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August 13, 2009

Under The Knife

Feeling Famous?

by Will Carroll

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Derek Jeter
Mariano Rivera (8/14 ERD)

Exhale, Yankees fans. The Yankee captain fouled a ball off of his right foot and was forced to leave the game. (Maybe he can build a big wall around his foot?) X-rays showed it was nothing more than a painful bruise, and the world began to rotate on its axis again. I'm only being slightly facetious, given Yankeeverse (over)reactions. Jeter tends to come back quickly, so if he misses any time with this painful foot problem, it's unlikely to be much. One thing to watch is to see whether or not he loses any range to his left. There have always been question marks about how to measure Jeter's defense, but this could tell us whether it's reaction time or actual physical speed that has always caused him problems with balls going up the middle. As for Rivera, he stayed behind and saw team doctors about his "cranky" shoulder. I'm sorry, but cranky is what I am before coffee; Rivera's shoulder is inflamed and a bit sore. Not painful, just sore, which means that Phil Hughes and Phil Coke might see even more usage. The back of the bullpen is being treated like Joe Torre never left, and that could be an issue. Rivera should be fine in a couple days. As always, he has one of these every year, comes back fine, and remains perhaps the greatest closer of all time.

Carlos Delgado (9/15)
The Mets are going to have to wait a little longer for Delgado and perhaps a lot longer. That's because he strained his oblique while rehabbing in Florida, and the early word is that it's a significant problem. Delgado was expected back from hip surgery in the next ten days, but pushing that past September 1 is going to cause some roster repercussions. The Mets seem to think that Delgado won't be able to get the at-bats he needs in the minors with this latest setback, which could keep them from bringing him back, even with expanded rosters. That doesn't make sense to me, and makes me wonder if there's some financial reason for them not to do so. Delgado's not going to make any difference at this stage in terms of the "surge" the Mets had hoped to get with returns from Delgado, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran, but there's the matter of Delgado proving that he can still play. Even if the Mets have no interest in re-signing Delgado, allowing him to prove that he's healthy is one of those nice things teams do, knowing that players talk and that small things often affect decisions on where to play. I still think we'll end up seeing a Delgado cameo at the end of the season.

Lance Berkman
Berkman is back out on the field after missing time with a strained calf. It was just another 2-for-3 day for the guy who does nothing but hit. At 33, he's only a couple of years younger than Todd Helton, but both might see the end of their careers shaped by injury. Berkman has, for the most part, avoided the chronic conditions that Helton's had to deal with, but while you might perceive that Helton has had a significant gap in his career due to injury, it's hard to find in his career line. Despite back and intestinal issues that were extremely significant, his single-season low in games played is 144. Berkman came back quickly from an ACL tear a few years back and hasn't really missed a step (no pun intended) because of the style of player he was and is. Two years younger than Helton, Berkman nevertheless seems to have several years more at near-peak left in him, plus a couple of contract years coming up. With almost 1500 hits and over 300 homers, it's time to start thinking about Berkman as a possible Hall of Famer. As for his leg, it shouldn't be an issue.

Ian Kinsler (8/15)
Kinsler started his rehab with Frisco, but had to go to Tulsa rather than staying in the Metroplex. For his trouble, he went 0-for-2, but at least the hamstring didn't appear to be an issue. It wasn't really tested, at bat or in the field, but he'll have one more game in Double-A before returning to the Rangers' lineup for the playoff chase. Kinsler is key to the team's hopes in a lot of ways, and even with an off year, the offense has keyed off of his ability to get into scoring position and then across. He's on pace to score as many runs as he did last year, which ended a month early, so does a 60-point drop in OBP equal out to that missed time? We'll see if he can get back to expectations once he returns. The hamstring shouldn't be what holds him back.

Chris Young (10/4)
So, Jake Peavy's gone, and now Young might not be back. That alone sums up the Padres' season. Young hasn't pitched in two months, and after a visit to Kerlan-Jobe it's looking like the shoulder injury might keep him out for the rest of the season. We're told that Young will head out for a second opinion, and who he goes to might tell us more about what the problem is at the core. MRIs have never been able to reflect a clear problem, but we know that Young can't throw without inflammation and pain. The assumption has been that it's his labrum that's bothering him, so we'll look to see if he heads out to Jim Andrews, or whether he goes to one of the shoulder experts like Craig Morgan or Keith Meister. Either way, it looks as if Young's season is done, his third year of declining innings totals due to injury.

Dexter Fowler (8/15)
The Wall won when Dexter Fowler took it on the other night, but Fowler didn't lose too badly. A precautionary MRI came back clean, and the Rockies are just waiting to get Fowler back to a particular comfort level before putting him back on the field. They'll test his running and make sure that any pain from the collision isn't throwing off his gait and putting him at risk for some sort of cascade injury. He's not expected to miss significant time, but the Rockies do have plenty of outfield options, so they won't need to rush Fowler back. While he should have no problems once he returns, he's likely to run a bit less the first few games back.

Pedro Martinez
Pedro was throwing the ball well and showing velocity that surprised many, given what we saw from him last year. Certainly, 93 mph is nothing to sneeze at, and he sustained it pretty well last night. I'd expected five good innings from Martinez, and that's exactly what we got. The question now is the same as last year: Can Martinez recover quickly enough between starts? Next time out (and even during his throw day), we'll need to look to see if he's starting out at the same velocity. I have serious questions about his recovery and stamina from game to game, and thus how sustainable his success is going to be. The Phillies aren't hoping that Martinez can pitch them to the World Series, just that he can hold down his spot well enough to protect the front of the rotation.

Homer Bailey
Pitchers do fear the comebacker, though few will actually say so. Chris Young certainly knows what Albert Pujols can do, and now Bailey does too. That's because he took a hard shot off his landing foot from a Pujols scorcher and was forced to leave the game, though he was not in obvious pain. His X-rays came back negative and it appears his shoe gave him enough protection to avoid the worst. Bailey was lucky enough, but now he'll have to see how his foot responds. Early word is that the Reds think that he'll make his next start, and that they'll consider bringing him back early if possible. The Reds' bullpen has been very taxed lately, so if healthy, this might not be the worst idea Dusty Baker has had.

New Batting Helmet
Are baseball players so stupid or so vain that they would risk their health and future over the fact that a protective helmet looks a little funny? It's hard to tell from pictures that don't give much context what players like Jeff Francouer or Nomar Garciaparra are complaining about, but the new S100 helmet has the chance to keep injuries, like those that Edgar Gonzalez and Scott Rolen suffered, from costing players time off. Moreover, they might keep players' lives more normal than what's happened to someone like Corey Koskie, who still has PCS-related symptoms to this day. The fact is, players have laughed off their own safety for far too long, and have in the past, whether it's earflaps, protective glasses, pads for pitchers, and now this. I don't want to be one of those people who thinks kids need to wear a helmet in the bathtub or sends them out in bubble wrap, but why is this a choice? This is one area where teams or even the Commissioner should say "We're leaders. We're examples. We're going to wear the best equipment and keep our players safe and moreover, we're going to use some of our money to make sure that this technology trickles down."

Quick Cuts: I'm not really that interested in the talk about Joba Chamberlain and innings limits. It's smart, especially considering the Yankees' lead. Would they do the same thing in a tight race? I don't know. ... David Wright was said to be ill when he missed Tuesday's game, but it was his knee they were looking at late in Wednesday's game. This is a situation that bears watching. ... Jed Lowrie is rejoining the Red Sox, but there's still no clear timetable for when he might return to the lineup. ... Ted Lilly had a great rehab outing in Peoria, going five without giving up a run. He showed no issues with the shoulder or knee. ... Armando Galarraga was scratched from his start yesterday due to illness. He's expected to make his next turn. ... In the on-again, off-again saga of Troy Glaus' return to the Cardinals, it's kind of back on. Glaus is now saying that he'd be able to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter in September. ... Brett Gardner got the cast taken off of his hand on Tuesday and thinks he'll be back with the Yankees in about two weeks. September 1 is about two weeks away, right? ... Nate McLouth missed another game with a strained hamstring and will test it again today.

Related Content:  Back,  The Who,  Year Of The Injury

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

BP Comment Quick Links

TGisriel

Brad Bergesen had a setback in his recovery yesterday. Is this normal for his shin injury, or is the slow recovery an indication of something more than a bruised shin?

Aug 13, 2009 09:41 AM
rating: 0
 
Jeff P

Uh, it was 144 for Todd Helton before he only played in 83 games last season.

Aug 13, 2009 10:04 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Yep, meant to say that.

Aug 13, 2009 13:06 PM
 
fgreenagel2

Every objective measure I've seen puts Rivera as the unquestionable greatest reliever of all time.

Aug 13, 2009 10:09 AM
rating: 3
 
Alex Schwartz

You know the man is the clear cut greatest closer ever when "perhaps the greatest closer of all time" feels like a slap in the face.

Aug 13, 2009 10:30 AM
rating: 4
 
eneff1
(940)

Kind of hard not to, isn't it? You'd look foolish even trying to make an argument against it.

Aug 13, 2009 10:48 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

There's always arguments, esp given era changes in role. Safer to say "perhaps."

Aug 13, 2009 13:09 PM
 
havybeaks

The S100 helmet is probably just bigger all around, making some players feel like every night is bobblehead night.

Nevertheless, I completely agree with you about protective gear - it has to be mandated. Didn't MLB introduce new material for ballcaps this year despite player complaints?

One part of your "Juice" book that I remember well is where you explained how most kids would still use a PED even if it guaranteed to shorten their life by many years.

How does cricket bowling compare to pitching in terms of head injury risk? Cricket batters sport some serious hardware and it doesn't seem to hamper them.

Aug 13, 2009 11:06 AM
rating: 0
 
warmsox

That helmet doesn't look any different than the current vented helmets that are used.

Just...everything Francouer says is so damn ignorant. Makes me sad to be a Mets fan.

Aug 13, 2009 11:19 AM
rating: 4
 
Chad

And makes me glad to be a Braves fan! Wow that feels great to say

Aug 13, 2009 12:59 PM
rating: 1
 
Hoff

can the mets catch a break? answer: No.

Aug 13, 2009 11:24 AM
rating: 0
 
krissbeth

The first guy to wear a glove did it because he had a hand injury and painted it pink to try to hide it from the crowd and other players, if I remember my Bill James Historical Abstract correctly. So, if you're asking why people complain, it's because they have to be seen to be unconcerned about their safety, even if they happen to be concerned, lest they be thought less tough.

Aug 13, 2009 11:42 AM
rating: 1
 
tdogg217

Maybe Francouer should listen to one of his teammates that can actually hit. This is the same guy who said "if OBP was so important, they'd put it on the scoreboard". What a bumpkin. Another thing that surprises me, and Will has commented on this in the past, is batters hand protection. A couple of years ago, Mike Lowell fashioned a plastic flap to fit over his bottom hitting hand and i wonder why more players don't give it a shot. Miggy might be receptive of the idea now after taking one the other night.

Aug 13, 2009 11:51 AM
rating: 2
 
Pat Folz

Will --
I have a pitching instruction question. The difference between a two-seam and four-seam fastball is essentially the orientation of the seams with respect to the direction of spin. So for pitchers who have a very "straight" fastball -- Kevin mentioned Jeff Samardzija on Twitter last night -- why not just have them rotate the ball in their hand a bit before throwing it?

Not so much to change the character of the pitch, but I'd think you could gain an extra inch or two of movement with a relatively minor adjustment.

Aug 13, 2009 12:42 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Command. You might get more movement, but you might not be able to put it where you want. There are guys who can get away with that (Rivera), but not many.

Aug 13, 2009 13:10 PM
 
David Coonce

After reading the Chris Young note, I wondered : Whatever happened to Brian Giles? Is he really still injured, or are the Padres just quietly letting him fade away? I've read absolutely nothing about his (phantom?) injury or rehab. Just curious.

Aug 14, 2009 06:04 AM
rating: 0
 
asstarr1

Will - I thought Corey Koskie's concussion came during a fielding play.

Aug 14, 2009 10:25 AM
rating: 0
 
David Coonce

His final one did - it's all the ones that came before that may have been prevented

Aug 17, 2009 09:45 AM
rating: 0
 
ngguy1

Will - I understand and agree with your stance about the helmet and its safety benefits. However, I can see how resistance can form easily in these elite athletes. I played lacrosse goalie for years, from 8th grade until I finished college at a D3 school. I continued to use a model that was deemed heavier and less sleek than others because I was so used to the sight lines and weight of the helmet. I tried the lighter, newer ones and always went back to the old one b/c I didn't want to be uncomfortable and think about anything other than stopping the 90MPH lacrosse ball coming at me. I'm not sure I was prudent enough to look up the safety literature at the time (call it young ignorance) but I was only concerned with how best to perform on the field. I'm not condoning the attitude, just saying that it is prevalent and easily justified in the minds of an athlete.

Aug 14, 2009 13:08 PM
rating: 2
 
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Premium Article Under The Knife: Pain ... (08/12)
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