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September 10, 2010

Under The Knife

A Leg and a Prayer

by Will Carroll

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Aaron Cook (fractured fibula, ERD 10/4)
A broken leg might not be season-ending? That's pretty aggressive. After seeing Cook crushed in the shin by a Joey Votto comebacker (preventable, by the way), there was little doubt that we'd seen the last of the right-hander this season. However, Jim Tracy was holding out some hope. Cook was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the fibula on his push leg. If you listen closely, you'll hear the crack of Cook's bone on this MLB video. Cook didn't have his leg planted, but the liner was probably moving at Aroldis Chapman speeds. There's very little real chance that Cook returns this season unless the Rockies go deep into the playoffs. The fact that it was the fibula helps, but I get the sense that Tracy was trying to be positive more than he was trying to be factual. Late word is that Jeff Francis will come off the DL to replace Cook.

Jorge Posada (head injury, ERD 9/10)
Jesus Montero (infected ankle)
The Yankees seemed a bit panicked Wednesday, but after all the facts came out regarding Posada, it was a very thoughtful and long-range plan that worked out. The Yankees sent Posada to the neurologist for testing after he had some mild symptoms after being hit by a foul tip. The Yankees have Posada tested every spring so they have a baseline level to judge against. After testing, Posada was cleared to return to activity. I'd love to see every team do something like this, even if only for catchers, so that situations like this could be handled just like this. The Yankees will be a bit conservative with Posada over the next week, so I'd expect to see him DHing or even on the bench. For those questioning why Montero isn't up in Posada's short absence, it goes to the 40-man roster (he's not Rule 5 eligible this offseason) and he's been dealing with an infection. Montero had a procedure on his left ankle that will keep him out for the rest of the season and silencing fans demanding he be called up. There's no ERD on Montero since he's not at the major-league level.

Andy Pettitte (strained groin, ERD 9/15)
Pettitte had no problems in his four-inning stint for the Double-A Trenton Thunder, who just happened to be in the playoffs. He was not just good, but dominant, allowing no runs or walks with four strikeouts. An observer said it looked like "vintage Pettitte" with no apparent problems with the groin. He went 51 pitches, which might not be enough to get him straight back to the Bronx, but it appears that Pettitte went up to his 65 pitch goal in the bullpen. If the Yankees still have any farm teams remaining in the playoffs next Tuesday, Pettitte will make a second rehab start. Expect the Yankees to announce the next step this weekend, but it looks like Pettitte is on track for what counts—October.

Jimmy Rollins (cramps, ERD 9/10)
Given the problems that Rollins had has this year in keeping his legs healthy, Phillies fans were right to gasp a bit when he went down limping. The word from the team is that Rollins was cramping due to dehydration, which is a legitimate problem, but shouldn't be. It's not like there isn't adequate hydration available for players, even on the hottest days. It's simple forgetfulness or lack of attention that creates problems like this. The recurrent nature of the problems this year make one wonder a bit, but the Phillies think Rollins will miss at most one game and that's a bit conservative. With the Braves still right there, the Phillies don't have the wiggle room in the National League East race to let one of their stars take too much time healing. Given the way the Phillies have come from behind in the regular season the last couple years and ended up in the World Series, I don't think the lack of rest is going to bother them. The Phillies know how to deal with October and their medical staff has got them as healthy as they've been all year right when it counts.

Bobby Jenks (ulnar neuritis, ERD 9/12)
Don Cooper told XM/Sirius that Bobby Jenks was having a "forearm issue." That was news to a lot of people, but it appears that Jenks' issue, whatever it might be, isn't serious. The diagnosis is ulnar neuritis, which is usually just an impingement—the nerve getting squeezed due to swelling somewhere along its length. It's not a good thing, but easily controlled and maintained. With J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton available now, Jenks can afford a day off, not that Ozzie Guillen was married to his longtime closer anyway. Jenks' struggles this season have been well noted but few have much of a physical component. Contrasting Jenks' relatively long stint at closer to someone like Trevor Hoffman (who deserves congrats for the 600th save no matter how he got there) is pretty amazing. 

Miguel Cabrera (biceps tendinitis, ERD 9/10)
Gerald Laird (strained back, ERD 9/15)
Cabrera is still being bothered by biceps tendinitis. It's not enough to keep him out while the anti-inflammatories are at work, but it's enough to throw off his swing. The Tigers elected to give him both Wednesday and Thursday off, hoping that the rest, paired with treatment, will get him back to a productive spot. There's no rush from a team context, but Cabrera is chasing an RBI title, for what that's worth and some MVP votes, which do have a dollar value for him. He's expected back in the lineup tonight. The Tigers are also unsure when, or even if, Laird will return. The catcher has been out over a week and there's some talk about shutting him down for the season. That decision won't be made just yet, if only to keep from overexposing Alex Avila and Max St. Pierre over the season's final few weeks. A decision will be made next week about Laird if the back doesn't clear up.

Brian Fuentes (strained back, ERD 9/15)
The Twins got damaged goods, it looks like. Fuentes' back problems have been recurring for a while, according to several sources. A "setback" during a throwing session is really more an expected result. Fuentes doesn't have a serious problem, but it is a chronic back issue, not good when your job description requires bending. An MRI that came back "without structural damage" didn't address the root cause, which is muscular. Until the Twins' medical staff can break up the pain/spasm cycle, they'll be without Fuentes. There's a bit of a rush, only in that the Twins' field staff wants to assess what Fuentes can give them—is he part of a closer committee or just a matchup reliever? It looks like they won't get a look at that until next week, at the earliest.

Quick Cuts: J.D. Drew left Wednesday's game with a sore hamstring. Watch to see if this is more precautionary or an actual injury. ... Jose Valverde has a "tender elbow" and will be shut down for a couple days. Tigers fans feel the pain. ... David Freese had surgery on his left ankle this week, after previous surgery on his right ankle. I hope he's got someone to help him around the house. ... Freddy Garcia had an injection in his back and is scheduled to start on Sunday. We'll see. ... Shawn Hill returned from Tommy John surgery to start for the Blue Jays. It's hard to imagine, but a second Tommy John surgery is no different than the first in any respect.

Related Content:  Back,  Fractured Ankle

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