May 21, 2009
Under The Knife
Read and React
Chris Carpenter (45 DXL)
Pick on newspapers and "mainstream media" all you want; for this guy, all I want is smart baseball coverage that tells me or teaches me. There are a lot of really good writers out there, but does St. Louis have the best mix? It's a baseball-mad town to begin with, but with guys like Bernie Miklasz, Joe Strauss, Derrick Goold, and Matthew Leach, they're certainly one of if not the best. Of course, that makes my job really hard—those guys get to injury news quickly. With Carpenter coming back from his oblique strain last night, it just made sense to wait to see what they said. Goold noted, "Carpenter didn't have pinpoint command (as expected) but he had his usual exceptional stuff, and that's plenty when it's him." Leach compared Carpenter to Nook LaLoosh in his story, saying he "announced his presence with authority", starting off with a 94 mph fastball. All in all, that sums it up—he looked healthy and effective with no noticeable mechanical changes. Stamina remains the only negative, which is to be expected given his lack of rehab starts. The only worry now is how he recovers, which seems to be normal.
Jose Reyes (15 DXL)
Remember a couple of years ago, when the worry was that Reyes might never keep himself healthy enough to live up to his potential? He was constantly battling tight hamstrings, but work with some of baseball's best trainers and therapists, such as Vern Gambetta, have made that just a faded memory. With his latest issues with his calf and Reyes back in the lineup despite not being 100 percent, allow me to refresh your memory a bit; maybe Jerry Manuel wasn't around then, but Reyes' hamstrings are still a source of concern, with the shortstop putting in long hours stretching during the season. Putting him out on the field with a gimpy calf is short-sighted, raising the possibility of a cascade injury that could start the cycle of problems with his hamstrings all over again. The aggravation of his calf problem looks as if it will send him to the DL, and the time he missed could have and should have been avoided.
David Ortiz (0 DXL)
It only took 149 at-bats and that many gallons of ink and pixels spilled and more trying to figure out Ortiz's homerless streak. That's not to say there's nothing wrong, but this column is about physical issues. Right now, both before and after the home run, there is no evidence that there's anything physically wrong with him. I said evidence; since there's plenty of speculation. With wrist and shoulder problems in his near-term history, it's reasonable speculation. Ortiz now has as many home runs as Russ Ortiz, so the talk about "Papi's back!" will end up as overblown as the talk about his being gone in the first place. The solution for the absence of evidence isn't speculation, it's better information. Someday we'll know bat speed and path, plus other data, but for now I'll ask all the PFX gurus: Is Ortiz being pitched to differently? If there's a hole in his swing, where is it, and how are pitchers getting there and not missing?
Edinson Volquez (6 DXL)
Joey Votto (10 DXL)
Volquez left his last start with tightness in his lower back that was described by some sources as spasm, but a source I trust said it was more of a "steady-state soreness" than true spasm. The downside is that the same problem prevented Volquez from getting through his side work on Wednesday, leaving his Saturday start in doubt. He told reporters that he wasn't sure he could go, though the Reds have yet to comment on the possibility, as is normal. The Reds were already adjusting their rotation, so this could force some kind of move, especially since they're already playing a man down with Votto out. There's still no word on what, if anything, was found by the additional testing on Votto, either at the Scripps Clinic or back in Cincinnati with the Reds' doctors. Reds fans are starting to invoke Nick Esasky's similar-seeming problems; we can only hope that's not it.
Josh Hamilton (0 DXL)
Hamilton's season continues to be interrupted by walls. His groin strain, suffered while running before running into a wall, is going to have him out through the weekend, and perhaps beyond. The team doesn't seem to think that he'll need to go onto the DL, but he will be limited to pinch-hitting for a couple of days, and then likely to DH for a couple beyond that. It's not how he wanted to spend his 29th birthday, but with all of his physical talent, there's an element of worry that comes into play given his age, unique career path, and his ability to stay healthy. His season with the Reds is tough to judge due to the vagaries of the DL and his status as a Rule 5 guy, but in his few seasons with the Rangers, he's alternated between injured, fatigued, and insanely productive. How much of the latter they get is going to be a big challenge not only for trainer Jamey Reed and his staff, but also for Ron Washington.
Joakim Soria (45 DXL)
I need some sort of acronym or codeword for that boring part of a rehab where nothing is happening and there's nothing to report. It wouldn't stop the e-mails and calls from coming, so I need some sort of insta-response. NNIGN? Doesn't have the right ring to it. Twilight Zone? Maybe. I'm sure you'll have better suggestions. Whatever we call it, Soria is just coming out of it. At best, the Royals' closer is still a couple of weeks away from a return, but at least he's throwing. He had a flat-ground session—what you and I used to call 'playing catch'—on Wednesday as part of his progression back. He's definitely going to throw some in the minors before returning, but his progress between now and those rehab outings will determine how long that stint is. The shoulder remains a very worrisome issue, so don't be surprised to see this going a little slower than expected.
Elijah Dukes (21 DXL)
The timeline for Dukes has me confused. He strained his hamstring, took a day off, tried to play, and re-injured it. I even understand taking a day to see how it responded to treatment; what I don't understand is taking three days to do it. It was really only one game in "baseball time" but while it's always good to wait and see, there wasn't much doubt here. Dukes was in clear pain with a recurrent hamstring injury, and the delay didn't serve him or the Nats in any real way. It's small things like this, the lack of detail work, that make me wonder where the real breakdown in this organization is. The problem is that they don't seem to know or even notice at times. Dukes will miss time beyond the minimum, but not too much.
Carlos Silva (130 DXL)
Any suggestions that the Mariners were less than truthful about Silva needing a spot on the DL were wrong. It's not just valid, it's bad. Silva has... well, pretty much everything wrong. There's an impingement, a frayed rotator cuff, and likely some labrum damage, though they won't be sure until they get a camera into his shoulder. Word is that Dr. David Altchek has been consulted, and that Silva will make a decision on a surgeon sometime within the next ten days. No matter how extensive the surgery winds up being, it is going to end his season and possibly his career, and with two years remaining on that already-onerous contract.
Stephen Strasburg (0 DXL)
The tweets came fast and furious, followed by seventeen texts from fans and scouts: "Stephen Strasburg left the game early!" The #1 pick-elect had some cramping, mostly in his back, during an inning, but some massage and fluids got him back. The original speculation based on his reaction was an oblique strain. Some still think that's what they saw, but in the absence of video, it's hard for me to do more than note this. Strasburg is expected to be fine and make his next start, but one of the many scouts in attendance said that Strasburg looked tired. "It's more fatigue than the heat," he told me, openly wondering if the Nationals will even have the option of deciding whether to get him into the majors this season.
Quick Cuts: Mike Hampton cut his finger on a soap dispenser and could miss his scheduled Sunday start. I'd say only Hampton could do this, but you know Jayson Stark has ten stories that are better. ... Frank Francisco made it through his simulated game with no issues and will be activated Friday. ... Kevin Youkilis looked OK in his comeback, going 3-for-5. ... I learned today that the term for how my column runs is "regular" if this was a newspaper; I'd always said "near-daily." ... Was Wednesday's win enough for Phil Hughes to hold his rotation spot? Probably not, but why can't Hughes go to the pen for that role everyone says Joba Chamberlain should be in? ... Do we have to put "Don't Stop Believin'" in the discussion for best rock song? Yeah, I watched Glee. ... Jorge Posada thinks he'll be back late next week; sources tell me that might be pushing it. ... "A little curious"? How about incompetent?