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July 27, 2010

Under The Knife

The No Fun League?

by Will Carroll

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Chris Coghlan (torn meniscus, ERD 9/30)
Between Kendry Morales and now Coghlan, post-game celebrations might get banned this year. Coghlan had an MRI yesterday, and reports vary on what was injured. Some say that it showed a sprained MCL in his knee while most, including MLB.com, say that there's a meniscal tear. Fact is, it's likely to be both. It's said to be the result of a "pieing" on Sunday. Coghlan snuck up behind Wes Helms and got him with the shaving cream to celebrate Helms' game winning hit, but somehow torqued his knee and sprained the ligament. Coghlan heads to the DL, but there's no word yet on surgery. There's no word on how significant the sprain is (if it exists), but in most cases, the MCL isn't repaired surgically even if it's ruptured, so that shouldn't affect the timing. Reports have Coghlan out for eight weeks, which would in essence end his season, but that's the high end of the estimates. Coghlan will immediately start a rehab program, and the Marlins trainers will start looking for a brace that will protect Coghlan's knee. The Marlins' slogan of "Serious Fun" has ended up a serious injury.

Troy Tulowitzki (fractured wrist, ERD 7/27)
The Rockies will have Tulowitzki back in the lineup today, but what version of him will they be getting? It's pretty well known that wrist injuries cause a short-term loss of power. Even Coors Field won't help him that much. Tulowitzki finished his four-game rehab stint with only one double in 13 PAs. It's a very small sample size, I know, and results in rehab appearances aren't the biggest concern, but Tulowitzki's OPS was in the 500s at Double- and Triple-A; that's not a good sign that he's going to be the same hitter he was before the injury. It will come back, but comparable injuries to other players tend to show their effect for the first three to six months. That means that while Tulowitzki's offensive contribution to the Rockies' cause will be down for the remainder of the '10 season, but 2011 should be back to "normal"—though normal for Tulowitzki shouldn't include "durable" in that definition. One other thing: Tulowitzki is returning at the five-week mark after what was expected to be a six- to eight-week injury. That doesn't mean he healed quickly or is being rushed. As with most fractures, new techniques and aids to the healing process are resetting the timeline on it. Tulowitzki's rehab is going to be a big data point in that reconfiguration.

Ubaldo Jimenez
I'm sure that Jim Tracy believes what he's saying in this article, that Jimenez isn't having bad results because of fatigue. It's just hard to believe based on what we know and what we see. Fatigue isn't a bad thing, if that's all it is; even Kenyan marathoners get tired if they run too much. And "too much" is a very subjective thing. I don't know what "too much" is for Jimenez, Jeff Francis, or any of the other Rockies pitchers, but the real problem is that Jim Tracy and his staff don't either. That doesn't mean they don't try, but Tracy is no better informed on this than Connie Mack would have been looking out at Lefty Grove. We just don't know the forces that these pitcher are putting on their arms and don't use the available methods to measure their fatigue. This is a systemic failure, not just Tracy and the Rockies.

Jimmy Rollins (bruised foot, ERD 7/29)
Jamie Moyer (sprained elbow, ERD 10/4)
It hasn't been a good year for Rollins in a lot of respects, so maybe a bit of good news is warranted. Rollins had images taken of his foot after fouling a ball off it, and while some early reports were very negative, but the tests came back showing that there was no fracture. Rollins still has a bruised foot at the least and sources tell me that it was very sore and swollen. He stayed in the game, with his shoe acting as a bit of a compress. His body's reaction to the injury and treatment will determine how much time, if any, he misses, but expect a couple days and some loss of mobility. The Phillies are also waiting for Jamie Moyer to get more opinions on his sprained elbow. It's not a good sign that he's had to wait. I'm told the elbow is still swollen and tender, though Moyer is starting the typical rehab that would be prescribed, whether or not he has surgery. Those visits and a decision should come by early next week.

Justin Morneau (concussion, ERD 8/3)
There's information everywhere. That's not a William Gibson quote—it's true. In an innocuous report about Morneau, there's good information. Several local sources said that Morneau wouldn't accompany the team on its next trip, but they went on to say that he was working out at Target Field. That sounds negative, but is actually the most positive news since his concussion. Morneau was cleared for that physical activity when he saw a concussion specialist, and it's often one of the tougher parts of a rehab. Physical activity is often a trigger for more symptoms. Keep your eyes open over the next few days for reports on what Morneau is doing. If he's able to stick with physical or "baseball activities" then he could be back as soon as next week. Concussions often mean setbacks, especially for someone with a history of them, like Morneau, so don't set anything in stone.

Jacoby Ellsbury (fractured ribs, ERD 8/2)
Ellsbury had no problems with his ribs in his first game back in Fort Myers. He was in the game as DH, so it wasn't as taxing, but it's a nice first step. He's expected to play again today, this time in the outfield, and likely in center. Assuming that Ellsbury doesn't have any issues, he'll be moved up quickly, which could put him back in Fenway by the weekend. All complications aside, Ellsbury's issue now is one of pain management so all that matters is that he can play productively without pain, during or after the game. There's no notes that Ellsbury needed much in the way of special care, before or after the game, so that is definitely a good sign. Ellsbury's last challenge won't be hitting or fielding, but dealing with a clubhouse full of teammates that are now questioning him.

Homer Bailey (strained shoulder, ERD 8/15)
The Reds had Bailey start off his rehab assignment slowly, sending him to the friendly confines in Dayton for a first start back. It didn't go too well, giving up three runs to a Low-A lineup that didn't feature anyone that made Kevin Goldstein's prospect lists. Worse, Bailey seemed to fatigue very rapidly, losing it in the fourth inning. He's got quite a way to go on stamina, which isn't surprising given the injury and the time off, but many are worried about the way Bailey has rehabbed. He's never been known for his work ethic or self-awareness, making this even tougher than it would be for any pitcher with similar stuff. Worse still, Bailey was matched up with top prospect Shelby Miller and two observers say that while it was clear Bailey wasn't 100 percent, both of them preferred Miller in the short- and long-term. Bailey may end up using much, if not all, of the 30-day rehab time, which puts the Reds' rotation in an uneasy spot, looking for ways to buy rest and win, all at once. This outing by Bailey may not have looked like much, but it could end up forcing Walt Jocketty's hand in the next week.

Dan Haren (bruised forearm)
You can go back and read one of my many soapbox rants about protecting pitchers, but the Angels almost made a great case for it. In his first start since coming over, Haren left in the fifth after getting hit by a comebacker. The early diagnosis is just a nasty bruise, and he's on track for his Sunday start against Cliff Lee. As always, this could have been a lot worse. While we're on the subject of Haren, several sources shared that they thought that Haren had been "overworked" over the last couple years, and that this had to be factored in to his value. There's zero evidence that Haren has any physical problem, and I'm sure that the Angels and their doctors vetted his records pretty closely. Maybe it's a symptom of the pitch count pendulum swinging too far to protectionism that his workload would be considered overwork, but his results over the last 12 months could be interpreted that way if you squint.

Quick CutsDustin Pedroia has progressed to some light jogging. The broken foot could be ahead of schedule. He'll meet with Lewis Yocum while the Sox are in Anaheim. ... The Red Sox will get Mike Lowell back on Friday, just in time to showcase him to the Tigers and any other teams that might want a hitter. ... Geovany Soto will miss a few games with a bruised foot after fouling a ball off it. ... Rod Barajas heads to the DL with an oblique strain. He's not expected to miss much more than the minimum. ... Initially, it was reported that Cubs minor leaguer Josh Vitters has a broken hand and is done for the season, but oops, no, now the report is that he has a broken middle finger, which would not end his season, though the Cubs will surely be very careful with him. ... Congrats to Matt Garza on last night's no-hitter. He was brought in as a talented pitcher, but now he's someone who's thought of as the leader in that rotation.  

Related Content:  Back,  Chris Coghlan,  Broken Wrist

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