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August 5, 2009

Under The Knife

Radical?

by Will Carroll

Jose Reyes (10/4)
Luis Castillo (8/8)

It's not my rule, but it is the simplest of rules in sports medicine: do everything possible before surgery. Players, ATCs, even doctors do everything they can to avoid putting someone under the knife. Sometimes the timing and failure of the conservative approach makes people question this, but it's the rule for a reason. Now, with surgery back on the table for Reyes in light of his latest setback, many moaning Mets fans are wondering why this wasn't done earlier; I'm wondering why it's back on. The type of surgery being discussed would sever a tendon and has only been done in baseball a few times, with both Edgar Martinez and Ricky Ledee back in 2002. Both players came back, but neither plays the same way that Reyes does. It would stun me if the Mets went this route at this stage, even with the three- or four-month recovery period that surgery involves. Reyes overcame chronic hamstring problems at the start of his career, and had a subsequent long run of health. I can't believe they would abandon that for something so aggressive and truly untested. If Reyes is shut down or sent for surgery, that may affect the comeback of Carlos Beltran as well as a few others, though not Carlos Delgado or Billy Wagner, who need the showcasing. The Mets got more bad news last night with Castillo spraining his ankle. Worse, he did it in the dugout, not on the field. There's no word yet on the severity, though he's expected to miss at least a couple of games.

Kevin Slowey (10/4)
Slowey had successful wrist surgery, but the more interesting part came after. According to the Twins, Slowey had been pitching with a bone chip in his wrist since last season, and that was removed during the surgery. So the wrist wasn't broken or chipped as we were originally told. In fact, if we're buying in here, then the comebacker off his wrist did nothing more than... well, just nothing. Slowey's results this year don't indicate that he was playing through any kind of problem, so I have a feeling there's a bit more here than what we're being told. The end result is the same however-he's done for the season, but should be fine for 2010. We still don't know where the chip came from or what chipped, but in the end, the timeline makes it moot.

Lance Berkman (8/11)
Lance Berkman jogged. No, seriously, he jogged, and I have to take notes, because he jogged and didn't like what he felt. He jogged, and the team's decided that he's not going to be back this week. With nothing more than a jog, the odds of the Astros' contending, whatever they were, took a big hit. Now, yes, I'm making fun of the fact that Berkman, a guy who fights to be called "Puma," can't jog on a strained calf, but really I'm poking a bit at the fact that this trivial piece of news was more easily noted as a Grade II gastrocnemius strain, something they could have told us last week. I guess that doesn't fill the notebooks. Expect Berkman to try jogging again later this week and be back on the field early next week.

Torii Hunter (8/14)
Vladimir Guerrero

American League rules make injuries a bit interesting, because the flexibility given by the DH can help teams or handcuff them. The White Sox are locked in with Jim Thome, for example; it's not a bad thing, but because he can't play anywhere else, it pushes someone like Carlos Quentin back onto the field. The Angels are using their slot to get Vladi back more quickly and to protect him from further injury. It does take away some roster flexibility, but this team hasn't been using it as much as juggling constantly to find a mix that's both healthy and effective. They have, yet again, and given that situation, it makes me think that Mike Scioscia might just be the best manager in the game right now. When he plays, Guerrero will be at DH for the rest of the season, but expect some regular rest to make sure he's available down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Angels will finally start Hunter's rehab assignment on Friday. There's no news on the delay, though there's some suggestion that the team simply slow-walked this one.

Bobby Jenks (8/7)
Anyone who's ever had a kidney stone has some sympathy for someone going through it, which is what Jenks is dealing with. The Sox closer was unable to pass his stones, and had to have a procedure to correct the issue that will have him sitting out a few games, leaving the save chances for Matt Thornton in the interim. The likely procedure he had is lithotripsy, which is painful, but much less painful than the stones themselves. Jenks shouldn't miss much time or have any issues once he's back.

Nelson Cruz (8/8)
Cruz injured his ankle on the final play of a painful loss Monday night. While I still haven't seen a good angle of the play, what happened was that Cruz slipped and sprained his ankle while chasing a ball in the corner. It was extremely painful and he had to be helped from the field. The pain was significant enough to make him think he'd broken it, but instead, it's merely a painful sprain, something like a Grade II. He's expected back in action this weekend, though he's going to need to show that he can move and hit before they'll put him back out there. There's some likelihood that they'll be cautious and put him on the DL if he's not back by Saturday.

Adrian Beltre
Rushed back? An 0-for-5 night at the plate plus a throwing error in Beltre's first game back might make you think that, but let's just call it rust. No one I spoke with regarding Beltre over the last 48 hours-both before and after his off night-felt that Beltre was ahead of himself medically. Oddly, two of them, a doctor and a physical therapist, neither in baseball, questioned whether he would need some kind of rehab assignment. The Mariners are hoping that Beltre's short stay on the DL means that his game will come back to him quickly. Rust never sleeps, but in baseball, rust is better than pain.

Quick Cuts: Scott Rolen is still point-tender on his head where he got beaned, and has some other symptoms of PCS. ... Roy Oswalt saw a back specialist on Tuesday. It's unknown what he said, but since the Astros will have Oswalt do a bullpen session today, it couldn't have been bad. ... J.C. Romero is throwing and could be back in the Philly pen by mid-month. ... Dallas Braden will miss his next start due to a rash on his foot. It's also an easy way to limit his innings. ... Jake Westbrook restarted his rehab from Tommy John after a month off. He should be back in late August. ... Austin Kearns heads to the DL with a thumb injury. He could miss up to a month. ... We'll have an announcement about a Pittsburgh Ballpark Event coming soon. Our Indy Ballpark Event with Peter King of Sports Illustrated still has some tickets available ... Speaking of SI, congrats to Joe Posnanski.

Related Content:  Back,  Broken Wrist

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