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July 2, 2009

Under The Knife

Tweaks and Updates

by Will Carroll

Brandon Webb (160 DXL)
Steve Gilbert got the scoop that Webb will not have surgery-yet. After consulting with several doctors about his shoulder and the possible labrum tear, the decision was made to continue with a strengthening program designed by Kevin Wilk. In fact, Webb will stay in Birmingham to rehab under Wilk's direction, with the blessing of Ken Crenshaw, the D'backs' head trainer. The key here is that Webb is denying that there's any problem with the labrum. Hearing things from a player is always dangerous, so let's assume that the labrum isn't the only problem, and that the rotator cuff weakness is the largest issue here. While Wilk's program should help, I'm still not convinced that Webb can do more in the next few weeks than he did in the last few months. The idea that he'll be able to come back in September is still only a hope, not a certainty. We won't have any idea for the next few weeks and likely no new guidance on a timeline until he starts throwing again towards the end of the month.

Justin Morneau (1 DXL)
Few remember that Morneau's biggest issue in the minor leagues was staying healthy. On one of the "lost episodes" of BPR, he talked about all of the issues he had, and how much he wanted to get back to catching. (Now there's an interesting idea for keeping Joe Mauer fresh.) Morneau's been very healthy during his time in Minnesota, though he did leave Wednesday's game with a hamstring strain. The strain was originally thought to be a groin problem, and is very high on the back of his leg, towards the inside. It's not a good location, and Morneau didn't just injure it on the stretch Wednesday night. Instead, he admitted that he's been "feeling it" to Kelly Thesier for almost a week. The team thinks he'll be back on Friday after Thursday's day off, but watch to see if the team's a bit cautious.

Mark DeRosa (4 DXL)
Troy Glaus (120 DXL)

The Cards just brought DeRosa over for his positional flexibility and his hitting, with Tony La Russa citing him as protection for Albert Pujols. (Perhaps more accurately, it seems DeRosa could be the player asked to drive Pujols in from first base, where more and more teams seem to be putting him.) However, for the time being the team has to work around DeRosa after he strained a tendon in his wrist. It's very mild, but any wrist injury is worrisome for hitters, especially one the team is hoping will be hitting for power. The Cards expect DeRosa back over the weekend, but don't be surprised if they get a bit cautious with him, either slowing down his return or giving him some offdays. The Cards did get some interesting news from Arizona, where Glaus has been rehabbing: he has made "extreme progress" according to one source, and is now just weeks away from a rehab assignment. I'm told that while no one expects Glaus to hold together in the long term, he could be a "difference-maker" in St Louis in "short bursts." The Cards are expected to send Glaus to Florida in the coming days, and as observers get a look at him, we'll have a better handle on what he might be able to do, and when.

Gil Meche (0 DXL)
Meche himself said that the key to look for coming off of his case of "dead arm" was his velocity. He stated that the difference between a hit and a foul was, for him, a matter of a couple of miles per hour. On that level, Meche succeeded, touching 95 all the way to his 120th pitch in six innings of work. The problem is that a guy coming off a possible injury was allowed to go that deep. Yes, I advocate the Earl Weaver approach of "the hitters will tell you when a pitcher is tired," but common sense should apply as well. He lacked control and got no help from his fielders, so while he did make it through with what could be deemed improved stuff, the PAP-related principle is that fatigue shows up in the next few starts. That's what I'm worried about now.

Adrian Beltre (60 DXL)
Beltre had his shoulder surgery, and like most, it was a success. The big piece of information that came out was that there was no associated damage to the bone spurs, meaning that they were not rubbing too much on anything structural. The lack of damage could have him back sooner than expected, but we're talking about a couple of weeks' difference. That would put him back in a Mariners uniform in late August or early September, which makes it less likely that they would just shut him down, though the team's record is going to mean a lot about what they decide to do at that point.

Jed Lowrie (90 DXL)
The Red Sox continue to wait for Lowrie to come back, as the BP Daily Roundtable discussed this week. The downside is that the wrist issue he was rehabbing isn't the hold-up now, instead it's the slow-healing knee issue that Lowrie's been dealing with since getting plunked more than a week ago. He's headed to see a specialist to check on what's been variously called a contusion and muscle weakness to find out why the issue has persisted. Once that's cleared up, he's still going to need some swings to get his timing back and to make sure that the wrist injury isn't also lingering.

Adrian Gonzalez (0 DXL)
The video on MLB.com was unbelievable on this, as Gonzalez hit a triple and then called for the trainer. The early speculation from the TV guys was that he'd hurt his knee sliding, but give credit to the camera man who got a great closeup of Gonzalez pointing into the muscle just above his knee. After the game, Gonzalez and the team confirmed that he had a mild strain there, and that it tightened up as he stood, not as a result of the slide. Gonzalez got treatment and was back in action yesterday; it shouldn't be much of an issue going forward.

Aramis Ramirez (60 DXL)
The schedule helps Ramirez with his rehab. While he was always ticketed for a short minor league stint, having the Peoria Chiefs coming to suburban Chicago (Kane County) made the decision easy; it's like the Cubs have a Frisco or Gwinnett for the weekend. Ramirez has had no issues so far with the shoulder during a couple days of batting practice, and the team doesn't anticipate him having any problems with real game action either. I'm told that the shoulder is stable and nearly back to 100 percent with strength, though there's always the risk that his inherent laxity in both shoulders could cause a recurrence. That assumes the same kind of circumstances that caused this, which amounts to nothing more than bad luck. If all goes well, Ramirez will be back in the Cubs' lineup on Monday.

Josh Hamilton (25 DXL)
"I stole third so the media wouldn't think there was anything wrong with me." Point taken, Josh. Hamilton's one-game stint with Double-A Frisco will lead him to a couple of games with Triple-A Oklahoma City; assuming all goes well there, he'll be in Arlington by the weekend. The concern really isn't running, but hitting. The abdominal muscle repair is going to be taxed by the hard rotation that's necessary to hit the ball, especially with as much force as Hamilton does it with. Across the league, these types of repairs have held up, but as always, Hamilton is an extreme case.

Quick Cuts: There's late word that Torii Hunter reacted last night to what appeared to e a groin strain, but that he stayed in; keep your eye on this. ... Mike Aviles had Tommy John surgery and should be ready for spring training as his next stop. ... Yankees prospect George Kontos is done for the year and much of the '10 campaign, as he'll need Tommy John surgery. ... Mike Lowell wants the hip surgery he and several other players have had to be known as 'Mike Lowell surgery.' Sure, Mike. Just remember, it has to be successful for us to name it for you. ... Vicente Padilla's next start has been pushed back as a precaution, as he's got some shoulder stiffness. ... Cliff Floyd evidently underwent shoulder surgery two weeks ago to fix a torn labrum. ... Jose Molina is close to a return, meaning the Yankees are close to a tough roster decision. ... Ian Snell is apparently battling depression, in a situation that sounds similar to that of Khalil Greene. Memphis Ballpark Event! Mark August 20th on your schedule; more details soon.

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