April 17, 2009
Under The Knife
Teach Me Lessons
Alex Gordon (60 DXL)
Alex Rodriguez... copy... paste. It would be easy to do that: to say that Gordon's injury is so equivalent to Alex Rodriguez's that I could go green and just recycle some of my words. Injuries are individualized, however, and no two people, not even two third basemen named Alex with the same injury, are going to react in the same way. The problem is, I don't see any differences. Gordon is going to have the same procedure on something that sounds like the same injury performed by the same doctor. Gordon is said to be a workout freak who's in great shape, so his conditioning should work in his favor just as it has for Rodriguez. That leaves us with the same timetable, six to eight weeks for a return, though it's difficult to say if Rodriguez is ahead of the timetable or if he is in fact setting it. In the meantime, the Royals will shift Mark Teahen to third base. As to why there's an "epidemic" of hip injuries, it's mostly the result of a change in diagnostics. These types of injuries present as a groin strain, so it's current thinking that chronic groin strains of the past might have actually been lingering hip problems.
Vladimir Guerrero (3 DXL)
In most situations, "going to see Dr. Yocum" is the West Coast version of "going to see Dr. Andrews," but people forget that Lewis Yocum is also the team doctor for the Angels, and he has been for some time. That's important when it comes to the reasons that Guerrero made the trip, because this isn't a specialist visit, but merely a problem that Guerrero is having being bumped up to the team physician for further study. His pectoral problem is on the shoulder side of the muscle, and it's preventing him from making any throws without pain. The roster flexibility for the Angels goes to near-zero with Guerrero locked in at the DH slot. The questions now are how chronic is this problem, and how or when can the Angels expect him back in the field? We'll have to see what changes post-visit, but in the short term, everyone is locked into the status quo. There is some chance that they'll DL him to try and work on this, but it doesn't sound as if they're ready to go that far.
Ervin Santana (30 DXL)
John Lackey (40 DXL)
The Angels are finally beginning to see some progress with their injured pitching staff. Held together with duct tape for the first two weeks of the season, it looks as if Lackey is closer than previously thought, though that may not be a good thing. Convinced that he's not going to be an Angel long-term, Lackey is pushing his rehab and saying that, while he still has some pain in his elbow, he's willing to pitch through it. He made it through a batting practice session, and wants to go on a rehab start sometime next week. The Angels want to see how his elbow reacts before committing to that, but if he does head out, they'll likely keep him close, and on a very low pitch count. Best guess now is that he'll return around May 1, though that's very fluid. Santana also threw at that batting practice session, also going about 45 pitches. Things went better for Santana, who said that he felt no pain. He'll throw a few more times in the pen before the Angels send him on a rehab assignment. He could be in the rotation before the calendar flips, but it won't be by much. The Angels are concerned about his stamina, and they're debating whether or not to keep Shane Loux around as a "shadow" for his first couple of starts.
Jose Valverde (1 DXL)
LaTroy Hawkins got the save for the Astros last night instead of Jose Valverde, leading many to wonder why the Houston closer wasn't used. It's not as if he's going to get that many opportunities with the Astros this season, he hasn't been overused, and even Cecil Cooper wouldn't make such a drastic change for no reason. No, the simple answer is that Valverde woke up with a stiff back, and the Astros decided it would be better to play it safe with their closer, and instead used Hawkins with the three-run lead. Valverde's back is not considered a serious or long-term problem, so he'll be back out there soon.
Kenji Johjima (21 DXL)
Johjima was pushed to the DL with a hamstring strain, but the story here is that Jeff Clement wasn't called up to replace him. Johjima will be out for at least the 15 days, but Don Wakamatsu described the strain as "significant," and indicated that he thought his starting catcher would be out a little longer than the minimum. Rob Johnson will take the bulk of the catching load while Johjima is out, with Jamie Burke coming up to serve in the backup role. With Clement having started at shortstop and focused on first base, he's gone from catcher of the future to possibly having no future at all with the gear on.
Yunel Escobar (5 DXL)
Here's one that I haven't heard before. Escobar strained an abdominal muscle by jumping up and down in the on-deck circle. I'm not sure why he was jumping up and down, or how that led to the injury, but hey... there it is. The Braves think he'll miss the weekend, but abdominal injuries are tough to read. Don't be surprised if there's more time missed, since the danger here is that he comes back and is affected by the strain when he tries to hit. The DL seems to be a stretch, but we should know more this weekend, depending on how they elect to rehab the injury. Escobar isn't a power bat, so it will be a little harder to tell if it has much effect on him at the plate.
Tim Lincecum (0 DXL)
While everyone is trying to figure out "what's wrong with Linececum?", Lincecum knows what's wrong. Right now, it's not his mechanics or his command-it's his flu-like symptoms. The team sent him home on Thursday rather than having him do his normal between-starts work. Everyone says that Lincecum is still going to pitch on Saturday, but much of that will depend on how he reacts. If he's still sick or even weakened, the Giants will likely make a switch. It wouldn't surprise me if they juggled things today just to play it safe. The easy move of flip-flopping the weekend starters can't be done, since the Giants don't want to mess with Randy Johnson's prep. We should know more later on Friday. Lincecum's poor start, combined with this illness and a drive to excel, make for a challenging combination.
Jorge Campillo (20 DXL)
It's hardly a case like that of Daisuke Matsuzaka, but Bobby Cox is blaming the WBC for Campillo's injury. He's headed to the DL with tendonitis in his pitching shoulder. He has been so injury-prone during his career that finding any one thing to blame is almost laughable, but if there's any knock on Bobby Cox's amazing run as Braves manager, it's his understanding of injuries. (Small, small potatoes compared to his results.) Campillo will be shut down for a week or so in hopes that the soreness and fatigue in his shoulder will quiet down, so the Braves don't expect him to be out of commission for much beyond the minimum. With his history, I'll say that it will take a little longer than that.
Xavier Nady (170 DXL)
There's no change here with Nady's elbow, but given some of the questions in your e-mails to me (and Twittered! @injuryexpert), there's a lesson here for some on the reasons that the DL is there. There are only two DLs in MLB: the 15-day and the 60-day. The 15-day DL gives active (25-man) roster relief, allowing a team to bring up a player to replace the injured player for 15 days or more. How much more? A player could be on the 15-day DL all season. The 60-day DL offers relief for the 40-man (reserve) roster. A team can bring a player onto the active roster without clearing space through waivers by placing someone on the 60-day DL. Again, it's a minimum, not a maximum. The fact that the Yankees put Nady on the 15-day doesn't mean that they think he'll be back, just that they need active roster relief. Also, a player can be transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day, but not vice versa.
Quick Cuts: Joe Mauer will begin his extended spring training games on Monday. He's "running better" this week. ... Mark Teixeira had a cortisone shot in his wrist, but there has been no mention of him missing a couple of days to let it take hold. It would be unusual if he didn't, so watch the lineup. ... Joel Zumaya is playing in Single-A, but I haven't seen any reports on his velocity there. He'll pitch at a higher level before coming back. ... Dontrelle Willis will make a rehab appearance in Lakeland early next week. I have no idea what to look for. ... Gotta like the talent over at Hardball Cooperative. More experience than your average blog. ... Doug Mientkiewicz is headed to the DL with a shoulder separation. Blake DeWitt is the likely replacement, though there's some talk that Xavier Paul might be called up.