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July 23, 2008

Under The Knife

Hiding Out

by Will Carroll

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Jorge Posada (30 DXL)
After going 1,200 words on him yesterday, you'd think I'd have nothing left to say about Posada. The Yankees are trying to keep it that way, hiding him from the media by telling him to stay home. Brian Cashman made himself scarce as well, leaving the local media thrashing in the water like it was already Shark Week. We know that Posada had images taken today, but the results and Posada's decision based on those results remains unknown. This may be because, according to one source, Posada has requested that the images be checked by other doctors. This is similar to how things were handled back in April when Drs. Andrews and Kremchek were consulted. I'd imagine it's the same sort of thing here if this is the case, and I expect this to move pretty quickly, though I have no idea right now which way Posada's decision will go. Funny-in yesterday's article, I didn't even think to put a DXL on this. We'll go with 30 for now, though he could end up being done for the season.

Billy Wagner (0 DXL)
The MRI told the Mets' medical staff that Billy Wagner was having "muscle spasms" in his pitching shoulder... or did it? The reports around the baseball world gave just that diagnosis, but it's actually conflating two things. The images showed no structural damage in the shoulder, while Wagner's reports of his symptoms led to a diagnosis of spasm. It's not exactly the same thing, but the more interesting point here is that spasm is an effect, not a cause. One source pointed to his problems with his trapezius muscle in addition to shoulder tightness, and suggested that Wagner is having a nerve problem that may be rooted in his neck. If Wagner has a slight disc herniation that's entrapping the nerve, the same set of symptoms could be seen. Sources close to Wagner dismissed this suggestion, focusing on Wagner's clean MRI. We'll see whether the symptoms stick around as the Mets fight a three-way battle in the NL East over the next few weeks.

Chris Young (60 DXL)
Young went five innings in an A-ball rehab start without any trouble, and will make one more rehab start over the weekend before returning to the Padres' rotation. It appears that not only does he have no problems pitching after his surgery to correct skull fractures inside his sinuses, but the work he did prior to the surgery paid off in terms of stamina and command as well. Young thought he could have gone further, and he'll be allowed to stretch it out a bit more in his next start, meaning he could come off the DL with little or no limitations. One observer said Young looked "completely normal" and showed no signs of "flinching" on pitches, a common occurrence after a baseball nearly caves in your face.

Fausto Carmona (60 DXL)
Everything went well for Carmona in his last work, putting him in line to rejoin the Indians rotation this weekend, likely on Saturday. Carmona's hip was not an issue during his Tuesday side session, when he threw at normal velocity and mixed in all his pitches. The sinker is the key, and he had no difficulty making it do its magic during the session. Carmona will be limited in his first few starts, though it sounds as if that limit could be as high as 90 pitches. After missing nine weeks, Carmona's stamina appears to be the one issue he has left to address, but the Indians can and will be conservative with him through the rest of the season. In some ways, holding back his innings after the year he had his big jump will be a long-term help, though the Indians would like to have seen him pushing towards 200 innings rather than wind up closer to 100.

Joe Crede (2 DXL)
Crede made it through the All-Star break without being derailed by his chronic back problems, a testament both to the success of his surgery and to the rehab prowess of head trainer Herm Schneider. Unfortunately, it looks like it didn't take long after the break for things to take a slight downturn. Crede's back has tightened up, and he was out of the Sox lineup on Tuesday. No one I spoke with seemed concerned at all with this-just a minor issue that should clear up with only a game or two missed. Crede has had a number of episodes like this, the most recent being in late June, but he's always come right back with no apparent deficits on the field. There's no reason to think this will be any different, though with chronic back problems, you always have to be a bit wary of the wheels coming off or the chassis crumbling.

Chris Duncan (15 DXL)
Adam Wainwright (45 DXL)

Continuing the theme of good news/bad news around the league, the Cards lost Duncan to a neck issue that he's been playing through, but at least they could be just a few weeks from getting Wainwright back into their rotation. Duncan has been plagued by injuries since the start of the season; he was coming off of hernia surgery he had during the offseason, and he's had back, hamstring, and now neck issues in-season. The condition isn't considered serious, but he'll need rest in addition to treatment to calm it down. The news is significantly better for Wainwright, who was cleared to step up his rehab and could be facing live batters by this time next week. Wainwright made it through a 40-pitch bullpen session without any problem with his injured finger. Sources say that Wainwright is expected to return to the rotation on or before August 10. That puts him back just after Chris Carpenter, but that should give the Cardinals a huge boost if they end up getting fifteen starts down the stretch from their top two starters.

Ryan Zimmerman (60 DXL)
Almost lost in the Nats' trade and signing frenzy yesterday was the activation of Ryan Zimmerman. The "face of the franchise" has had a miserable season, but going 1-for-3 with two walks will help people remember his talent, rather than his sub-.300 OBP. The shoulder problem will still need to be fixed in the offseason, but for now it looks as if the slight loss of power and the recurrence risk is all Zimmerman will be dealing with. The Nats are asking him to try not to dive, but that may be a bit tough at third base, seeing as most plays there are made on reaction, not decision. Beyond the chance of re-injury, there's also some risk that the Nats will shut him down early for surgery so that he can be ready for next season, but as yet, the Nats aren't publicly discussing that possibility.

Juan Pierre (30 DXL)
Pierre will begin a rehab assignment in Triple-A Vegas and should be back within the week, after missing a month with a sprained knee. The ligament sprain should not affect his straight-line speed, so it shouldn't be much of factor offensively, much like Pierre himself. With Andruw Jones still struggling, it looks as if Joe Torre will have some decisions to make, especially if the Dodgers use their outfield surplus to help push through a deal for a shortstop. Pierre could be activated as soon as Saturday if he has no problems and shows some signs of offensive life. The baserunning that holds value for fantasy players shouldn't be affected, but his playing time will have big ramifications on how many opportunities he has to run, and that's still to be determined. Pierre is back well before his expectation, which was originally 45 days.

Quick Cuts: Colby Rasmus left Tuesday's game on a checked swing, and it must have been powerful because there are rumors that he's sprained his knee and could be done for the season. ... Happy Birthday to my nephew, who turns one today! ... Looks like Alfonso Soriano will be activated today, though no final decision or roster move has been made. The Cubs could swap out Soriano with Kerry Wood if the latter has blister problems in his scheduled bullpen session. ... Looks like the cortisone injection in Pedro Martinez's hip has helped. He's expected to start this weekend. Yes, I said hip, not groin. ... Brian Bruney is expected back in the Yankees' pen by the weekend. It also helps set a timeline for Chien-Ming Wang, as he's coming back from a similar Lisfranc injury. Wang isn't throwing yet, and according to Peter Abraham can't even drive. ... Aaron Harang is making some progress throwing on flat ground. He's still at least a couple of weeks away from a return. ... Shaun Marcum returned for the Jays on Tuesday and looked terrible. Remember, he really ran out of gas last year. This season the shoulder injury seems to have cost him some velocity and command. ... Tom Glavine made it through a "light" bullpen session Tuesday without significant problems in his elbow, though he also stated that his shoulder felt good. Don't expect too much even if he is able to make it back. ... Josh Fogg was hit in the face during batting practice. It's not clear how serious the injury is at this stage, or who would replace him if he can't make his next start. ... Brandon McCarthy started a rehab assignment in Triple-A, being caught by the also-rehabbing Gerald Laird. McCarthy went 60 pitches with middling results but made it through physically. Laird should be back within days. ... The Twins still aren't sure what's causing the pain in Michael Cuddyer's hand, but they are sure he won't be back in their lineup soon.

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