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April 16, 2008

Under The Knife

Too Many Pitchers

by Will Carroll

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Erik Bedard (15 DXL)
"Torn labrum." That's what I'm hearing, but it's not what you're thinking. Bedard is having significant inflammation in his hip that one source tells me has been diagnosed as a small tear of his acetabular labrum. This shouldn't be a cause for panic; knowing that the injury is a small tear doesn't change the prognosis. The Mariners will need to reduce the inflammation and figure out if pitching is going to continue to irritate the injury. If it can't be controlled, Bedard will need surgery, which is normally minor and has a solid track record for returns. It would cost him a couple months, to be sure, but players like Derek Lowe and Justin Duchscherer have come back from the injury. The bigger question is when and how this happened. The M's will be hard at work trying to figure out how to get Bedard back out there and how to keep him back out there over the next ten days. (Calls to the Mariners for comment were not returned by press time.)

Pedro Martinez (45 DXL)
The Mets announced that Martinez would be out until mid-May with his hamstring strain, but there's no setback, the Mets are just being conservative after further examination of Martinez's injured leg. The hamstring is healing nicely, but by delaying his return, the team is giving him a chance to both heal up the leg and build up his arm strength. Doctors told the team that getting Martinez back on the mound by May 1 would be impossible without risking further injury. Combined with the signing of Claudio Vargas and progress from Orlando Hernandez, that was enough for the Mets to slow things down, which will incidentally work as a very effective control on Martinez's innings load. While you'll hear some pessimistic June 1 return dates, I still believe that the total days lost for Martinez will be on the low side.

Randy Johnson (0 DXL)
It was good to see The Big Unit back on the mound, throwing low-90s heat and snapping off sliders. It was better to hear that he had normal soreness after the start. Even better than that was hearing that he had no pain or swelling the next day in either his pitching arm or his surgically-repaired back. His control was a little shaky, especially early and with the fastball, intimating that there's some searching for a release point and a comfort level. Johnson's next scheduled to take the mound on Sunday against the Padres. I'd expect him to both make the start and make some progress with his command. All in all, it was exactly what the D'backs wanted to see from the veteran.

Joe Borowski (60 DXL)
Borowski's comment that he felt as if he were "throwing through water" is one of the best comments I've heard about how it feels to pitch through an injury. Afterwards, imaging found a small tear in his triceps, pushing Borowski to the DL. Borowski's velocity, never an area of strength, was now at a Tim Wakefield level without the movement. The Indians will give Borowski every chance to rehab and come back to reclaim the closer's role, but the majority of people I spoke with think that Borowski is done closing. "They have too many options," one front office type said, "and Borowski was just the cover closer anyway." By 'cover closer' he meant that the Indians, like a few other teams, are putting their best arms in the seventh and eighth innings, and using their "good enough" guy as the de facto closer. I still think there's a choke element that many have to get past in the ninth, but the Indians do have several options, including Rafael Betancourt, who seems to be getting the first shot. (Try not to boo or throw syringes when he comes in to close.) I'll go on the high side with Borowski's DXL since the Indians shouldn't have any need to be aggressive with a return for him.

Alfonso Soriano (TBD)
Paul Sullivan nailed this one--it was the hop that hurt him. Soriano has a habit of hopping just before he makes a catch in the outfield; I'm not sure if it's a nervous thing or a showboat move, but in this case, he immediately grabbed his calf and came out of the game. The injury is right in the belly of the muscle and swelled up significantly, which sounds bad, but what will be more important is whether that swelling reduces quickly. Until there's more information, it's impossible to tell just how significant the strain is, but Soriano's continual leg problems, even with a solid conditioning and maintenance problem, recall those of Ken Griffey Jr. It's not as traumatic to be sure, but they seem to be building on each other, and no one seems sure how to stop them from happening. There's no prognosis yet so we'll put the DXL in a holding pattern until we know.

John Lackey (30 DXL)
Lackey recovered well after a bullpen session over the weekend, and will follow up with another one later this week. If he makes it through the planned 60-pitch session without significant problems in his injured elbow/triceps, he'll be ticketed for a rehab assignment shortly thereafter. His arm didn't have any issues, even throwing breaking balls; one observer called him "very sharp." Lackey was a bit sore afterwards and he lacked stamina, but that's to be expected at this stage of his rehab. The best guesses on timing right now have him making two rehab starts next week and returning the following week to the Angels rotation.

Peter Moylan (165 DXL)
A lot of people wrote in asking why I believed that Manny Acosta would be getting the saves when Rafael Soriano went down. The answer was that one of my better sources gave me that tidbit. What I didn't know at the time is that Moylan was fighting through a serious elbow injury and possibly headed for surgery. Moylan's odd motion and injury history were never favorable for keeping his arm healthy, but he was certainly effective at times. He'll head over to Birmingham later this week, but indications are that his season is in jeopardy. Bobby Cox and pitching coach Roger McDowell will have to hope that Soriano comes back quickly, that Acosta can handle the late innings, and that they can find some healthy relievers somewhere in their system. Keep in mind that Mike Gonzalez is on track to return around midseason from last June's Tommy John surgery.

Yovani Gallardo (20 DXL)
There's still a bit of uncertainty about when Gallardo will be back. It's not anything to do with Gallardo or his knee, but about how to set the rotation and figuring out who gets bumped. Sunday is the day that he was initially expected back, which is also the date that Dave Bush would next throw, which would indicate that Bush might be the guy getting bumped after his initial poor start against the Cardinals. Ned Yost isn't ready to announce that just yet, instead saying that Gallardo might be held back a day or two, keeping the slots of Carlos Villanueva and Manny Parra in play. Whichever way they go, Gallardo will be back soon and he hasn't shown any issues with the knee since returning to the mound.

Matt Garza (15 DXL)
Scott Kazmir (30 DXL)
Garza is making progress from his radial nerve irritation, and at this stage looks to be coming off the DL around the minimum time away; he responded well to a cortisone injection and made it through a bullpen session without issue. The tough part of gaging his recovery is that Garza has said that the problem only comes up when he's throwing at 100 percent, like a tire that only blows out at the redline. He'll have another session later this week and may not need a rehab assignment before returning to the rotation. The news was also good for Kazmir. He went a day early to extended spring training and now has his schedule set for his rehab assignment: after throwing the equivalent of two innings, Kazmir now heads to High-A Vero Beach for a four-inning stint on Friday, then one more start for Vero Beach, then a final tuneup at Durham on April 28. That schedule puts him back at just over the expected 30 days away, but I won't adjust it at this late stage. The schedule has him set to return against the Red Sox.

Quick Cuts: I had a long talk with a scout who was at the game about Johnny Cueto's last performance. Watch his control next time out and his release point. ... Jose Reyes came back strong, going 4-for-5 while leading off. He was caught stealing, but he looked good legging out a triple. ... Kevin Slowey made it through a bullpen session, though the Twins don't think he'll be back before the calendar flips. ... Justin Duchscherer should be back after a short rehab stint, likely just one start. Maybe he'll call Erik Bedard in the meantime. ... David DeJesus was back in the Royals lineup, something Trey Hillman said wouldn't happen until he was 100 percent, so take that info and run with it. ... Michael Cuddyer is expected back this weekend, not a bad recovery from an open dislocation. He was scheduled to do light hitting yesterday, so we'll have to see how he responds. ... Dioner Navarro should be back behind the plate for the Rays by the weekend after recovering from his cuts. ... Fernando Rodney gave it another shot, just like the Tigers asked, with the same poor results. He'll head to Birmingham. ... Worthless because they do nothing with their data.

Related Content:  Back,  The Who,  Rafael Soriano

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