April 10, 2008
Under The Knife
If the Trop didn't have a dome, I think Joe Maddon might be looking to the heavens, waiting for frogs to fall from the sky. The latest victim of the injury streak is Cliff Floyd. Now, it's no stunner that Floyd is injured, but the injury stacking that the team has had makes even an expected injury tougher to deal with. Floyd has a small tear in his meniscus that will be fixed with a quick scope. He'll miss roughly a month, maybe a bit more. I'm setting this at 40 DXL because with turf and Floyd's history, I think the Rays will be conservative here and keep him towards the far end of the range. Floyd, for his part, thinks he'll be back in three weeks, which is possible. Once back, Floyd should be a bit more comfortable, but remains injury-prone. In the meantime, Maddon will use Justin Ruggiano to keep Jonny Gomes from getting exposed defensively as the team really tests its outfield depth.
Tommy Rancel of "Rays Anatomy" was able to find a couple other pitchers who had radial nerve problems, like Shawn Hill and John Patterson. Matching up their experiences with the positive news coming from Tampa on Matt Garza is tough to do. Garza says that he's come back from this quickly in the past, but that leaves open the question of how to keep it from recurring next time. Essentially, Garza isn't in significant pain, but has carpal tunnel-like tingling and numbness, a condition that might make hitting his spots difficult. The DL is the smart move, giving him two weeks to recover while the Rays medical staff works to see if it can prevent this from happening again. Garza has been shut down for a week, making that 15-day mark a bit shaky.
The Yanks found an MRI machine in Kansas City and got Derek Jeter inside it. It was simply a precaution, and the results were about what everyone expected. Jeter has a mild quad strain. The location is high and medial, near where many might call it a groin injury, but the images did show that it's a small, Grade I+ tear in his quad. Jeter's first step has never been his strength, but this is the type of thing where his "baseball IQ" should help. I won't get wrapped up in the holy war on Jeter's defense, but I will note that Jeter has never been able to do what Cal Ripken Jr. did--adjust for diminishing range with better positioning. The question now isn't whether Jeter could come back by the weekend, but whether the Yankees will be conservative with a five-to-seven day injury by putting him on the 15-day DL.
The news for Jorge Posada is a little better than expected after images showed a strained shoulder. It wasn't, as some reports had, a rotator cuff tear, but a simple strain of one of the larger muscles, though sources are conflicted on which one it actually is. He'll avoid the DL, which is a surprise and a shift from Joe Girardi's history with the Marlins, telling us that the roster moves might not be his call (or that it was Florida GM Larry Beinfest who was more conservative. It's hard to tell.) The Yankees certainly shouldn't have much of a problem playing a couple men down, as their roster does hold a lot of flexibility. Jose Molina will continue to fill in, with Morgan Ensberg as the emergency catcher (according to Newsday's Kat O'Brien), though Ensberg has a tender ankle right now. Both Posada and Jeter appear to be out for the weekend series with the Red Sox.
It's a new injury for El Duque's problematic push foot. The only pushing it will do for a couple weeks is pushing his return further back. Hernandez has been diagnosed with a tendon strain inside the foot, something seemingly unrelated to previous problems, though it could be called a cascade injury due to changes in the way he's used the foot or guarded it during his rehab. He'll be in a walking boot for a couple weeks to protect it, and while he'll do what he can to keep his arm strength up, it's an obvious setback for his return. Given the pace he was on, this pushes the earliest possible return to mid-May. With both Hernandez and Pedro Martinez out into May, the Mets pitching depth will be tested.
Yovani Gallardo is back with the Brewers, but he's not yet off the DL and into the rotation. Weather doesn't normally make a player come back more quickly, but the concerns about rainouts as the team heads to New York this weekend got them to bring Gallardo along as a hedge. Ned Yost isn't really tipping his hand on how or even if Gallardo would be used, though most of the speculation is that he will replace David Bush in the rotation or help the pitching depth in case of doubleheaders. It's an interesting situation, one where the Brewers are playing from strength. There's still a chance that Gallardo will head back for one more rehab start, but at this stage, there's little doubt that he'll be back in the big-league rotation by the end of next week. The knee has been no problem at all since minor surgery early in spring.
J.J. Putz played catch in the Trop's outfield. It was the first time Putz has thrown since heading to the DL with costochondritis. He made it through the session of 60-foot throws without pain, but the team is still being conservative with him. He'll be out at least another week, making it unlikely that he'll be back when eligible on the 17th. It's not going to be long after that, it doesn't appear, though as with obliques, this type of injury can have a severe and lingering nature. I'll leave Putz at 15 DXL here and just chalk up a couple extra days to playing it safe by the Mariners. Check if Putz gets up on a mound by this time next week to see if he's on plan.
After making it through a couple of normal BP sessions, Nomar Garciaparra is going to Vegas. That is, he's headed to Triple-A Las Vegas for what could be a short rehab stint. The team has indicated that Garciaparra is making the call on this one, staying only as long as it takes to "feel comfortable," which makes it possible that he could be back over the weekend. The more likely play is that he stays in Vegas through the weekend before re-joining the Dodgers on Monday. You'd think most guys would love a free weekend in Vegas away from the wife and young kids, but let's face it--Nomar's life is a bit different than yours or mine. Once back with the big club, Garciaparra shouldn't have lingering issues with the hand.
It's been a tough early spring for closers. In most situations they're overvalued and replaceable, and now we are seeing just how fragile they can be, as well. Soriano's slow-healing elbow has been problematic since the spring, so a combination of continued problems and a need to get Chuck James back on the active roster pushed the team into making the move. Bobby Cox is saying all the right things about having Soriano healthy over the course of a season, but he neglects to mention that he's had a hard time keeping his two best relievers, Soriano and Peter Moylan, healthy even through spring training and the first two weeks of the season. Manny Acosta will get the save chances in the interim, and Soriano is expected to miss the minimum, as the Braves hope this is nothing more than tendinitis they're DLing Soriano with. His history has to make Braves fans wonder, however.
I hate the word "jammed" almost as much as I dislike "tweak." It's a non-descriptive term all too commonly used to describe finger injuries. Howie Kendrick injured his right thumb on Monday, but images showed no fracture and the swelling was significantly reduced by Wednesday. It wasn't enough to get him back into the Angels lineup, but it doesn't look as if he'll be out in the longer term. This is the kind of injury you'll see more of, especially with right-handed batters, as long as guys like Fausto Carmona and Brandon Webb are dealing up power sinkers.
Quick Cuts: Maybe it's just me, but how does a product like PowerAde get away with using Shawne Merriman, the steroid-using All-Pro LB, in its ads? Doesn't someone who's tested positive for a PED need to be kept away from even the suggestion that some drink or other substance will make you play like him? And doesn't Ryan Howard want to stay away from that same suggestion? ... Dusty Baker said "pitch efficiency" in his press conference. Pinch me ... Mark Prior made it through a BP session. Last time out, he couldn't and came up sore afterwards, so this is progress ... Randy Johnson should make his season debut on Monday in San Francisco. The Giants offense should make for a nice soft landing for the Big Unit ... One of the important things to note about Pedro Martinez's hamstring strain is that while he described a pop, he also described very little swelling and no bruising. You have to listen to everything he says to get this right, though it's always dangerous listening to players about their own injuries ... Right now, it doesn't look like Rich Harden will make his Saturday start. The A's still aren't making a move towards the DL yet ... Good luck to Doug Davis, who's headed for cancer surgery.