If Dr. Tim Kremchek sends me a bill for the two hours he spent out of surgery today–discussing everything from his love for the game to the ins-and-outs of building a world-class medical facility with everything from an MRI on site to an indoor field where Bill Doran and Tom Browning offer instruction–I’ll be more than happy to fork over the cash. (Well, not really, but you know what I mean.)

That said, my talk with Dr. Kremchek was really enlightening. There will be a feature coming next week, but I’ll say in this forum what I said to Dr. Kremchek today: much of what I’ve written about him may have been an incorrect interpretation of information. Given the proper context, Kremchek’s work can be taken a completely different way without changing the basic facts.

Oh, and I saw Ken Griffey Jr.‘s rehab too. Like I said, more on that next week.

  • Jack McDowell blasted pitch counts in his Yahoo! Sports column yesterday, and while he has an interesting point, he overlooks one simple medical fact. Long time UTK readers will remember George Ronczy’s look at the effect of warm-up pitches that brought in an email from Dr. Frank Jobe. Jobe pointed out a number of studies that showed that there is no transfer of stress from muscle to ligament until a pitch is thrown with 75% effort. Most warm-up pitches are thrown at this level or less, rendering the “Why don’t warm-ups count?” argument all but moot. His arguments that pitch counts are oversimplified is both true, but counteracted by PAP.

  • The Mets did another good news/bad news day. While Mike Piazza was held out when his groin remained sore yesterday, they did get Pedro Astacio back in the rotation. Astacio looked pretty good, going 85 pitches with slightly below normal velocity, but most importantly he was effective. It will be more important to see how Astacio looks in his next start. Anyone can pitch once–it takes a healthy pitcher to recover properly.

    Meanwhile, David Cone was given a cortisone shot in his hip to reduce some swelling in his hip flexor. Cone will likely miss slightly more than his originally expected 15 days, but he seems resistant to the idea of spending some time in the minors. With the Mets collapsing, I’m not sure if they need to commit to the future and wish Mr. Cone adieu, or if they should thank Cone with being interesting enough to bring people to Queens.

  • The Expos don’t have the depth to survive major injuries and maintain their current pace. Tony Armas Jr. was placed on the DL with a strained rotator cuff. Expos sources call the move “precautionary” and no course of action besides rest and therapy is under consideration at this point. The Expos are being very cautious with their players this year. While it probably means nothing, it could be that they’re protecting the property of the next owner… or more likely keeping their tradeable commodities tradeable.

  • Unit fans, rejoice. Randy Johnson threw 57 pitches at “full effort” and reported no problems with his right (landing) knee. The final test will be this morning when Johnson’s knee either swells or does not swell. Barring setbacks, Johnson should start again on Sunday.

  • Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon-Journal is keeping a close eye on C.C. Sabathia. Ocker reports that Sabathia’s velocity is off, but that he gained velocity through his outing. This is extremely uncommon in a start of normal length, absent a factor like weather. Sabathia has been effective, but like the firecracker that you think is a dud, you never really know if it won’t explode.

  • The Rangers certainly have enough bats after lighting up Derek Lowe, but they sorely lack pitching and pitching depth. They’ll be a bit worse off for at least the short-term. Ismael Valdes, their probable ace, was sent to the DL with shoulder stiffness. Word from the Rangers is its tendinitis. Valdes has always been reasonably good when healthy, but that ‘when’ is all too infrequent.

  • Brian Moehler was placed on the DL by the Astros with pain in his pitching elbow. Moehler has quite the recovery from a torn rotator scuff–I mean, cuff–and this latest problem is a bit worrisome. Is it a compensation injury, the result of altered mechanics, or does it have no relation to the previous injury? We’ll watch to see if that can be determined. Early reports from the Astros seem spurious and some sources have Moehler headed for a cortisone shot in the very near future.

  • Proving the TINSTAAP orthodoxy correct, the latest of the Padres wunderkind to come up lame is Dennis Tankersley. His one start in 2003 was simply awful, and one hopes that at least some of that could be blamed not on a lack of talent, but a failing of his tools. Not a major failing, but something small and easily corrected. In a world that once waited for no less than eight great prospects from the Padres minor leagues (Perez, Peavy, Tankersley, Cyr, Nady, Gautreau, Bozied, Burroughs) only half are in the majors at this time, and only Peavy could be called “solid” at this point. The key to developing one good major league player is funneling 10 good prospects to the major leagues.

  • Jermaine Dye has been dealing with some lingering remains of his shattered leg, a sore shoulder, and yesterday left the game in the fifth inning with a sore knee. At “press time” there were no details available, but as always, check RotoWire or your favorite source for more info by the time you read this.

I got another reminder as to why I drive a Volvo tonight. I was blasted by a pickup truck that was backing up, tailgate down. Despite no warning and no seatbelts, the impact was scary, but no one was injured in the slightest. The trunk of my beloved Turbo is bent pretty badly, but the car drove away fine. Maybe I will put that nitrous in there when I get it fixed.

The days of anonymity are over. I’ll leave it for you to decide how much of your freedom is gone now. Freedom, like the body, operates under the ‘use it or lose it’ principle.