April 17, 2008
Under The Knife
History on Repeat
Alfonso Soriano (15 DXL)
The Cubs placed Soriano on the DL with a calf strain. There was some chatter about an Achilles problem, but the video is clear on this one-at the time of the injury, he quickly reach down and grabbed the belly of the muscle, which is where the imaging found a "grade II strain," though one source with knowledge of the situation said the strain is "minor; I'd have called it a I+, but [then] you'd have beat up the Cubs for soft-pedaling it." (For the record, I doubt that I would. That fine line between I+ and II is seldom something I spend much time on.) The Cubs will be careful with Soriano in his return, dealing with it much the same way they did with his previous leg injuries, telling him to ease up and keeping him out of running situations. I'll say this again so that no one misunderstands-they'll tell him not to run all-out, which has nothing to do with his hustle and is the smart thing to do. Soriano shouldn't miss much past the minimum, but his running and range will be affected for longer than that. The interesting move behind this one was leaving Matt Murton in Iowa. Where's the "Free Matt Murton" movement?
Ted Lilly (0 DXL)
Getting compared to Barry Zito isn't a good thing these days, but that was just one of the images called up by Lilly concerning his recent loss of velocity. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Larry Rothschild calls the drop "mysterious," while also saying that the pitcher doesn't have a medical or mechanical problem. At this stage, although no one will use the term it appears that Lilly is dealing with dead arm. If that's the case, we should see him come back from this within a couple of starts. Given how the team is already juggling in the rotation with Jon Lieber and Rich Hill (who's returning to it), the Cubs could always elect to skip Lilly the next time through and see if that helps him get his arm strength back. I'm sure someone will bring up his glove-slamming "Brad Lidge moment" and wonder if this is mental, but that's something only Lilly would know.
Erik Bedard (15 DXL)
A front office type emailed today to remind me that Bedard went on the DL all the way back in 2000 with a hip problem. It was a very interesting note since that was actually news to me, so "reminding" me was really a case of informing me of something that everyone else-including the Mariners-seems to have forgotten. Here's the fact: multiple sources have confirmed that Bedard is dealing with a minor acetabular tear. The only disagreement is whether to call it a "small tear," or "fraying." If this is a long-term issue that's just now becoming symptomatic, that really doesn't change anything. We have seven years of performance since 2000, his first known hip problem, and now, his latest known hip problem. If nothing else has changed, we still don't know what caused the most recent symptoms. After speaking with a team physician who has significant experience with hip injuries but who has not examined Bedard, he did not think that a "small tear would be much of an issue-unless it gets bigger." He elaborated, "the worry isn't that there's a small tear. It's that pitching will make it bigger." That's something we just won't know, though the progression of symptoms-it felt worse after pitching, and was painful just before a start-indicates that the inflammation afterwards is more of an issue than the tear at this stage. In the long term, Bedard will likely need to have the hip cleaned up, much in the same way that Justin Duchscherer did this past offseason. That's not that a bad thing, assuming it can really wait until the offseason. Bedard is scheduled to throw on the side and insists he'll be ready to come off the DL next week. We'll see.
Nomar Garciaparra (20 DXL)
The flu got Nomar back in the lineup. How so? According to Joe Torre, there's been a flu bug running through the Triple-A Las Vegas clubhouse, so the Dodgers elected to bring Garciaparra back a couple of days early. Garciaparra went 1-for-2 in his return, and was then lifted due to the cold conditions after the Dodgers jumped out to a big lead. That reflects how the Dodgers will be easing Garciaparra back in, having kept Blake DeWitt on the roster in the meantime. With Andy LaRoche in extended spring training now, the Dodgers will soon have depth-and a decision to make-at the hot corner.
Joe Borowski (45 DXL)
There are a lot of possible explanations for Borowski's velocity loss, some that are injury-related and some that aren't, but we'll stick to what we know. Eric Wedge says that Borowski injured his triceps very early in camp and fought through that. The facts seem to back that statement up, but there might be more to it. Borowski was working on a two-seamer early in camp as well, which could be interpreted as an adjustment to loss of velocity. It could also be that the triceps strain forced a change in his mechanics, though there's just not enough available video for me to get a solid idea on this. The Indians seem to think that Borowski can come back relatively quickly, and given the injury they should be right. Comparing this to John Lackey's triceps strain as far as time lost (even though the location is significantly different, at the opposite end of the muscle) isn't a bad concept, meaning Borowski should be expected to miss between 30 and 45 days. I'll set the DXL at the high end, anticipating that the Tribe will have no need to rush Borowski back.
Jorge Posada (0 DXL)
The Yankees may get Posada back behind the plate, but until his shoulder is back up to at least throwing strength, Joe Girardi is probably going to have to be creative. In Posada and Jose Molina, he has a clear offense/defense platoon, but does he have the right mix in which to deploy it? Heading into a series with the Rays, Joe Maddon is going to be smart enough to run like crazy if Posada's behind the plate, but not quite as much if Molina proves that his hamstring will allow him to throw (or if Tony Pena Sr. teaches him to throw from his knees, I guess). I tried to think through all the possibilities, but there's really not a good scenario given the situation, because there's always going to be something to give up, whatever Girardi chooses. The biggest concern I have is the chances that when Posada is behind the plate, he gets frustrated at people running on him and he overthrows, re-straining the shoulder and doing more significant damage.
Mark Mulder (45 DXL)
Chris Carpenter (90 DXL)
Raise your hand if you thought that the Cards would have one of the best records in baseball this season. OK, put your hands down, Mr. Mozeliak and Mr. Abbamondi. The rest of you, if you raised your hands, you're either lying, crazy, or have a Cards tattoo somewhere on your person. The Cards have done this with a piecemeal rotation that has them hoping that reinforcements are on the way. Mulder is the first big-name pitcher to make it back. In his recent A-ball start he topped out at 88 mph but was pitched well, and he ended the game without feeling any pain. His next start will be at Double-A Springfield, a lot closer to St Louis both physically and metaphorically. There's no definitive timetable on his return, but if he shows the same type of stuff, he's going to be an option. The Cards also got some positive news on Carpenter, in that he will throw batting practice at extended spring training. He's still on track for a return around the All-Star break.
Mike Hampton (30 DXL)
Tom Glavine (0 DXL)
The Braves are struggling with some injuries right now, but this is a team that really planned for potential injuries by assembling some depth. I'll admit that I hadn't paid close attention to the roster construction of the Braves, but with known injury risks like Rafael Soriano, Mike Hampton, and Chipper Jones, even a cursory look at the lineup shows that Frank Wren and his staff did far more than give the team a cursory look. Even so, Glavine is one player they didn't expect to have problems with, though at 40, he's someone who we shouldn't be surprised to hear is dealing with muscular issues. He left his last start with a mild hamstring strain, but made it through his throw day and should make his next start. There's some worry about whether he'll tighten up again, so if your fantasy team has options, you might want to give Glavine a day off. Hampton is also making progress, throwing a light bullpen session and showing no problems with his strained pectoral muscles or any of his various other maladies. He's scheduled for a harder workout in the pen followed by a rehab assignment. In Hampton's case, I'm not sure I'd send him on a rehab; this might be a case where I'd pair him up with a long reliever and let him "rehab" in the major leagues. Let's face it-Hampton's injury-prone and risking injury in the minor leagues isn't going to get you any major league value.
Quick Cuts: Curtis Granderson could start a rehab assignment as soon as Friday, with a return to the Tigers as soon as early next week, depending on how well his finger responds to hitting. ... Kevin Youkilis fouled a ball off of his foot; images were negative, but he could miss some time based on swelling and pain. ... No, it's still not something physical or at least injury-related with C.C. Sabathia. ... Chris Snelling home run! Chris Snelling home run! ... J.R. Towles will miss a couple of games with a bruised hand, but he should be back by the weekend. ... Carlos Zambrano says he's dealing with caffeine-related dehydration. I'm hearing otherwise, though no one will confirm that he's got a therapeutic use exemption (or TUE), which if he does have one could be part of the problem. ... Speaking of therapeutic use exemptions, I think it's interesting that 8.2 percent is the number for both African-American athletes in the game and the number of TUEs granted to players to use ADHD-therapy drugs. You tell me, which one is a bigger issue?