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August 26, 2008

Under The Knife

Last-Gasp Effort

by Will Carroll

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Johnny Cueto (10 DXL)
The diagnosis for Cueto was initially reported as a strained triceps near his shoulder, but the Reds say today that he has a strain at the other end of the triceps in his elbow-likely the result of a hyperextension. If there's a "good news" part of that diagnosis, it's that this mechanism usually results from muscle fatigue, meaning that he's become tired before actually breaking down. It's likely that the tendonous insertion of the triceps is damaged, and while that's not good, it's certainly better than damage to the ligament itself. It will be a red flag going forward, especially given Cueto's slight frame and whipping arm action, but again, this has to be looked at relatively. For now Cueto is just going to miss one start, but if there are any further problems, I would think that the Reds will shut him down. It's important to remember that Cueto threw during the winter league season as well, causing additional fatigue that's ended up hurting him now. I doubt he'll be doing much more of that once he's established himself as one of the Reds' potential aces.

John Maine (30 DXL)
Maine did everything he could to pitch through the pain in his shoulder, but despite some desperate efforts, he simply couldn't do it and still remain effective. He had a cortisone shot to try to calm down the area affected by the spur, not picking up a ball until he made his start, but his control suffered because of it. The Mets aren't counting him out completely, but putting him on the DL at this stage of the season shows just how bad things have become. If the Mets hope to play in October, keeping Pedro Martinez healthy becomes even more key now, especially since Mike Pelfrey is nearing the Verducci Effect.

Joe Crede (0 DXL)
Crede was back at third base for the White Sox, but an 0-for-4 day looked similar to what he did on his rehab assignment (2-for-16.) Crede's back is said to be much better and the team doesn't anticipate him having further problems down the stretch, but back injuries, especially chronic ones like Crede's, have a tendency to go off without regard to anyone's schedule. Crede is still clearly affected, although whether it's pain or simply rust that's causing this is impossible to say. He did have some interesting therapy, including the use of radiation on the inflamed nerve in his back. While Crede is saying all of the right things, there is still a great deal of risk here, both of re-injury and continued poor performance in the short term.

Troy Percival (20 DXL)
The Rays have made do without Percival largely because Joe Maddon and the team's front office appear to realize that the same matchups that work in the seventh and eighth innings work in the ninth as well. By mixing and matching his match-up guys, Maddon's pen has been reasonably effective. If Percival was the same shut-down guy he was at the start of the season, wanting him back would be a no-brainer, but he hasn't been that guy since the first month or so. Once Percival returns-which could come as quickly as this weekend-the expectation is that he'll be used as part of that mix-and-match pen, though I'm sure he'll get his share of the 'obvious' save situations when the Rays are up by three in the ninth. Leg problems are tough, and with a month of the season left plus the playoffs, Percival's going to be one of many high-leverage situations... for the team's medical staff.

Joba Chamberlain (30 DXL)
The young Yankee threw a 35-pitch bullpen using all of his pitches, and came away reporting no trouble. It's unclear what the next step will be after another throwing session scheduled for Thursday, but speculation is that he would initially shift to the pen to continue increasing his pitch totals to the point that he could eventually shift back into the rotation. The key word there is "could"-the Yankees have a make-or-break series with the Red Sox on tap, and much of Chamberlain's usage could be predicated on how the standings develop. The key is making sure that Chamberlain is healthy, while also keeping his innings in check. The Yankees have done a pretty good job of both so far, even with the minor rotator cuff problem, but he's also going to need to be a bit more serious about his conditioning.

Garret Anderson (3 DXL)
Anderson felt his knee "catch" as he ran down a ball on defense Sunday. The Angels pulled him, and he wasn't in the lineup Monday, but all indications are that this is a minor problem. With a huge lead in their division, and the only competition remaining being that for home-field advantage, the Angels can be very conservative with injuries, usage patterns, and any other decisions between now and the end of the season, making it more difficult to get a read on the true severity of injuries. One source tells me that Anderson's knees have had minor issues throughout the season, and that while he'll need to have them cleaned up this winter, this latest episode is nothing to be concerned about. Expect Anderson back in the lineup before the week is out at the latest.

Carlos Guillen (5 DXL)
It seems that everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong for the Tigers in 2008. I'm sure that Jim Leyland half expects his next cigarette to explode when he lights it up. The latest setback for the team is another injury to Guillen. The team started the year pushing him to first base hoping the move would keep his knees healthy. That didn't last, but his knees have been fine; it's just everything else that's broken. His back is the problem now, with some painful spasms pushing him out of the lineup again. Guillen has been dealing with intermittent pain for over a month, and the team is now at a point where shutting him down is a possibility. They'll work on him over the next few days in an attempt to get past this, but keep your eyes on the situation.

Adrian Beltre (0 DXL)
Continued shoulder problems haven't hurt Beltre consistently, but the wave-like shape of his season indicates that this may have been lingering for much of the year, and that it's not so easily controlled. The team has used him at DH to take some of the load off of the shoulder, but again, with the season winding down, the Mariners may look to shut him down and have the problem addressed. Heading into the last year of his big contract with the Mariners, Beltre is expected to be in play this offseason as a bargaining chip for whoever gets the GM job in Seattle.

Quick Cuts: You'd think I'd disagree with this article, but I don't, mostly. I'll wait to see what Jenkins' plan is before commenting further. ... Evan Longoria's broken arm is healing well, and he could be back the first week of September. ... Troy Tulowitzki is blaming his bad quad for his poor second half; seems reasonable to me. ... The Indians will make a decision on when to call Victor Martinez up after he catches a full game on Wednesday. ... Mark Ellis continues to have problems with his shoulder, and may miss much of the week due to pain in the joint.

Related Content:  Troy Percival,  Joe Crede

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