's difficult to alter. It's a function of stuff, habit, and confidence. Work done on pitch type and pitch perception by Perry Husband plays into this, and if you haven't seen his work, I highly recommend it, though I'll admit that I don't fully understand it either. Last season, Matsuzaka took almost exactly 17 pitches per inning; at that pace, he's always going to hit 100 pitches before the end of the sixth. Last night, in a dominant performance with nine strikeouts, Matsuzaka was just below 15 pitcher per frame. Reducing it any more dramatically is probably not going to fit with Matsuzaka's style, and, worse, there are some hint that efforts to increase efficiency increases risk while decreasing effectiveness. It's going to have to be a gradual change.
Quick Cuts: Derek Lowe appears to have escaped injury after being hit on the ankle with a comebacker. We'll watch to see if the bruise becomes an issue. ... Rocco Baldelli did not have his option picked up by the Rays, which is sadly no real surprise. He's on the 60-day DL. ... There are lots of questions about why I didn't make more of a deal about Ben Sheets and Carlos Zambrano coming back after a 45 minute rain delay on Opening Day. The honest answer is that I missed it. It's a questionable decision, but it was Opening Day, rest schedules are favorable, and these are two of the most-watched pitchers in the game. ... Things have looked good with Freddy Sanchez's shoulder, both at bat and in the field. I think we can look past this one for now. ... Kudos to Ed Montague for running Larry Bowa last night. Bowa had left the confines of the coach's box, had been warned, and finally got tossed, leading to a predictable meltdown. The rule is in place for safety and is a point of emphasis this season. It's nice to see the umps taking safety-and the rule-seriously.