August 12, 2009
Under The Knife
Pain in Pairs
So it was a pretty incredible event on Monday night. Peter King might have showed up a bit later (blame the airline), but he stayed for three hours of football and baseball talk, reminding everyone of what a great storyteller he is. Some was off the record, some a bit off-color, but at the end of the day it was like talking sports with a neighbor, that guy you really like and wish you'd hang out with more. Of course, this neighbor is the best in the business and was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame just days before. It's pretty amazing that my two writing heroes-Peter King and Peter Gammons-have both been instrumental in my career. It's like I decided to play guitar, and then The Edge and Jack White came over to help. I was lucky enough to see Peter Gammons the day he was told he was going to the Hall; I was walking through the Winter Meetings with Jon Daniels, who'd been in meetings and hadn't heard. When I congratulated Gammons, Daniels had to ask why. Gammons got a sheepish grin and said, "I won the Spink. I got voted to the Hall." When I mentioned that King was newly inducted, he had that same look, that same smile. The other thing they have in common is the same passion for their game. I'll stop with the compliments-King already said that Adam Schefter's honorific in Sports Illustrated made him feel like he was dead-but I won't stop being inspired by their example. Powered by heroes, on to the injuries:
Orlando Hudson (8/15 ERD)
Chad Billingsley (8/17)
The Dodgers have what once seemed like an insurmountable lead, but the Rockies and Giants keep hanging around. They might need that big lead given the issues that the Dodgers have had with workloads. Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw are both going to be pushed into territory they haven't gone before by the time we reach the playoffs, and in Kershaw's case it will be well before. Billingsley might not get there now, given some shorter outings and the fact that he'll miss at least one start with a hamstring issue. That's both good and bad news-the break might help Billingsley not wear down, but any injury could cause more problems than it solves. The Dodgers are skipping Billingsley's scheduled start, but plan on him making his next start. Their doing that will be decided by a pair of throwing sessions and his subsequent physical response to them; the DL remains a possibility. It's also a possibility for Hudson, who will miss at least three games with a groin strain. He's always been a bit injury-prone, but he's never had this problem before. The team will hold him out until at least Friday and make a decision then. Early reports are that he should avoid the DL, but the team is aggressive at both trying to avoid the DL and returning players to the lineup.
Scott Rolen (8/30)
Johnny Cueto (8/15)
The Reds are doing the right thing by placing Rolen on the DL, but why did they wait? That's the question no one seems to have an answer for. Now that he's experiencing symptoms, we have to wonder what happened in the interim. Rolen is taking the ImPACT testing, the state-of-the-art test for concussion management, but again, why did they wait? He's seeing world-class experts in the field, but again, why did they wait? Concussions are tricky, granted, but it seems as if there was a fumble here. Rolen is new to the team and I'm sure was pushing to get back on the field, so I'm not blaming anyone, but I am asking, if you're going to do everything right, why wait? Rolen heads to the DL and there's no way of telling how much time he might miss. At least the news was mostly good for Cueto; after leaving his last start with what was then described as a hip pointer, he was able to throw, stretch, and run today without much issue. He's a bit risky, and there's some worry that there will be changes to his mechanics, but that's all speculative. It's a known issue, and as long as there's no significant underlying strain, Cueto should be able to be stretched out. Cueto remains without a win since he was snubbed for the All-Star team.
Aramis Ramirez (8/14)
Ted Lilly (8/17)
Ramirez did end up having a cortisone injection in his problematic shoulder yesterday, which gives us a reasonable expectation of seeing him back in the lineup on Friday. That is, if the injection worked. The inflammation and pain he's experiencing inside the shoulder combine to tell us that there's something wrong, and that Ramirez is likely headed for off-season surgery to correct some chronic and some traumatic issues. He'll have to play through pain in the meantime, and Lou Piniella will have to spot him in and out as necessary in order to keep him effective. In the meantime, the Cubs are going to be watching Lilly closely as he gets a rehab start for Peoria. If that goes well, he'll return to the Chicago rotation on Monday. The knee and shoulder have seemed fine in workouts, and it seems the surgery and rest worked well, respectively.
Nate McLouth (8/14)
Jones did it again, adding himself to the lineup late on Tuesday, and then hitting a home run. It's downright astounding how he's handled and how it actually works; I doubt there are many player/manager combos that could actually pull this off without breaking down the dynamics of the team. Jones' oblique strain is still an issue and could recur, but the home run is definitely a positive. It's not a positive that McLouth is still out, however. He missed the weekend with a mild hamstring strain, but was expected back after the offday. That he's still experiencing some issues is worrisome, but not too worrisome. McLouth will go out before Wednesday's game and test the leg. He'll be back in the lineup as soon as he's able to go all-out.
Billy Wagner (8/16)
Gary Sheffield (8/12)
It looks like my guess of "sooner, rather than later" is coming even sooner than I expected for Wagner. The rehabbing pitcher will be coming back this weekend for the Mets, dropping into the bullpen in what was described to me as "an undefined role that will showcase him, give him a chance to succeed, and-I won't lie-probably get him in the set-up role quick if everything goes right." That quote pretty much sums it up. The rehab from Tommy John has been pure TRIP, and with all the trade speculation, we'll have to see how things go. The Mets had been holding Sheffield back for a few days, hoping that a bit of rest will have the hamstring problem calmed down; then Sheffield had a long closed-door meeting with Jerry Manuel and is now is expected back today. The Mets need players and they need to keep their Disabled List from getting even lengthier, so this one's a tough balance.
Quick Cuts: It wasn't much of a fight really, but Rick Porcello needs to watch Bull Durham again, after using his right arm to throw Kevin Youkilis. ... Dexter Fowler is having some precautionary imaging done after bouncing hard off the wall Monday night. I'm curious-what kind of padding do outfield walls use and is it standardized? ... Torii Hunter started his rehab with an 0-for-2 at Rancho Cucamonga. He didn't have any visible trouble with the oblique. ... Conor Jackson is starting a rehab assignment after missing much of the season with Valley Fever. ... Todd Wellemeyer was scratched from his start with an elbow issue. The Cards are hinting that he's headed for the DL. ... Jake Westbrook has had another setback in his TJ rehab and will likely not return to the Indians this season. ... Jordan Zimmermann will have TJ and will miss all of 2010 as a result. ... J.J. Putz is still having some minor issues with his elbow, and will return a bit later than the expected August 20. ... Aaron Boone has started a rehab assignment after having to have open-heart surgery during spring training. Which is pretty amazing, when you think about it. ... The A's are bringing Justin Duchscherer back without a rehab assignment and will drop him into their rotation, which is a bit of a surprise. He'll be on a pitch limit of around 80 for Friday's game. ... Scott Schoenweiss was placed on the DL with depression. That's really understandable, and we can only wish him and his family the best. ... If you feel like you missed out on the Indy event, well, you did. You can make it up to yourself soon, though-King's coming back to the area to go to a Ft. Wayne game. I'm trying to figure out how to caravan up from Indy or you can meet us there, August 24th. I'll have more details soon.