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September 1, 2010

Under The Knife

The Toughest Month for Injury News

by Will Carroll

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September is going to be an interesting month. In this neck of the woods, September is when I have to really work hard. The DL stops being the "easy way" for teams to deal with injuries, since roster relief isn't needed with the limit expanded from 25 to 40. Teams will stop using the DL altogether, pulling some guys off even though they remain unavailable, and generally twisting and squeezing the 40-man roster as much as they can within the rules to either chase a pennant or build for next year. It makes it very difficult to judge how long players will be out. At times, we'll see a player get shut down, giving someone a chance to show their stuff and at others, teams will rest guys so they will be ready for October, mostly when they have a lead. We'll see the end of minor-league rehabs after this weekend, due to the minor-league regular season ending. It does give teams with affiliates in the playoffs a slight advantage. Just remember that the roster expansion is going to change how teams deal with injuries. You'll see guys benched with no explanation for a couple days. Injury? Rest? I'll do my best to give you guidance, but remember that you have to factor uncertainty into any projection, even when you're just trying to figure out who to put in your fantasy roster. Powered by Bell's Two Hearted Ale, which is good, but not nearly as good as their Oberon, let's get to the injuries:

Justin Upton (strained shoulder, 9/1)

Genetics fascinates me. I don't pretend to understand it, but I'm lucky to have friends that do. We have a ton of relatives in the game, whether it's generations like the Griffeys or the Boones, or brothers like the Giambis, Cansecos, and Uptons. (Even in PEDs, there's a massive lesson. Why did Jason hit homers and collect millions while Jeremy didn't on what both testified were similar regimens?) The Uptons don't have the drug issues, but they may have something they inherited from their parents aside from ridiculous athleticism. Justin Upton is dealing with a shoulder problem that sources say is similar to the one that forced B.J. Upton to have shoulder surgery after the Rays' playoff run in '08. The basic problem is a laxity in the shoulders that is taxed by the sheer forces of the swing. Both swing very hard and very long. I'm hardly an expert on swings or the physics, but knowing that it's enough to pull the head of the humerus slightly out of socket on some swings is certainly enough to realize it could be a problem. Whether Upton eventually will need the shoulder tightened remains to be seen. The Diamondbacks will be conservative with him over the next month, so look for off days here and there, as was the case on Tuesday night.

Josh Hamilton (inflamed knee, 9/3)

Hamilton's knee has long been an issue. He had surgery in his first professional season (1999) after tearing his lateral meniscus. If you think back to the start of this season, you'll remember that Lance Berkman was having similar issues due to a surgery in the same year. Interesting. The need for a joint lubricant suggests there are bone-on-bone issues, just like Berkman. Hamilton had a similar injection early this season and as you can tell, he was able to play pretty well after it. The timing's a bit interesting, in that the lubricant can't be used again this season if the recommended pattern is followed. That leaves about two months, if things go the Rangers' way. There are a lot of other options, including increased rest, which the Rangers will have, given their lead. Hamilton will get tonight off to pair up with the Thursday off day, but he is expected back for the weekend series. Yes, Jeff Francouer will provide some cover for those offdays or as a defensive replacement for Vlad Guerrero if the Rangers shift Hamilton to DH more.

Alex Rodriguez (strained calf, 9/5)

The Yankees have been careful with their players that have been injured over the last month. It's normal for playoff teams to focus on getting players healthy and playing things conservatively, but the George Steinbrenner Yankees often focused on the short term—beating the Red Sox and winning the division. This year's Yankees aren't giving anything away to the Sox or the Rays, but they're also more focused on October. If they get in as the wild card, but have Andy Pettitte, Rodriguez, and the rest of the team healthy, they seem fine with that. Rodriguez has all appearances of being ready to come back this weekend from his calf strain. The Yankees put him on the shelf to make sure that his calf didn't change his gait and the limp affect his hip. It was the smart move. Rodriguez won't have a rehab assignment, but has been hitting for the last few days and the Yankees don't think he'll have a big adjustment period.
 

Derek Lowe (strained elbow)

Lowe says he's been dealing with elbow soreness for a couple weeks, but it's hard to find it in his numbers. He hasn't been great over the last six weeks, but he hasn't been great all year. He's been serviceable, consistent, and exactly what the Braves needed this season. Lowe's groundball tendencies aren't as severe as they used to be, making me think a bit less velocity is costing him a bit of movement or perhaps giving the hitter just a fraction of a second more time to adjust. Lowe had a cortisone injection that should get him through the next couple weeks, but at 37 and with two years remaining on a big-dollar contract, the Braves will be happy to focus on the short term for now. If they win the division and give Bobby Cox a last run at another ring, I'm guessing most will take eating a bit on the back end of Lowe's deal.

Brandon Phillips (bruised hand, 9/2)

While a seven-game lead is good for a lot of things, it's also very good for health. The Reds have some room to let Phillips recover from his bruised hand by spotting in Chris Valaika, who's holding up his end of the deal pretty well. As before, Phillips could play if needed, but the extra time is going to help make sure that he's ready. If they keep this up, I'd expect it will not only allow Phillips rest, but at some point, Scott Rolen and Joey Votto could see a bit more rest, though Votto's situation is going to be complicated by chasing the Triple Crown. It's tough to predict when Phillips will be back, but I don't expect it to be much longer. Dusty Baker will want to see him hit a little bit before the key series with the Cardinals. 

Gordon Beckham (bruised hand, 9/4)

People can argue against padding pitchers, as they often do when I bring it up, but as yet, I've not heard one good reason why batters don't use padded gloves. Whether it's a simple pad, a hard piece of plastic like Mike Lowell, or something like the XProTex gloves that have gotten little traction in the game, players continue to resist even a small change. What strikes me (no pun intended) is that even after a scare, most players don't even temporarily try something. Beckham is just the latest to get smoked on the hand by a heavy fastball and was lucky that it wasn't worse than a bruise. Yes, yes, you can point to the relative luck of Beckham and Phillips recently, but I can point to just as many guys who went to the DL or worse. With Beckham out until the weekend, Omar Vizquel will fill in. Is the difference between their production enough to give the Twins an edge in the AL Central? This race could be decided not by a hair, but by a glove. 

Geovany Soto (inflamed knee, 9/2)

On a rate basis, Soto's 2010 season is equal to his rookie campaign of two years ago that gave the Cubs such high expectations. That comeback has to be tempered a bit by the injuries he's dealt with all season. Soto recently gave the Cubs a scare with a knee that was "popping and locking". Since Soto's a catcher, not a dancer, that's bad. The Cubs sent him for an MRI, which came back with what sounds like a good report—no structural damage. Problem is, structural damage isn't what anyone expected the issue to be. No, this type of thing is normally a meniscus problem and sources tell me that's exactly what the Cubs doctors believe this is. Watch for Soto to have an off-season cleanout. It's not a problem in the short term, but even minor knee problems can end up as a big issue down the line. Soto is not Joe Mauer athletically, so this could be a bigger issue for him quicker. In the short term, the Cubs will be careful with him, giving him days off as necessary as they play out the string.

Dan Uggla (strained groin, 9/3)

The Marlins are taking heat off the field and pretty much out of it on the field. That means they can be more conservative with Uggla than they might be if they were contending. Uggla's groin strain is said to be mild to moderate (Grade I/II), but there's no reason to push. He's day to day for Edwin Rodriguez and they seem content to let him have the rest of the week off to heal and not have to deal with the issue. The flip side of this is that Uggla is a gritty, gutty guy, one who's going to push to be back on the field, even lying to the athletic trainers in the way that other players have with poor results. That leaves Rodriguez and the Marlins medical staff with a tough call on how to best handle it. Best guess at this stage is they'll let him test it on Thursday or Friday and that they'll once again be conservative.

UTK Flashback

Back in the pre-BP days of Under The Knife, I was given the chance to write about the "Redbook", an internal MLB report on injuries that was published by baseball's insurance company. That article was re-published at BP in 2003. By 2005, MLB had stopped publishing the Redbook and according to an interview by ESPN's Peter Keating, had barely done anything to research injuriesat all. I ran into Pete Eshelman, one of the men behind the Redbook last weekend. Instead of ligaments and tendons, these days he's talking a lot more about meat. Wagyu beef, actually. Eshelman was sampling his restaurant's wagyu beef at a local food festival. Joseph Decuis' is one of the best reviewed restaurants in the country now in addition to producing some of America's only wagyu beef. Pretty amazing how things can change in just eight years. Sadly, injuries haven't changed much, lacking basic research by baseball over that time. (By the way, if any of you that have been with me since the beginning have some of the earliest email UTK's—April or May of 2002—I'd love to see them. I never thought to keep them!)
 

Quick Cuts:

I'm going to just completely avoid the "inverted W" stuff today and say, fine—if you believe it, prove it. Finance a study and publish it. If you're right, I'm on board 100% ... Troy Tulowitzki was given Tuesday off with a mild groin strain, but he was able to do all the warmups. He's expected back in the lineup tonight for the surging Rockies ... Try this. Pound a nail into your knee and try to hit a baseball. That's the type of pain Carlos Beltran is playing through right now, according to a source. "I'll be stunned if he tries to play next year without relief." Sounds like microfracture surgery is a real option ... 103 is pretty impressive for Aroldis Chapman, but Carlos Gomez put a 99-mph fastball into play. Velocity isn't everything ... Brandon Webb's agent thinks his client will get Ben Sheets money this offseason. I can't believe some team would do that, but then again, I didn't think Sheets was going to get much either ... Rafael Furcal's back is making some progress. He'll head out late this week on a quick rehab assignment before the minor-league season ends and should be back at the beginning of next week ... Vicente Padilla was hit by a comebacker during his last rehab start. He's due for a side session today to be watched by Dodgers brass. Word is that he's still expected to be back next week, though the team is unsure in what role ... Brian Roberts is going to get extra days off as he fights through his hip strain, but he's showing that he can still be productive when able to play ... Matt Lindstrom is expected to be activated tonight. Brad Mills says he won't immediately close  ... The White Sox think Matt Thornton will come off the DL this weekend. He's looked good in side sessions ... Let's stick to baseball discussion in the comments today, please?

Related Content:  Gutty,  Back,  The Who,  Strained Groin

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

BP Comment Quick Links

StatFreak101

The Twins have a bunch of walking wounded - Kubel, Hudson, Fuentes, Thome, Morneau etc.

Why no mention of these guys?

Sep 01, 2010 09:07 AM
rating: -3
 
deckholm

Kubel being another example of your bruised hand comments after getting drilled by Phil Coke during the 7th inning of last night's game. He left the game when the inning ended. Hopefully he'll be "lucky" enough to be more like Beckham or Phillips than Carlos Pena was last September.

Sep 01, 2010 13:10 PM
rating: 0
 
flyingdutchman

Sorry, but I just can't let this grievous error stand. Two Hearted is a great beer, while Oberon is only good. As a Michigander living in California, where Bell's is not available, it's great just to see those beers mentioned in print.

Sep 01, 2010 09:09 AM
rating: 3
 
elm
(41)

I also prefer Two Hearted to Oberon, but mostly because I don't leak wheat ales all that much. Bell's Porter and Amber Ale are also quite good.

Sigh, I miss Bell's and Vernor's.

Sep 01, 2010 11:18 AM
rating: 0
 
cooper7d7

Which beers do you leak?

Sep 02, 2010 08:24 AM
rating: 1
 
elm
(41)

Dogfish Head's Potato and Leak Stout. Fantastic.

Sep 02, 2010 10:11 AM
rating: 0
 
dianagram

What about Mike Leake?

Sep 02, 2010 10:14 AM
rating: 0
 
cooper7d7

Leake - a Locke to lose to Luebke.

Sep 02, 2010 11:40 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

All of them, eventually.

Sep 02, 2010 11:19 AM
 
cooper7d7

Bravo.

Although I would swear that Bass and Newcastle egress elsewhere.

Sep 02, 2010 11:34 AM
rating: 0
 
bflaff1

Expedition Stout, please.

Sep 01, 2010 12:44 PM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

Since I live in Wisconsin, state law requires me to comment on all beer-related posts.

Two Hearted is a very good ale -- imho better than Oberon, though I can see why some would prefer the latter.

Two Hearted is a very good river -- but when I was in the UP last week I had much better luck on the Tahquamenon.

Of Michigan beers I've sampled, Kuhnhenn Brewery has produced my favorites, though I only get to sample them at beer festivals--perhaps more familiarity would curb my enthusiasm somewhat.

Sep 01, 2010 13:09 PM
 
gluckschmerz

Wisconsin has a great one in Spotted Cow. Yum! Kudos New Glarus Brewing.

Sep 01, 2010 14:57 PM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I don't drink beer, it's against my religion.

I don't believe in drinking anything I don't like the taste of and beer is an acquired taste I never bothered to acquire.

Sep 01, 2010 19:39 PM
rating: -9
 
Richard Bergstrom

Only seven beer drinkers on Baseball Prospectus? Surely I can get more than -7...

Wine drinkers, Mike's Hard fans, mixed drink and hard shot fans can + all they want.

Personally I like Killer Koolaid. Amaretto, midori, vodka and cranberry juice... nummy...

Sep 02, 2010 13:23 PM
rating: -3
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

I'll back you up. I've come to like Guinness, but that's it for beer. Prefer mixed drinks and learning more about scotches.

Sep 08, 2010 16:24 PM
 
flyingdutchman

Oops, sorry Will. I didn't make it to the last sentence when I brought up the beer.

Sep 01, 2010 09:12 AM
rating: 0
 
Matthew Avery

"Let's stick to baseball discussion in the comments today, please?"
So you don't want us to bring up that weird week of no UTKs and how you're no longer listed as a BP writer in some places and how no one has ever addressed that publicly? Ya, speaking of that, what's the deal?

Sep 01, 2010 09:36 AM
rating: 20
 
MJ

Will and/or BP: One way to end all the "non-baseball" discussion: Issue some kind of acknowledgement of what's going on with Will/UTK. Maybe you can't discuss specifics legally, fine, but to flat out ignore what happened and pretend it didn't happen is an invitation for your subscribers to wildly speculate.

Sep 01, 2010 10:02 AM
rating: 7
 
bobbygrace

I can think of many reasons that a BP writer, BP, or both would want to keep quiet with respect to the unexplained absence of the writer. Some things aren't our business.

Sep 01, 2010 10:32 AM
rating: 2
 
MJ

Bobbygrace, I'll concede that point; however, going forward paying subscribers have a right to know if Will and UTK will be a part of BP's subscription package. As Matthew Avery mentioned, Will's name isn't listed as a BP writer in some places, and he doesn't have the BP logo next to his name when he comments anymore, so clearly something is up.

Sep 01, 2010 10:40 AM
rating: 3
 
bobbygrace

I agree with that. If a personnel decision is made, subscribers should know about it. But if it's a contract dispute or something to that effect, it's apparent by now that BP prefers to keep things close to the vest while negotiations take place. It's as laudable a business practice for them as it is for the Twins.

If it's not a contract dispute, it's clearly something else that BP and Will don't want to talk about.

Not to get high and mighty on everyone -- I'm curious, too, as Will's one of my favorite columnists. But I like and trust him and BP, and will keep following both even if they separate. And the circumstantial evidence doesn't make it clear to me that that's an eventuality or even a likely possibility.

Sep 01, 2010 10:57 AM
rating: 6
 
Will Carroll

I'm sorry. I simply cannot comment, which is why I'd hoped to keep this "on baseball."

Sep 01, 2010 11:18 AM
rating: 0
 
Matthew Avery

I think everyone (well, me anyways) would be understanding if you/BP just said something to the effect of, "There's an ongoing situation involving Will that at current we cannot comment on for legal [or whatever] reasons. For the time being, he'll continue posting UTK and answering your injury-related questions. We'll update you as soon as we can."

Better than silence and pleas to ignore the elephant in the room.

Anyway, I hope thing work out and you can let us know what's going on soon.

Sep 01, 2010 11:34 AM
rating: 10
 
Richard Bergstrom

Well it is a bit of an odd situation overall. I'm not linked into the twitter side of things nor overly browsing the web, but Dan Fox left for a team, Joe Sheenan left to write a book, etc. announcements were made. When a fixture gets loose, the faucet tends to leak and it seems a pretty big puddle of guesswork has formed.

Sep 01, 2010 19:45 PM
rating: 3
 
Flynnbot

except when we're paying for this website and there are only three regular columns worth reading and one of them goes radio silent for 10 days in the middle of the biggest injury news of the year--except for a bunch of really cryptic Twitter messages and all kind of other media appearances (inlcuding football columns) that i didn't pay for--after bragging about reaching 1000 columns. not unreasonable to want to know whether this website is worth renewing.

Sep 01, 2010 10:59 AM
rating: 10
 
amazin_mess

Yeah, exactly. Everyone wants to know.

Sep 01, 2010 21:58 PM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess

I hear ya on the renewal part. BP keeps losing their best writers and most of these new guys are not that good.

Sep 01, 2010 22:01 PM
rating: -3
 
Brian Oakchunas

I think it's clear that you can't comment, Will. I'm sure the BP brass is reading this as well, though, and there must be someone who can comment or that an agreement can be made on a statement about the status of the column. We are looking for something along the lines of "BP is in negotiations wih Will concerning the future of his column" or "Will is signed through the end of the season and will move on to other endeavors at that time." If the reason you can't comment is that you're moving on and they won't let us know when or where that is kind of shady on BP's part.

Sep 01, 2010 11:42 AM
rating: 10
 
matthewshea

I have been following the intrigue along with everyone else, but finally have something to say about it.

I think part of the problem people have with whatever happened/is happening is that we think of BP as a family (yes, one we pay for, but still...) and when somebody leaves, it's difficult. Leaving without telling us anything, even more frustrating.

When Joe left earlier this year, there were hundreds of comments about it, and it was tucked in at the end of a column. No real notice, no nothing. It hurt (it did me, anyway), but at least there was a notice. Whatever happens with Will, it will be odd until we get some kind of closure.

Whether that means Will leaves BP or whether he stays, we need to know. This limbo is just plain awful for everyone. Dave Pease promised some type of comment last week (in the comments), but we have nothing. Brian is completely right in the comment above, that there needs to be SOME type of statement one way or another.

I've been around BP for ages, when many of my favorite authors have left (and returned, and left...), and I do consider them a part of my life. It's difficult when we don't know what's happening to our family.

Sep 01, 2010 18:36 PM
rating: 9
 
Richard Bergstrom

The ironic part is for all the "Joe leaving" hoopla, he really didn't leave. He still blogs here, his book is advertised here, he still comments here.

Sep 01, 2010 19:41 PM
rating: -1
 
devine

A subscription here runs, what, $35 per year? C'mon, $35 does not give any of us the right to demand inside info into PEV's negotiations, or the right to demand that a certain writer be renewed or whatnot.

We get 4-6 intelligent articles a day, plus some blog posts, plus a chat every week or so. Asking for more than that is a little delusional.

Sep 01, 2010 11:57 AM
rating: 11
 
dcarroll

I don't know why some regard devine's comment as worthy of a negative rating. As far as I am concerned, he is right on the mark.

Sep 01, 2010 12:35 PM
rating: -1
 
cjslawyer

Agreed. Plus, at the end of the day, we have a choice. If as a subscriber we feel like we're not getting our money's worth from BP because of writers leaving, changes in format, etc., we can always choose not to renew our subscription.

Sep 02, 2010 07:26 AM
rating: 1
 
dianagram

Huzzah!

Besides .... those who need to decide about re-upping in the next few days COULD just let their subscriptions lapse, then wait to see what actually transpires (i.e. you could always re-subscribe).

Sep 02, 2010 10:18 AM
rating: 0
 
bflaff1

I wish all the, "Ooooh! What's going on with Will?" nudge nudge voyeurism would dry up and find some other car crash to ogle. As devine has noted, a $35 subscription doesn't put you on the Board of Directors. Will's here, writing, and not saying his goodbyes. This is all good. Let it be.

Sep 01, 2010 12:50 PM
rating: -1
 
jetson
(660)

As long as subscribers can comment and they deem it so worthy, they can say what they want. The $35 buys them that right, no?

Sep 01, 2010 17:43 PM
rating: 8
 
bobbygrace

That Beltran image is pretty shocking. There's a fine line between this question and a WATG inquiry, but are there any other players that come to mind who are trying to play through more pain than we realize?

Sep 01, 2010 13:27 PM
rating: 3
 
amazin_mess

That source is clearly exaggerating for effect. As if anyone could even stand up with a nail in their knee.

Sep 01, 2010 22:00 PM
rating: 0
 
BigEasy

Depends on where you put it. I've got a pretty sweet "pop rivet" holding an MCL together, and I'm standing.

Sep 02, 2010 07:21 AM
rating: 0
 
Shkspr

I'm not so sure the answer isn't "all of them".

Sep 01, 2010 15:14 PM
rating: 1
 
Brian Cartwright

Crap, I paid $40.

Sep 01, 2010 18:28 PM
rating: 8
 
Simon C.

I read that Shawn Kelley of the Mariners had something that's being called "partial Tommy John surgery". What's the difference between it and regular TJS?

Sep 01, 2010 19:11 PM
rating: 1
 
djbrown

the $20 co-pay :)

Sep 01, 2010 21:48 PM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

And they don't use the machine that goes "Ping!"

Sep 01, 2010 22:46 PM
 
Will Carroll

Overlay, rather than replacing the ligament. (Probably.)

Sep 02, 2010 07:40 AM
rating: 1
 
elm
(41)

Is there a difference in rehab time between these two procedures? Are full TJS's often needed later? Thanks!

Sep 02, 2010 07:45 AM
rating: 0
 
Will Carroll

No. It's just a preference on the surgeon's part plus a certain "look" to the ligament.

Sep 02, 2010 14:48 PM
rating: 0
 
tigerdog

Will, what happened with Bobby Seay? Bobby was injured for much of the second half of the 2009 season with a shoulder issue. I'm convinced that it was bothering him and affecting his performance before he was actually shut down.
As he entered his third and final season of arbitration eligibility, the Tigers gave him a rather generous $ 2.45 million last December after they went through the motions of offering and accepting arbitration. Well, to make a long story short, Bobby showed up in the spring at Lakeland, but he never made it back in the mound. Was there a medical exam? Why didn't the team know what the issue was?
Then, there's the whole timing of his decision to go Under the Knife (fully intended, there) and now he's probably out for the 2011 season as well. This is particularly bad for Bobby, since he'd be a free agent after this season. Reports were that he was hesitant to undergo "career threatening" surgery which, at a minimum, would end his season. I think that few Tiger fans really expected him (or Zumaya, or Zach Miner) to return this season anyway.

I had expected that the Tigers would probably offer him a minor league contract, let him rehab at Lakeland, and try to make it back. I still think they will give him every opportunity, even though their contractual commitment to him is finished. The Tigers and Bobby really like each other. But what happened? Why didn't they know he was hurt? Or know the extent of his injury?

Sep 02, 2010 10:59 AM
rating: 0
 
eanderson76

Why does UTK not give a previous column link like in the past?

Sep 02, 2010 11:29 AM
rating: 3
 
gluckschmerz

Will Carroll's Rndm Crap

September 2, 2010
Seeking:

I’m looking for a web designer, preferably with experience in mobile designs. Here’s the key - must be cheap/willing to partner and *must* understand what I do. Experience with iPhone apps would be a massive plus. Inquire within — and if you can’t find my email, seriously …

Sep 02, 2010 11:59 AM
rating: -2
 
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