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May 5, 2009

Under The Knife

Down, Out?

by Will Carroll

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Rick Ankiel (NA)
The video really tells the story of how Ankiel was injured, and how he was helped by both the medical staff and his teammates. It's hard to watch Ankiel slamming into the wall face-first, his head and neck twisting to his right as he hits it. As Chris Duncan gets to him, Ankiel is conscious and has some control over his arms. (Watch Ricky Hatton's arms as he's knocked out in Sunday's fight against Manny Pacquiao for comparison.) Duncan reaches him first and smartly does nothing, simply talking to Ankiel, and keeping him down. Ankiel was immobilized as a precaution, though reports say that he never lost feeling in his arms or legs. We don't yet know how he'll recover from this, but the important thing is that he will recover. He'll be assessed over the next few days, but the best sign is that we're talking about when he'll play again rather than if he'll walk again.

Kevin Youkilis (3 DXL)
Youkilis couldn't take it any longer. Even playing the rival Yankees in their new home, he had to leave the game with what were called back spasms. It's actually nearer to his rib cage, making his situation very much like Ryan Braun's. Like Braun, Youkilis is feeling the injury on every swing, indicating that some rest might be in order. The team will re-evaluate him to see if they can get him through this series, but Youkilis is usually the position player who gives the Sox the flexibility to make moves, so losing him actually handcuffs the team. Jeff Bailey is the short-term replacement, though if this turns into a longer-term issue, there's not really much the team can do other than use David Ortiz at first base, at least until Mark Kotsay is ready to return. It's a real mess, one the Sox don't usually find themselves in. We'll know over the next few days if Youkilis is going to be healthy enough to save them again. The DXL here is a minimum, not a prediction.

Oliver Perez (0 DXL)
Perez came limping out of the training room over the weekend with an ice pack on his knee. Was this a bit of Broadway in Flushing, or has Perez been hiding an injury from everyone, contributing to his own demise? No one's sure yet, but what is certain for now is that Perez is heading to the bullpen to work on some things (and by "some things," I think they might mean throwing strikes), while Ken Takahashi takes his spot in the rotation. The Mets are selling this as temporary and the problems as mechanical, but in Indianapolis, where he was sent a few years ago after having the same issues with the Pirates, no one seemed surprised. "He came down here and was supposed to work on things, but he just reminded people how much money he was making anyway," said one front-office member. There's a lesson to learn here in that Perez did come back, but only after a trade and some work with Rick Peterson, then the pitching coach for the Mets. No one, most importantly the Mets, seems to know what the fix might be this time, or when he'll get back. Don't be surprised if we hear more about that knee in the near future.

Carlos Zambrano (15 DXL)
As expected, Zambrano went to the DL with his strained hamstring. All of the news wasn't terrible, as the team acknowledged that they were doing it to keep Zambrano from pushing himself, and wanting to prevent him from any of the injury cascades we saw him endure last season. He's not expected to miss much more than the minimum, which would slot him back into the rotation on May 19 or thereabouts. Given what we know about the strain, called a Grade I+; that's reasonable, and he shouldn't have any recurrence. The Cubs won't use Jeff Samardzija in his slot, but they also haven't made a final decision on who they will use. Randy Wells, currently at Triple-A, is the likeliest replacement for at least one of the starts Zambrano will miss. There is some thought that Lou Piniella may just juggle the rotation around to skip Zambrano's slot and get him back in whenever he's ready.

Ricky Romero (20 DXL)
B.J. Ryan (15 DXL)

The Jays have been succeeding so far almost in spite of their pitching, holding up through April with Roy Halladay and a seeming cast of thousands. The Jays' assorted injury issues in the rotation are already well documented, but few observers have noticed how variegated they are. They've had elbow, shoulder, back, and oblique issues. They've had injuries at literally every level. They've had problems with guys who they've drafted and developed, and guys that they picked up this winter. There's no one thing to blame, which leaves us looking at J.P. Ricciardi. Perhaps it's unfair, but at what point, absent other answers, does the buck stop with the GM? Organizational philosophy is about the only thing that these pitchers have in common, so unless you're willing to say this is a terrible run of luck that's lasted for three years, you have to look upstairs. The Jays should be getting Romero back from his oblique strain soon. He's scheduled to throw in Dunedin, followed shortly by Ryan, who continues to look for his lost velocity.

Bobby Abreu (2 DXL)
Abreu is always a threat for a 30-30 season, having already done so three times in his career. At 35, you'd think that those years were behind him, at least on the steals, but look at his line so far this season: zero home runs, 11 stolen bases. As I suspected this year, we're seeing the return of speed, even with guys like Abreu. I'm not sure if it's a philosophical change, a development change, or just all of the catchers with bad throwing arms around the league, but as Dexter Fowler and Carl Crawford are showing, gaudy displays of speed are back in fashion. Abreu's back could also be an issue in why that power line seems off. He missed the weekend as the medical staff worked to loosen him up, but sources tell me that the problem has been there since spring training. It affects him most, as the stats show, when he's at bat, making it tough for him to rotate, and slowing his swing. Straight-line running isn't being affected nearly as much, and Abreu is taking his chances to keep his value up. The Angels are hoping they can free up his back and balance out that line in the next few weeks, so look for occasional days off, especially when they can be paired with an offday.

Ervina Santana (40 DXL)
John Lackey (40 DXL)

The Angels need pitching, but they won't rush Lackey or Santana back. Mike Scioscia insists that no matter what Lackey does in his Triple-A rehab start today, he'll make at least one more Salt Lake start, and perhaps two, before returning to Anaheim. Lackey has shown no problems with his velocity or command during the rehab, but facing Triple-A hitters will be a big step forward, one that many in the AL West should be watching closely. Santana is ahead of Lackey in some ways, making his first rehab start yesterday, but his was in High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He hit his limit of 60 pitches in the fifth, showing good command and his normal velocity, topping out at 94 mph. Both pitchers could be back as soon as late next week, assuming they recover normally from their starts.

Quick Cuts: Josh Hamilton is throwing for the first time since his intracostal strain. He's expected to start swinging a bat later this week. ... Rocco Baldelli will begin a rehab assignment with Pawtucket today. His hamstring appears to be ready to allow him to return to right field. ... Julio Lugo is still having some issues with his knee, mostly in the field with sudden stops. ... Ken Griffey Jr. missed Monday's game with colitis. Griffey told reporters that this usually just takes a few days to clear up. .... Tom Glavine threw without pain over the weekend, and he'll take his rehab to 'the next level' over the next ten days. ... Speaking of being out at the Indianapolis game, I caught up with both old friend Scott McCauley, who's not only calling the games, but blogging about them, and with reader Jim Haug. It's hard to go wrong with a view like this.

Related Content:  Back,  The Who

44 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Alex Schwartz

Any thoughts on Jorge Posada?

May 05, 2009 09:12 AM
rating: 0
 
dianagram

Other than that the game should have never been played last night, and given that it WAS played, Posada's already tender hammy should have been given the night off totally.

May 05, 2009 09:30 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Not really - happened so late that it's near impossible to follow, then he's headed for MRI. Waiting on that.

May 05, 2009 10:19 AM
 
Alex Schwartz

Just heard that WFAN (NY Sports Radio) announced he's headed for the DL. Interested in your take whenever you hear something concrete. I trust you more than I trust WFAN.

May 05, 2009 10:40 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

DL -- minimum or thereabouts.

May 05, 2009 14:49 PM
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

And I really need to find a way to cross-post my Twitter updates over here ... any one have ideas?

May 05, 2009 14:50 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Weld an intern to your laptop.

May 05, 2009 19:28 PM
rating: 2
 
BrettG

And if you need another reason to love Albert Pujols, notice that Pujols is one of the first players out there for his teammate.

May 05, 2009 09:18 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Don't forget what he did for Juan Encarnacion with his devastating injury.

May 05, 2009 14:50 PM
 
fishtaco

Your suggestion that the finger be pointed at Ricciardi is simply shoddy journalism, Will. You of all people should be aware of the following:

1. Romero hurt himself sneezing for crying out loud

2. Ryan had T.J. 2 years ago but BP wrote at the time he was signed that his awful mechanics would lead to an injury down the road. Now this is Ricciardi's fault?

3. McGowan had already blown out his arm in the minors (before JP's tenure, IIRC) so seeing him hurt again was hardly a surprise.

4. Burnett was fragile both before and during his time as a Blue Jay.

5. The Jays have been quite cautious with pitcher workloads for years. Young pitchers rarely make a huge jump in innings and almost none bar Halladay exceed 100 pitches.

You simply say, the Jays have constantly had arm problems, ergo, the front office must be to blame. Why don't you try supporting your argument rather than simply saying A must be responsible for B? You point at "organizational philosophy", so why don't you tell us exactly how and why the front office philosophy has specifically lead to most of these injuries? Go ahead, Will, we're waiting.

May 05, 2009 09:26 AM
rating: 0
 
fishtaco

Furthermore, by your same logic you should be blaming Gord Ash since all the top arms developed under him - Halladay, Carpenter, Escobar, Koch - all have had arm problems at one time or another too.

May 05, 2009 09:28 AM
rating: -3
 
Clonod

1. This is far from Romero's first injury.

2. Kind of Will's point. He was a severe injury risk and Ricciardi signed him anyway.

4. See #2.

5. Will doesn't seem to be talking about workloads.

He didn't say "A must be responsible for B". He said it might. And given the Jays tendency to pick up fragile pitchers, I'm inclined to agree.

May 05, 2009 09:45 AM
rating: 1
 
fishtaco

But he just wasn't saying the Jays pick up fragile pitchers. He said the injuries affect both homegrown and imported hurlers and suggests it's the fault of the front office but never says why. If you want to rule out workload, I ask what is Will suggesting is the cause other some mystical evil power of the guy with the big nose and New England accent?

May 05, 2009 09:57 AM
rating: -3
 
Clonod

Will, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems you're saying the Jays suck at identifying and avoiding pitchers who are going to get hurt.

May 05, 2009 10:14 AM
rating: -2
 
Richie

Asking Will to specify the possible ways the front office could be coming up short with its home-grown hurlers is a fair question, one I had myself.

"Go ahead, Will, we're waiting?"??? Who's the "we", Bub? That's an intentional insult, purposely snarky, and serving no other purpose. You're not asking Will suggest the cause, you're emotionally going off on him.

May 05, 2009 10:18 AM
rating: 3
 
Michael Bohn

I think you are missing Will's point.

Of course the front office has some blame here, it's just hard to pin point exactly where. Is it player evaluation that is to blame? Is it conditioning programs? Is it workload or the overall philosophy of how pitchers are used (including off day workouts)? Is it the approach they take to getting pitchers ready in Spring Training?

Furthermore, injuries will always effect homegrown and imported pitchers. If for no other reason than the trickle down effect it has on their workloads.

Since we are talking Toronto Blue Jays, I'll go out to a former VP of Operations and GM for them and get his take. If he responds promptly, I'll throw up his response.

May 05, 2009 10:19 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

What I said was that when you rule everything else out -- it's not the workload, the level, the free agent signings, the development patterns, etc -- it has to be either organizational philosophy or luck. I don't think anything is just luck.

May 05, 2009 10:25 AM
 
fishtaco

This is my point - and where I disagree with you. If it's not luck then what do you suggest is the the specific problem with the organizational philosophy? It's a bit like saying the recession is the fault of government policy but not identifying any particular policies or legislation. SportsIdiot, how can you blame the front office if you can't say why you blame them?

May 05, 2009 10:31 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

I don't know. I'm not privy to the inner workings of the Jays. I'm raising the question of what is it and you're right, I don't have the answer. Never said I did. Problem is that the Jays don't seem to either.

If you want to say luck, feel free, but I'm not going to say it's a little black cloud being mean to the Jays. I'd always rather assume that something can be fixed, even when I'm not sure what the specifics are.

May 05, 2009 10:42 AM
 
hokie94

There is something missing in this discussion, that for whatever injuries the Jays have had with their pitching they have gotten results correct? If they would have just identified 1 or 2 above avg hitters or really just a DH and 1B last year, they would have been the Rays right? Maybe they are taking a high risk/high reward approach with the pitching. I don't know.
I'd also say they got their money's worth from A.J. seeing as how the Yankees are now locked into all his problems and they got the big year. Then again I am no expert.

May 05, 2009 10:54 AM
rating: 2
 
John Carter

Right. Will's expertise is health, so's he's pointing something out about the Jays' health. However, to be fair to Ricciardi, he's has had as remarkable success in finding good pitching as he has had failure to keep them healthy.

As for luck vs. organizational philosophy, it could be a mixture of both.

May 05, 2009 12:46 PM
rating: -1
 
Iain Fyffe

This seems to me to be a "God of the gaps" argument. You don't know what it is, and you have decided it can't be luck, therefore it must be the GM. You don't have any evidence, you just have a lack of evidence (that any other specific thing is the cause). That doesn't make a strong argument.

Forced to choose between those two possibilities, I'd go with luck. But first I'd look for another answer.

May 05, 2009 15:11 PM
rating: 0
 
Michael Bohn

Simple. Everything starts and ends with the front office. From signing the injury prone players, to mitigating preseason conditioning, the front office is involved to a degree.

Let's look at what Dusty did to the Cubs when he was there. He used those pitchers like they had no tomorrow, and because of it some of them don't. Is that all Dusty's fault, or does some of the blame lie upstairs? I'll say it does if for no other fact than they didn't (to my knowledge) sit Dusty down and make him back off.

And what birkem3 said.

May 05, 2009 10:47 AM
rating: -1
 
Evan
(47)

It might be the organisational philosophy, but that might actually be a strength of the organisational philosophy.

For the last two years, Toronto has excelled with random pitchers they collected seemingly from nowhere, who then broke down (almost to a man). They could be doing this on purpose. If they're teaching these guys to throw in a way that is effective, but dangerous, that can be a winning strategy as long as those freely available pitchers continue to be freely available.

May 05, 2009 12:17 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Great point, Evan. Thing is, wouldn't we know this and wouldn't they not be signing expensive players? I know they haven't recently, but this is a big shift, or rather a shift back. My educated guess is that this isn't an organizational philosophy, but a lack of one. Being whipsawed from "win cheaply" to "big risk/big reward" and now back to whatever they're calling this strategy makes it tough to develop a team on a path.

May 05, 2009 20:12 PM
 
cbirkemeier

Why isn't signing injury-prone pitchers (points #2 and #4 in your post) Ricciardi's fault?

May 05, 2009 10:21 AM
rating: -1
 
fishtaco

That's fair enough, but really we're only talking about 2 pitchers in the case of free agents. Furthermore, both pitchers were not without their rewards. In Burnett's case he still averaged 27 starts a season with the Jays and Ryan has had 2 healthy, effective seasons in addition to the 2 when he has been hurt. And in the case of this year, there's still lots of opportunity to get healthy and contribute.

I don't see how anyone can attribute injuries caused by sneezing or getting hit by a batted ball (Halladay in 2005) can be anything other than bad luck.

May 05, 2009 11:21 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Not everyone who sneezes goes on the DL. Some argue (including one of the BP Annuals) that health is a skill, if it is a skill, as opposed to luck, then it is something that can be scouted for.

May 05, 2009 19:34 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

And does anyone really believe the sneezing story?

May 05, 2009 20:13 PM
 
Michael Bohn

Well, when I was younger and in much better shape, I once threw my back picking a towel up off of the floor. So yeah, I can believe the sneeze thing even if I don't want to or logic tells me otherwise.

May 06, 2009 05:19 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Many athletes, though, seem to recover from injuries better/faster than us "normal" people. It's almost like something out of the movie "Unbreakable". I've had friends who had an arthoscopic surgery on their knee and aren't recovered for two to three months, yet if an athlete gets their knees scoped, they're back in 15 days. Now, some athletes could be more susceptible to injury or recover from them like an average joe, but compared to other athletes, their recovery rate is actually very poor. In other words, not all athletes that sneeze throw their backs to the point they are injured and either health, or the ability of a team to manage a player's health, should be something that can be analyzed on more than an anecdotal level.

May 06, 2009 07:22 AM
rating: 1
 
Michael Bohn

Good stuff, Oleoay.

May 06, 2009 07:40 AM
rating: 0
 
Evan
(47)

I knew a guy who sneezed so hard he crashed his car.

Does that count as a sneezing injury?

May 06, 2009 10:17 AM
rating: 0
 
JayhawkBill

The loss of Kevin Youkilis does hurt the Red Sox badly. Youk holds together the infield defense by being both a solid first baseman and the most-capable backup to Mike Lowell at third base.

Still, I don't think that Boston would even consider using David Ortiz at first base in anything but an interleague game without a DH. Jeff Bailey is an adequate first baseman, and Terry Francona seems to like giving him playing time, so I'd expect to see Jeff Bailey getting starts at first base. If Youk were put on the DL, I'd expect to see Chris Carter back with the team for a platoon arrangement at first base. Carter has a bad defensive reputation, but he's done much better defensively since leaving the Diamondbacks organization, and I'd expect him to be, if not a great defender, better than David Ortiz with his glove work.

May 05, 2009 09:41 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Agree. What I'm saying with Ortiz is that Bailey is also the #1 backup at nearly every other IF position right now, esp if Lugo's knee becomes more of an issue. Lowell's going to need his normal days off, so Ortiz almost has to become an option at some point absent Kotsay's return or a bigger move, which I agree could be Carter or even a Lars Anderson cameo.

May 05, 2009 10:39 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Zambrano's hamstring injury might be a tad bit more problematic. He has had issues with minor strains, dehydration, and I believe potassium levels over the last few years. He had also appeared as a hitter four games in a row, which might have caused some additional stress on his body.

May 05, 2009 09:43 AM
rating: 0
 
sandriola

Do you have any word on how serious Carlos Guillen's shoulder injury is?

May 05, 2009 15:19 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

SHould have it for tomorrow's UTK

May 05, 2009 20:13 PM
 
camram003

How long will Kuo be out? I'm in a holds league and I need to know if I need to hold onto him or not. He seems to have a bad history of elbow problems.

May 05, 2009 19:42 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

No, but you're right, doesn't look good. Too early to tell with swelling in there. Have to see how he responds to treatment. I'd take a look at what else is available.

May 05, 2009 20:12 PM
 
JC

Any word on Pronk's visit to Mr. Andrews?

May 05, 2009 22:20 PM
rating: 0
 
Peter Hood

Will,

While I don't want to re-open the TOR organization debate, I do feel that your comment about the organization was too open-ended. It "pointed a finger of blame" without stipulating how or what the organization did to create or aggravate the problem. It was "luck or something the organization did" and since you don't want to subscribe to "bad luck", ergo the team must have done something wrong - even if you've no clue what that might be.

I'll adopt Occam's Razor here.

Anyway, to get to me topic of real interest - Ben Sheets.

Is there any further information/updates on his status in terms of how his recovery is proceeding and when he could be expected to begin pitching?

May 06, 2009 05:29 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Pitchers hurt = something wrong.
It's up to the Jays to figure out what. I'm *supposed* to point. That's what the media does, remember?

May 06, 2009 05:44 AM
 
agentsteel53

Watch Ricky Hatton's arms as he's knocked out in Sunday's fight against Manny Pacquiao for comparison.

and somehow boxing is maintained to be a legitimate sport ...

May 07, 2009 02:06 AM
rating: -1
 
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