June 26, 2009
Under The Knife
Geovany Soto (0 DXL)
Carrie Muskat had the news that Soto was smoking some of the good stuff this offseason. It's bad luck, in that marijuana has a very short detectable period, and that he was subject to WADA-level testing once he was placed on the WBC roster. He's been suspended from international competition for two years, meaning he's out for the Venezuelan tandem luge in Vancouver. There are no repercussions at the MLB level. It surprised me more that people thought that it would cost him much of anything. Marijuana is tested for, but it's a "drug of abuse" that has a special status in the Joint Drug Agreement (PDF link). If you'll go to Page 17, section F, you'll see that there's a progressive financial penalty, installation into the "Administrative Track" (which means more frequent testing), but no suspension. Not ever. I know of one player that's been caught more than five times. This is the negotiated testing agreement, one that's not significantly different than the "for cause" testing in the NFL and NBA. At a time where the marijuana penalties are being debated, this isn't an issue that baseball wants to see brought into the light. For those wondering about minor league suspensions for pot-yes, there are different rules down there where the Commissioner can make edicts.
Xavier Nady (160 DXL)
"It could be the worst-case scenario." That's what Brian Cashman told the media after talking with people in Scranton. Nady had some sort of setback with his elbow after a throw. He evidently pulled himself from the game and seemed to know that something had gone badly wrong. He's headed back for tests and consultations, but Cashman's worst-case scenario is that the UCL is ruptured and that Nady may now need Tommy John surgery. If so, he's done for the season and should be back in time for spring training next year. In the longer term, he should be fine, and even the timing isn't that terrible. The downside is that he needs surgery. For the Yankees, the insistence that he play the outfield seems to have worked against them. Nady doesn't have enough of a statistical record this year to make valid comparisons, but Hideki Matsui isn't exactly lighting the world on fire at DH, and he often needs rest due to his bad knees. It's also a bad sign for the use of PRP, which is becoming more common, though this use was nothing if not experimental.
CC Sabathia (0 DXL)
The Yankees did receive good news on Sabathia. The Big Man had a mound session on Wednesday and felt good both during and after. There's always the concern that we may have what one advisor calls a "100 percent injury"-one in which symptoms don't exhibit until the injury is put under the full stress of a game situation. Sabathia has had minor shoulder problems before, and he dealt with them well. This seems to be something that he understood and handled properly, and given his contract and value to the team, handling this (or any injury) in a conservative manner for the first half of his deal makes perfect sense. While we'll have to watch Sabathia for the next couple of outings for any sign that the shoulder is still tight or that he's altered his mechanics, it's more likely that Sabathia will be worth watching for what comes off the mound rather than what's happening on it.
Josh Hamilton (30 DXL)
It looks as if Hamilton's issue with "slow healing"-one that is complicated by the byzantine rules of the Rule 5 draft-is as much a myth as anything in the Hamilton canon. Of course, coming back this quickly from abdominal surgery could be another one for the inevitable biographical movie. He's doing well, running and taking swings, but if you read the reports it goes a bit deeper than Hamilton's quotes. Everyone else seems a little more cautious about the return, which is fitting when speaking about someone who keeps running into walls. While the return next week is possible, it doesn't seem probable. What does seem plausible is that Hamilton will be back by the All-Star break, which was the original goal. He shouldn't have any significant issues at that time; this kind of abdominal surgery is relatively minor and has a good record of return. The only real question is how long it takes him to get back in sync, and if having this problem corrected will help him find his power stroke.
Roy Halladay (20 DXL)
Halladay has one final bullpen test, and he'll come off of the DL if he gets past today's session with no further physical problems. That would put him on the mound on Monday, but the team is still very cautious, with Cito Gaston telling the media that he wouldn't hesitate to put Scott Richmond out there on instead. Halladay's groin strain seems to be healing normally, so I'm not sure where Gaston's dubiety is coming from here. With all of the pitching injuries this team is dealing with, maybe Gaston is just gun shy, realizing that he's running out of bullets, or maybe, having decided that Halladay won't hit the trade market, they're willing to be more cautious. Having a healthy Halladay on the mound covers up a lot of issues, and I fully expect him to be out there next week.
Erik Bedard (20 DXL)
Yuniesky Betancourt (25 DXL)
The Mariners are like the Blue Jays in some ways. They began the season hot, a combination of some smart team construction by the new front office, smart managing by Don Wakamatsu, and some scheduling luck. It was the favorable scheduling that really propelled the Jays, as they have few of the other positive trends that are going for Seattle. The organizational consciousness that allows the Mariners to play well while rebuilding is interesting stylistically, but overall, everyone knows that this is a team that wants to deal Bedard. While most think his DL stint hurts his value, it seems to me to be smart asset management. The team protected him, and they now hope to have him back out on the mound, increasing his value in July when teams will begin to become desperate, especially in this trade market. He's headed for a simulated game early next week, and he could be back out on the mound before the All-Star break. The news isn't as good for Betancourt, who was already having issues on the field. Now, it looks as if a strained hamstring will send him to the DL. Don't be surprised if the rehab on this one is allowed to drag a little.
Eric Byrnes (50 DXL)
Byrnes' contract is going to be one of those things we all talk about when we discuss the extent to which the Diamondbacks have fallen on hard times. Since signing, he's been decent enough when he's been able to play, but once again, he's not going to play enough to approximate that value. He has a fractured hand, the result of a pitch that got away and went way inside. (Check the second inning.) I'll just ask you to mentally play my rant on hand protection for hitters now, and then move on. Byrnes will require surgery to fixate the fracture, which is on the fifth metacarpal on his left hand, the very outside or "knife edge" of the hand. He'll miss about six weeks with this, and he should be able to come back without trouble. Chris Young is expected back from his groin issue and should take over Byrnes' at-bats.
Antonio Bastardo (21 DXL)
I'm sorry. No matter how good he is, every time Bastardo pitches, I either think of this guy or this guy. I realize it's juvenile on one side and esoteric on the other, but that's just who I am. Bastardo has pitched well enough to keep the Phillies hanging around, but yesterday something went wrong in his shoulder. The ATC came out, and he didn't even try throwing another pitch, as if he knew something was wrong. He wasn't in any apparent pain, and in the highlights that I saw, there is no real sudden event where he grabs at it or even has a noticeable reaction. His velocity was down, and that matches up well with the early diagnosis of a shoulder strain. I don't know his motion well enough to say that his mechanics seemed changed. He does appear to be headed to the DL, but the Phillies will have him undergo tests before they do that. They have a few days to figure out who will take Bastardo's next start, and maybe his roster spot.
Quick Cuts: Jed Lowrie's wrist is fine, but he got hit by a pitch and has a stiff knee as a result, holding up his comeback. ... John Smoltz's debut wasn't terrible because of health. He just stunk. ... Koji Uehara is headed to meet with specialists who will take a look at his elbow. He's had issues with it before; the interesting thing to note is that in Japan they made him a closer because of it. ... Brett Anderson will be pushed back. The A's young pitchers seem to be hitting a physical wall. ... Kenji Johjima is expected back off of the DL soon. ... Nick Punto had an MRI on his ribcage that showed no structural damage. ... Asdrubal Cabrera could be back this weekend for the Tribe. ... Jason Isringhausen had his TJ completed on Tuesday and will begin the rehab process. ... J.P Ricciardi is saying out loud that Dustin McGowan may never pitch again. Given his injury history, that's entirely possible, but I don't know why Ricciardi would kick McGowan while he's down like that.