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August 19, 2008

Under The Knife

Reinforcements

by Will Carroll

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David Price (0 DXL)
I met up with a small group of readers in Indianapolis to take in Price's second Triple-A start. We were seated next to his family and a crew from ESPN who was shooting an E:60 piece on Price, and it was an interesting perspective. Remember that I am not a scout, but to me Price was merely good, not great. He's very polished, but didn't dominate, as his final line showed. His changeup is average at best, and the hitters were laying off the slider. One surprise was that, for a power pitcher, he was missing down regularly. Good hitters (and by good, I mean major league-level hitters) like Jose Bautista and Ronnie Paulino could hit his fastball. Price was never flustered, though it appeared his pant legs were bothering him. He does have a bit of an uphill motion, but he comes way over the top so that the ball planes down. He'd be very solid in the rotation, but I think that even without an effective third pitch, he'd do better right now in the bullpen.

Ian Kinsler (45 DXL)
Joe Sheehan mentioned Kinsler as a possibility for AL MVP, and while he's played much of the season in the shadow of Josh Hamilton, Kinsler did deserve consideration. He has richly rewarded the Rangers for their faith in signing him, but a sports hernia may have brought his breakout campaign to an abrupt early ending. He was initially diagnosed with a mild groin strain, but after a visit to Dr. Keith Meister in Arlington, Kinsler is facing surgery to correct the issue. Players come back well from this procedure, but it does take about two months. Kinsler's headed to a specialist, where a final determination will be made. The Rangers will definitely feel the effects of this loss, though it could open up some very interesting possibilities for September.

Ryan Braun (3 DXL)
Braun left last night's game after a swing caused his back to tighten up again. While the Brewers refuse to call it more than just tightness, Tom Haudricort is calling it an intracostal strain. If this is a recurrence-or worse, a re-injury-the Brewers' star outfielder could miss more time, though it's unlikely that they would place him on the DL. (This is as good a time as any to remind everyone that with less than fifteen days to roster expansion and the 'end' of the DL, teams become more reluctant to put players on the DL if it will carry them past that first day of September.) Sources tell me that the pain Braun felt wasn't as bad as it had been in the past, and that he'll try swinging before Tuesday's game to test things out. Expect him to miss a few games as they make sure that he's ready for the stretch run.

Justin Duchscherer (7 DXL)
Duchscherer has had a nice year shifting to a starting role, but his problematic hip is acting up again. It's the same hip (the right one) that he needed surgery on, and Susan Slusser has the details. The biggest worry is that it could be additional bone problems-if so, that would be a major concern-but as Slusser states, that seems very unlikely. Duchscherer will have a cortisone shot to try and calm things down, and if it works he'll avoid the DL. If not, there's a possibility that he won't have enough time to be able to come back this season; a pitcher that can't push off simply can't pitch.

Evan Longoria (25 DXL)
Troy Percival (20 DXL)

The Rays got some good news. First, Fay made a bit of a right turn and seemed to veer away from the Trop, so that's good. Then they found out that Longoria and Percival may be back sooner than expected, and that's also good. The fracture near Longoria's wrist is healing well, and he could begin taking swings early next week, putting him on track for a return in the first week of September. For Percival, he'll be able to avoid surgery for now, and will work on getting back to the mound without taxing the knee so much that it might push him back off of it. That will involve a tough balancing act for Percival, pitching coach Jim Hickey, and Joe Maddon. Percival has been plagued by leg problems all season, and while it's not precisely a cascade, it has acted in much the same way as one, working its way down. Figuring out how to keep him healthy and effective, while juggling a bullpen that has been effective but unpredictable, is going to be one of the biggest challenges for the Rays as they head into their first meaningful September.

Chris Carpenter (15 DXL)
Adam Wainwright (60 DXL)

There continues to be a lot of interdependence issues with this pair of pitchers, as the Cardinals try to set up their rotation for the stretch. Wainwright made it through his most recent rehab in dominating fashion, striking out seven in just 4 2/3 innings and showing excellent command. However, the team continues to say that Wainwright will go to the pen, but only if Carpenter is able to return to the rotation. It's a bit odd, given that Wainwright's performance was better than anything Carpenter did during his rehab, but the Cards know that Wainwright has closed before. Perhaps Carpenter is one of those starters who warms up slowly; they'll know more once he begins throwing today. The schedule has him coming back later this month against the Brewers, but one source says it's a coin flip as to whether that will happen. A decision on Wainwright should come before long, but there's no way of telling what the Cards will ultimately get out of these two, or how they'll go about trying to get it.

Quick Cuts: CC Sabathia went 130 pitches, but the Brewers knew that he would be getting some extra rest due to their upcoming schedule. Their handling of Sabathia remains rather inspired. ... Hank Blalock will play first base when he returns, shifting Chris "Crush" Davis over to third base. Fantasy players everywhere are excited. ... Luis Castillo's rehab assignment runs out midweek and will force a move. With Ryan Church also expected back soon, the Mets will have some interesting roster decisions coming up. ... Joe Crede is due to restart his rehab on Tuesday and could return within the week. ... Rickie Weeks is feeling better and thinks he could be back in the lineup later this week. ... Huston Street think he's figured out what's wrong, and that he'll be back to his normal stuff as August ends. ... Reggie Willits will begin a rehab assignment this week. He's coming back from a concussion. ... Nice to see Randy Ruiz getting a shot after his career was almost derailed in the minors by a big problem in the testing program.

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