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July 10, 2009

Under The Knife

Met-astrophe?

by Will Carroll

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Hanley Ramirez (5 DXL)
The Marlins are either positive that Ramirez's hip is fine, or they just don't understand how the DL works. All evidence points to the former after the team used Ramirez as a pinch-hitter in Thursday's game, wiping out the possibility of a retroactive DL move. Ramirez went through a normal pre-game routine, even taking grounders, but he was once again held out of the lineup, the fifth start he's missed. The hip flexor strain continues to bother him. Sources tell me he's mostly bothered on the first step while his lateral movement "isn't so bad." The team thinks that he'll play this week, but they'll be cautious with him and think that the All-Star break will help him heal up. They fully expect him to be ready once games start up again next week, but with the continued 'minor' leg injuries, I'm curious whether the Marlins truly think this is a simple list of unconnected problems, or if there's some underlying cause that will crop up again sometime, in some similar way.

Fernando Martinez (30 DXL)
J.J. Putz (60 DXL)

Dear Mets fans: Step away from the ledge. Your pal, Will. That said, the news did get worse for the Mets, as they dropped Martinez onto the DL with a strained tendon behind his knee. He joins Jose Reyes there with a similar problem, one that's not unlike the issue that kept Kevin Garnett out of the playoffs for the Celtics. As with Reyes, there's no solid timeline for when he'll be back, since this is one of those issue that's so rare as to be poorly understood. While the injuries aren't identical, their similarity is troubling. One injury is bad luck, two is coincidence, and more than that is pattern. At two, there's a lot to be done on trying to figure out the why, but little is often found from that small a data set. The Mets are likely to take a very hard look at a lot of things this offseason; their conditioning program is going to be near the top of that list. To balance all the bad news, there is at least some good news on Putz, as he's a couple of weeks ahead of schedule after his surgery and could be back about the same time that Billy Wagner is ready. That could make for a solid bullpen, if there's anything left to save by then.

Torii Hunter (15 DXL)
I've determined that my epitaph is likely to be "a strain is a tear!" Once again, the confusion of terminology has come to confuse people. Hunter had an MRI on his adductor, which determined there was a Grade II strain. There, that's your proper description of the injury. More commonly, he has what gets called a "groin strain", which is less serious than a "groin tear." The word people are actually looking for with "tear" in that latter instance is "rupture," meaning that there has been a complete separation of muscle from muscle or tendon from bone. While both a Grade II and Grade III strains indicate tearing in the muscle, only the Grade III indicates rupture. Don't let the terminology fool you, though: Hunter's hurting, and the key fact here is that it's an aggravation of a chronic injury; as Hunter said, he's been "feeling it for about a month." He won't go blind, just to the DL unless there's rapid improvement.

Chipper Jones(7 DXL)
Yunel Escobar (5 DXL)

When Jones sits out, you know it's bad. It's almost a running joke here at UTK, the way he'll push through injuries or essentially write his own name into the lineup when he feels healthy enough to play. That a groin injury has kept him sidelined this week is telling in terms of the severity, but Jones can't get any rotation from either side of the plate, not just off the 'back leg' when hitting right-handed, and that has some worried that this is either a more significant strain or that he's got the type of labrum issue we've suddenly seen this year. Remember that just as every unknown can't be blamed on injury, we can't assume that every lingering groin strain isn't headed for FAIL. With the All-Star break coming up, the Braves are being cautious and perfectly willing to let Jones rest all the way through it. Keeping Jones off of the DL is going to be a bit tougher if Yunel Escobar is also sidelined, however, and Escobar came out of Thursday's game with severe lower back spasms. You have to watch the whole clip, but in the last shot included, Escobar does appear to be limping slightly and leaning, an indication that that big swing might be the source of the strain. That it tightened up so quickly isn't a good sign.

Mike Lowell (20 DXL)
Things are looking up for Lowell. He's doing well with 'baseball activities' after having fluid drained and Synvisc injected into his hip. He's not eligible to come off the DL for another week, so the progress projected forward would be solid. The Red Sox are not only working on getting him back, but keeping him back. Since they're in the dark as much as everyone else about how this injury and recovery from this procedure is supposed to go, the Sox are trying some creative solutions behind the scenes. While the details remain murky, one source told me that rehab guru Mike Reinold is "worth his weight in gold" to the Red Sox, and that his work with Lowell is "going to be worth a lot of ink in journals."

Javier Vazquez (5 DXL)
The Braves might consider hurting all their pitchers if they get the same results that Vazquez has had over the last month. That's because he's been pitching-and pitching well-with a strained lower abdomen. He'll miss his next start as the team uses the break to give him a little extra rest. How did he pitch with the injury? A major league pitching coach tells me that injuries can help: "It makes them think, which is usually bad, but as long as the pain isn't biting them, they'll focus on doing the little things-easy mechanics, not overthrowing, quick innings. It works out or they get hit hard." It's a counterintuitive point and certainly not recommended, but it does make some sense. What doesn't make sense is why those "little things" take an injury to get focused on. Vazquez shouldn't miss more than this start, but the strain is going to be there a while, for good or bad.

Quick Cuts: The Phillies are supposed to activate Raul Ibaez on Friday, but despite finishing his rehab without problems, they won't commit. ... Aubrey Huff doesn't think his groin strain is serious enough for him to go on the DL, but he could be out through the break. ... The Cubs will re-evaluate Geovany Soto today; expect the oblique strain to hold him out through the break, just to be safe side. ... Ryan Doumit is expected to have a few more rehab games in Triple-A, but should be back with the Pirates soon. There's a rumor that the Freddy Sanchez deal might be opening the roster spot for Doumit. ... Xavier Nady had his Tommy John surgery and should be ready for spring training. ... Corey Dawkins, ATC, does some great work here on the subject of BMI, workloads, and more. ... Orlando Hudson left Thursday's game after a pitch hit him in the knee. He wasn't hobbled after the game, so he shouldn't miss much time, if any. ... Cesar Izturis is back from an appendectomy and should be a cheap source of fantasy steals. ... Brandon Backe has a torn rotator cuff. Expect some fireworks as his agent heads for a fight with the Astros. ... I'm going to have to see more of this system that Alan Schwarz describes in yesterday's New York Times; the key for me is going to be positioning.

Related Content:  Groin

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

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cyborg

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that The Astros will be paying for Backe's medical costs. Are you referring to his release while hurt that his agent will fight with them over?

Jul 10, 2009 09:59 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Then it was settled. Good.

Jul 10, 2009 10:23 AM
 
dianagram

Soto has been DL'ed this morning, with Piniella quoted as saying Soto will miss a MONTH. Oy!

Jul 10, 2009 10:13 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

*shakes fist* Deadline!

Jul 10, 2009 10:24 AM
 
sbnirish77
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

As far as the Schwarz article, I've always be very skeptical of any of the advanced fielding metrics adopted as gospel here at BP and have commented that until we get someone to measure the movement of the ball and player in real time we won't have anything.

Seems that day is just around the corner ....

"A new camera and software system in its final testing phases will record the exact speed and location of the ball and every player on the field ..."

Jul 10, 2009 10:17 AM
rating: -4
 
morillos

The last line of your note on Torii Hunter is priceless. I'm dealing with a basketball-caused oblique strain, and I laughed so hard I hurt.

Jul 10, 2009 10:43 AM
rating: 3
 
frqtflyr

Will, I "own" Reyes in several leagues and needless to say, losing a first rounder, especially one expected to dominate a category, well, hurts like hell. I'm even more worried about 2 keeper leagues where I own him. I know there's no chance of getting "fair" return in a deal. But is there a chance this injury could linger, affecting his explosiveness or psychologically making him more tentative? Any concern that the Mets' coaching/training staff will play it too safe next year (assuming he doesn't return at full strength this season)? Given that they seemed to have overcome the injuries that plagued him early in his career, do you think they're now mismanaging their players' conditions? Thanks. Jordan

Jul 10, 2009 12:22 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

On Reyes, I have to think he can come back. This is less serious than the chronic hamstring problems at the start of his career.

Jul 10, 2009 13:28 PM
 
Brian Kopec

I've always thought, based on personal experience and various anecdotes from others, that a minor injury not impacting function could help improve focus and thus performance. I've even heard ex-ballplaying announcers mention this. Obviously it depends on the individual/sport/injury but I think there is definitely some truth in it.

Jul 10, 2009 12:57 PM
rating: 0
 
Hoff

Is the Met's training staff doing an awful job, or is this just really, really really bad luck. We're now looking at like what something like 5-20 lost projected warp to injuries (especially if you count wagner) this season. I mean, every single one big injuries were known issues, so is that mitigating for the training room and minayas problem or something that they failed to rise up to time and again.


Also if I can say that if Santana goes beyond the 7th ever this season I'm going to scream. I mean I might anyway. I know from a revenue perspective we can't just punt on the rest of the season too openly, but really given the amount of money we're paying wright and santana and the quality team we could put together in 2010 its time. Can we trade sheffield? To Tampa?

Jul 10, 2009 13:21 PM
rating: -2
 
ttomae8833

Will,

Have you had an opportunity yet to view the study put forth by Dr. Ian Byram of Vanderbilt Medical Center, where they found that weakness in pitcher's shoulders during preseason raises the likelihood of in-season injuries?

Bloomberg News is saying the study will be presented this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and it has been submitted for publication.

Curious to get your thoughts and comments on it, if you have read it as of yet. I can send you a link to the article posted on Bloomberg if need be as well.

Tom

Jul 10, 2009 13:21 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Saw the item, but haven't read it. Makes sense on the surface - not exactly groundbreaking concept, but nice to see it studied and confirmed.

Jul 10, 2009 13:32 PM
 
Richard Bergstrom

I was at the Rockies game last night when Embree got hit with that comebacker. He was still in the follow-through of his pitching motion and all his weight was on his right leg when he got hit just above the ankle. Maybe it was me, but from the replay, I thought I could see the shin bone shift when it was struck. Either way, I was pretty sure it was broken and reports today confirm its broken and that he's out for the year.

I can't remember a pitcher being hit in their plant leg while their trail leg was still in the air.

Jul 11, 2009 10:31 AM
rating: 0
 
russell

Anything worth printing on Jay Bruce?

Jul 12, 2009 07:43 AM
rating: 0
 
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