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May 19, 2009

Under The Knife

Breaking Down

by Will Carroll

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Carlos Delgado (80 DXL)
When Alex Gordon found that he had a labral tear in his hip, it was almost a copy/paste from Alex Rodriguez. Aside from the etiology, which in Gordon's case is known and in Rodriguez's is publicly unknown, they were nearly identical. With Delgado, we can do almost the same thing, but we have to look to someone else for the comparison, in this case Mike Lowell. Both wore down with bone spurs in their hips, leading to the labral tear, and ended up at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, though with different surgeons. Lowell had the more 'complete' surgery as Chase Utley did, and a longer rehab, while it looks as if the Mets are heading for the hybrid surgery performed on the two Alexes (Alexii?). The focus will be on getting the bone spurs out and trying to minimize the fix to keep the rehab in that two-month range. I'm still not quite convinced that it's possible, and while I'm not questioning the Mets' doctors, I'm curious why they decided not to consult Dr. Marc Phillipon after his successes with the procedure, or even Brian Kelly, who performed Lowell and Utley's procedures. My guess is that we'll see a more extensive fix than the hybrid, and that Delgado will be out until well into August, hence that big DXL number.

Rickie Weeks (130 DXL)
It was the wrists that made Weeks such a great prospect that may end up ending his career. Scouts talked about his quick wrists, but on the inside, their tendons and ligaments simply couldn't handle the kind of force they generated. The latest injury for him is a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, the same type of injury that David Ortiz and Nick Johnson dealt with last season, and the same as what he had in his right wrist in 2006. It's an unprecedented pairing, according to most sources. I'm told that this one is much closer to a rupture than Ortiz's, necessitating surgery that will end his season. The injury occurred without any previous warning, and takes him out of a season where it appeared everything was finally coming together for him, working under the close mentorship of Willie Randolph. The questions now become, can he come back, and will he hold together at any point? Weeks' surgery has a six-month recovery period, though there often seems to be a lingering effect with wrist injuries, so he should be ready for spring training next year. As to whether he can ever hold together, there's just no evidence to suggest that, even as he enters what should be his peak seasons, he can stay healthy. It might be the one skill he doesn't possess.

Joey Votto (3 DXL)
The news on Votto is getting even weirder. I don't mean to sound alarmist, but being admitted to the Scripps Clinic is not a good sign. The acute symptoms continue to be in effect and the team and doctors are running tests. He's scheduled to be back in Cincinnati on Tuesday to meet with team doctors, in the hope of figuring out what's going on. Most signs continue to point to some sort of post-flu complication, such as an inner ear problem, though the Reds admit that they're not sure when Votto will be back in the lineup. It's impossible to say how much or even if he'll miss time, but it's clear that the issues are affecting him on the field.

Jeremy Bonderman (60 DXL)
There hasn't been a lot of news on Bonderman, to the frustration of the many Tigers fans who e-mail me asking for updates. The fact is that most of the rehab process is boring and procedural, going from one step to the next. It's a case where no news truly is good news, since if I'm reporting on it, it likely means that there has been a setback. Bonderman's rehab has gone more slowly than many—including myself—thought it would, but the team is being cautious and seems pleased with the progress made so far. Bonderman's first rehab start went long—94 pitches was more than everyone had been expecting, aside from the Tigers apparently—and he looked good aside from his velocity, which was down from his normal 92 at around 89 mph. That's not a significant difference, but Kevin Goldstein often reminds us that right-handers can't live below 90 and succeed unless they're Greg Maddux, and even Maddux was above that velocity until the end of his career. Bonderman's next start will be Wednesday in Toledo. The velocity will be the key, with some speculation that Bonderman might return to the pen for a time if he needs to build up more.

Frank Francisco (15 DXL)
Retroactive moves make it hard to have a mental time line. When a player goes on the DL, most people picture that he's shut down and stuck in the training room for hours on end, covered with ice packs and electrodes. For the Rangers' closer, though, the delay in putting him on the DL means that he's already throwing and prepping for his return. He began on Monday with a bullpen session that will lead to a simulated game on Wednesday. If all goes well with that and he recovers normally, he'll be back in the pen on Friday, though not necessarily closing out of the gate. In the meantime, skipper Ron Washington is likely to mix in C.J. Wilson and even Eddie Guardado, especially if save situations come up on back-to-back days.

Vladimir Guerrero (40 DXL)
It's been a while since we heard from Vladi and his torn pectoral muscle. (Remember, while you might think 'chest' after hearing pectoral, this tear is near the shoulder and affects his throwing more than his hitting.) It's healed up enough to let him swing a bat and start thinking about a minor league rehab stint. He'll head out, likely to the Cal League, where he can terrorize some young High-A starters for a few games, and he could be back shortly after that. What he won't do is throw, either on the rehab assignment or in the major leagues, at least for a while, because Guerrero is indefinitely limited to DHing; some team sources say they're not sure if he'll be able to play the field at all this season. If he does get out there, his arm won't be the weapon it once was, and he'll need to be spotted to keep his back and legs healthy. This isn't the Vlad we remember, but it's hard to call his Angels tenure a bad signing in any way.

Adam Jones (3 DXL)
Cesar Izturis (1 DXL)

The Orioles have some talent, but while they're waiting on God... err, Matt Wieters... to show up, they need to keep what they have on the field. The team is dealing with a few leg injuries right now, which is bad for a team predicated on speed and defense. Two of their best—or at least speediest—are dealing with issues that can affect their speed. The team is being cautious in bringing Jones back, knowing that as a young player his legs are an important asset for his long-term value; a team source compared Jones to Carl Crawford, which makes sense to me. The injury is not serious, but it does show how context affects the treatment of players. Remember, the training room is not where you go to be treated equally. The team is a bit less cautious with Cesar Izturis, hoping to get him back out on the field to keep his value up despite a mild groin strain. Both players should be back in action today, though they'll be running less over the next few days.

Brett Gardner (2 DXL)
A bruised rotator cuff is one of those injuries that make me step back and take a second look. The mechanism of injury on something odd like this is always interesting. I still can't tell from the available replays whether his arm was pulled back, or whether it was simply landed on in his dust-up at home plate with Joe Mauer. Either way, the injury isn't as serious as it sounds, leading me to believe it's a simple impact injury rather than a more serious structural issue. In the meantime, Gardner will miss a few days as they let the pain and swelling fade away, though he'd be available in an emergency.

Casey Blake (1 DXL)
Everything seems to be going right for the Dodgers right now, even when it comes to injuries. Blake injured his hamstring while running over the weekend and missed Monday's game, spending time in the training room instead of at third base. He did warm up with the team, but they were able to give him the night off to make sure he didn't re-injure the leg. He could be back as early as today, though it's likely that Joe Torre will make decisions on a day-to-day basis over the next few. When Juan Pierre has a 1000+ OPS, a team knows they're getting their share of lucky breaks and then some.

Quick Cuts: Things aren't getting better for Jose Reyes. The lower leg problem is more than just a calf strain, but there's still no decision on whether he'll go to the DL. ... David Ortiz is expected back in the lineup today, with Kevin Youkilis and Mark Kotsay rejoining the team in the next few days. ... Hiroki Kuroda threw a simulated game and could be back sometime next week for the Dodgers. ... Tom Glavine's simulated game went well and he'll head out for a rehab start or two. Sources tell me that if Glavine can't help the Braves, he'll retire and Tommy Hanson will get the call. ... Nyjer Morgan is expected back in the lineup soon after missing time with a leg injury. ... Billy Wagner is back in Florida throwing, and could be back before the end of the season for the Mets. While they're not expecting anything from Wagner, he would be a nice bonus and could end up "doing what [the Mets] thought J.J. Putz would be doing." ... Alex Cora is out for six weeks with a torn ligament in his thumb. A decision on surgery has not yet been made. ... Rick Ankiel is expected to come off of the DL when eligible on Wednesday. ... Seriously.

Related Content:  Back,  The Call-up

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

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JoshuaL

Any word on Elijah Dukes' hamstring injury (which he apparently reinjured Sunday)? I'll assume no unless you reply. Thanks!

May 19, 2009 10:47 AM
rating: 1
 
Brock Dahlke

Anything on Glen Perkins?

May 19, 2009 11:11 AM
rating: 0
 
cjgeisler
(199)

Not mentioned (probably because we don't know anything yet) is Glen Perkin of MN and his elbow problem, which he acknowledged AFTER giving up 6 runs in the first inning, a game the Twins would lose 7-6.

I'm trying to understand what he's thinking. Is he afraid of letting his team down, when in fact it's just the opposite that happens? Does he assume that there still isn't someone who is a better option than him? What's going through the athlete's mind when this happens? Just curious on peoples thoughts on this. Thanks.

May 19, 2009 11:12 AM
rating: 0
 
Richie

Possibility #1: Pitchers always pitch with some pain, or soreness. (do they, Will?) Sometimes it gets worse as they go along, AFTER which they know "well, I guess I should'na tried it." Variant #1a: You notice things hurting alot more after giving up 6 runs.

Possibility #2: You DON'T ask out unless the trainer rules you out. You just DON'T. Looks awful, especially when nobody else does, either.

Possibility #3: No, I don't wanna give my backup any chance to better me that they don't first give him. Just go out there and try. Heck, maybe I'll get a bunch of at'em balls.

May 19, 2009 11:50 AM
rating: 0
 
Ameer

HAHAHA! Thanks for the link to that Steve Phillips article! I was watching the game with that first quote about "the flawless player" and when I heard it, I had to call my baseball buddy and tell him. Ridiculous.

May 19, 2009 12:05 PM
rating: 0
 
Ameer

Another thing -
The Weeks injury is really kind of interesting to me. The only other player I can think of that has that kind of violent wrist action Weeks has is the obvious comparison, Sheffield. Maybe there's a reason we don't see swings like this very often? It seems likely that most people's tendons/ligaments can't handle that kind of force and that Sheffield is an extreme, extreme outlier.

Maybe I'm wrong and Weeks' swing doesn't generate any more force on his swing than someone with a cleaner swing, like Berkman, and that he's just injury prone. But it's interesting, nonetheless.

May 19, 2009 12:33 PM
rating: 0
 
Ameer

"any more force on his swing" is supposed to read "any more force on his wrists."

May 19, 2009 12:34 PM
rating: 0
 
Pat Folz

On the subject of Weeks, I wonder if there might be some benefit to Weeks (and others with chronic wrist problems) to use a lighter bat? It's hard to say how it'd affect the rest of his swing, but all things being equal less force should be required for his swing. It'd probably reduce his power but might help his contact rate.

May 19, 2009 18:47 PM
rating: 0
 
Richie

Sheffield also had wrist problems when younger. I recall them coming up with some wrist-strengthening exercises for him, after which he had no more problems.

May 19, 2009 13:09 PM
rating: 0
 
mdupske

I have a general question. Why do teams place players (like Weeks) on the 15-day DL when they know full well that they are not coming back for the rest of the season? Why don't they at least start them out on the 60-day DL? Weeks isn't going to be back in two months no matter what.

May 19, 2009 20:01 PM
rating: 2
 
Bill N

I think it's more of a "why not" thing.

May 20, 2009 09:52 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Unless a team needs to make a 40-man roster move, there's no advantage to using the 60. There's also some internal reasons, such as worker's comp and injury tracking.

May 20, 2009 10:12 AM
 
David Coonce

I'm curious - do teams have to file worker's comp forms when a player is injured? And in that case does the team's insurer pay the player while he is injured?

May 20, 2009 11:56 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I think whether a player's salary is covered by insurance or not is actually in the player's contract. I remember some kind of injury flap over a contract... Lenny Dykstra or Mo Vaughn maybe?

I didn't know players could get worker's comp though.

May 20, 2009 19:27 PM
rating: 0
 
Drew Miller

The concept of "BAWSIW" should be expanded to include other broadcasters/pundits. I propose BAWTHIW (Batting Average While Talking Head Is Watching).

May 19, 2009 12:42 PM
rating: 0
 
elidman

so glad phillips is getting called out for his indefensible attack on beltran sunday night. what pure nonsense, pandering to 'vinny from queens' and the reactionary boobs that make up new york sports tabloid journalism (i'm talking to you, wfan) ... beltran is one of the 10 best players in baseball, and it shouldn't take joe morgan to point this out to phillips ...

May 19, 2009 18:04 PM
rating: 2
 
Drew Miller

I have the sense that Phillips is still bitter from being tossed on his ear by the Mets.

May 20, 2009 06:16 AM
rating: 1
 
ashitaka

Thank you for linking that Berg piece. That broadcast was nonsense.

May 19, 2009 12:40 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess

I couldn't take it either. I hit the mute button.

Yes, Steve, we get that the Mets fired you. Move along now.

May 19, 2009 22:31 PM
rating: 2
 
Ameer

You know, it's funny I didn't even consider that's why Phillips might be ripping the Mets. That makes sense though.

May 20, 2009 06:16 AM
rating: 1
 
Brian Kopec

Joey Votto is conjuring ghosts of Nick Esasky.

May 19, 2009 12:56 PM
rating: 0
 
Drew Miller

God, I hope not. Vertigo is terrible.

May 20, 2009 06:46 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

Oh wow ... I hadn't even thought of that one.

May 20, 2009 10:13 AM
 
dzg2102

On Delgado worth asking if the Mets have an "exclusive" relationship with the Hospital for Special Surgery that precluded them from seeing the doctor in Colorado

May 19, 2009 13:36 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

There's no exclusive. A player has the right to a second opinion. He must have been comfortable enough not to invoke that.

May 20, 2009 10:13 AM
 
iillllii

Regarding the DXL numbers, are those updated every time a new UTK is published? Or are they estimated initially and then rolled forward until the player comes back healthy? If it's the latter, it would be beyond clutch if we could get 'as of' dates in there.

May 19, 2009 13:53 PM
rating: 1
 
Dr. Dave

"the two Alexes (Alexii?)"

Unfortunately, if you went for the Latinate plural you would get 'Alices'.

May 19, 2009 14:06 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Will Carroll
BP staff

That's even better!

May 20, 2009 10:12 AM
 
Richard Bergstrom

Must be a relief for Christina to read through a UTK without a mention of a Cubs player.

May 19, 2009 16:03 PM
rating: -1
 
Peeig13

What about Edwin Encarnacion, how is he progressing?

May 19, 2009 19:27 PM
rating: 0
 
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