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May 7, 2009

Under The Knife

Lingering Issues

by Will Carroll

Travis Hafner (20 DXL)
It took an extra day due to flights, the vagaries of press availability, and the internal discussions that the Indians always have about any issue, but the news about Pronk's shoulder is good. He saw James Andrews on Monday and he thinks that the soreness and weakness in his shoulder is typical after the type of surgery that Hafner had. The concern remains that the stamina and crepitus in Hafner's shoulder won't allow him to play all season without problems like this. The natural solution will be a strengthening-and-conditioning program. The Indians' training staff is one of the best in the game, so if anyone can keep him healthy, it's them, especially with their intimate knowledge of the situation. Hafner is likely to miss a bit more than just the minimum, but he should be back to level quickly thereafter.

Derrek Lee (1 DXL)
The Cubs have had their share of injuries over the past few weeks, but have come out OK, if still chasing the Cardinals. One that remains a cause for concern has been Lee's neck problem, especially the erratic, on/off nature of the injury. Lee has a bulging cervical disc that only causes pain occasionally. Those of you out there that have recurrent neck pain-one of the most common injuries in the American workplace-know that this is quite painful and tough to treat, even surgically. Lee is right in saying that it's very unlikely that he'll go to the DL, but it's also likely that he's in some sort of pain/spasm cycle that's getting quicker. He's missed a day in two consecutive weeks and this could cost him more days here and there. The Cubs can deal with that, but the unpredictability involved makes managing tougher for Lou Piniella, as he's a guy who likes to plan out his players' offdays.

Scott Proctor (90 DXL)
Proctor is headed to see Dr. Andrews, and while, as you read above, that's not always bad, in this case it's probably bad. Used hard for years by Joe Torre, Proctor just hasn't been the same over the last couple of years, which makes him human. I always think back to Scott Sullivan, who was the first pitcher I noticed that was good for a few years of heavy use, only to then seem to run into a wall. The thing is, Sullivan was good for five years, which is more than most players are ever good for. Proctor's heavy usage didn't last as long and he was only good that one year, but until we figure out the multiplier for relief innings or develop a fatigue model that works without big needles, we're going to see this over and over again.

Dioner Navarro (0 DXL)
Navarro was seen wearing a brace on his wrist, both at bat and in the field. Given his early-season struggles, but now seeing his last two nights of decent hitting, it's entirely possible that he's been dealing with some kind of wrist problem. It's unclear when the wrist brace was first worn and if it has anything to do with his better performance in the last two games, but it's certainly notable. Wrist injuries often present as a drop in power and loss of bat control, something his stats show, especially the 16:1 K/BB ratio that stands in stark contrast to last season's 49:34. I'll continue digging to find out more.

Freddy Sanchez (0 DXL)
The hilarious How I Met Your Mother reminded us of how great Murtaugh was earlier this season. Now Freddy Sanchez is trying to get the part of Riggs in the remake. Sanchez has a recurrent shoulder problem that's often described as "popping out." That reads like a dislocation, but it's actually just a subluxation that's significant enough that Sanchez can feel the ball of the joint moving in the shoulder. There's really no additional damage and in most cases no pain; the ligaments and tendons have stretched previously, allowing the "play" in the joint that's been reported. There's no significant loss of function, strength, or range of motion here, so it's just a quirk. It does make him susceptible to a bigger injury, but not by as much as you'd think.

Kevin Youkilis (4 DXL)
Jacoby Ellsbury (1 DXL)

The Red Sox played it cautious with two of their key players and their sore muscles on Wednesday, as Youkilis and Ellsbury both sat in hopes that what the team calls mild muscle strains will heal up. Youkilis' oblique is likely to keep him out until the weekend, but sources say that the mild strain is only painful in extreme rotation, so it's only the swing that worries them. They're hoping that a couple of days will make even that less of an issue. With Ellsbury, the weather is as much an issue as the hamstring. It's hard to argue with the caution, given the early emphasis this season on speed. Ellsbury is expected back, though again, the game conditions will dictate some of this.

Andrew Miller (25 DXL)
I mentioned last week that Miller was taking injections not unlike those that Xavier Nady was getting. Miller's oblique has been treated with PRP in the same way that others have, but with muscles, there's a bigger track record for this form of prolotherapy. Miller's injury was initially described as "significant," but while he's slightly behind the aggressive schedule that would have had him back at the minimum (one I scoffed at), he is only slightly behind. He threw 60 pitches in a rehab start in A-ball on Wednesday with no problem, and he will make one more start early next week, likely at Double-A, before returning to the Marlins. It's unclear whether he'll return to the rotation or go to the pen, though most think the Marlins will have him resume his starting role.

Alex Rodriguez (30 DXL)
A-Rod slid, crossing the final hurdle in his rehab from hip surgery. Sources continue to insist that Rodriguez is ticketed for a trip to Baltimore and should start tomorrow, though the team refuses to confirm that timetable. The slide, I'm told, could have happened at any time over the last week, but that "it just never came up in a game." Rodriguez has had no pain and only routine soreness in coming back. Another source told me that the only concern the Yankees have had so far is that Rodriguez has had no problem whatsoever. "I'd say 'it's not natural' if I didn't realize what that sounded like," he said, though he acknowledged that Rodriguez's recovery is no more astounding than that of Chase Utley or the reported progress of Alex Gordon. Rodriguez missed my May 1 target, but not because he couldn't have played then.

Quick Cuts: Late word arrives that Oliver Perez is now headed to the DL; the official diagnosis is patellar tendonitis. Jon Niese will replace him in the rotation. ... Rich Harden is healthy, pitching efficiently, and showing mid-90s velocity. ... Ryan Doumit is still at least six weeks away from a return. ... The A's haven't decided yet whether Brett Anderson will need to go on the DL due to a blister; Sean Gallagher will take his place in the rotation next time out. ... Tony Clark heads to the DL with a broken wrist. I don't need to tell you how bad that is for a guy with his skill set, do I? ... Brian Schneider is expected to start a rehab stint early next week, after missing a month with a calf strain. ... Strain is muscle, sprain is ligament; Jeremy Hellickson has a mild rotator cuff strain. ... Get well soon, Jerry.

Related Content:  Broken Wrist

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