Let’s just get right to it today…

  • With recent cases like Curt Schilling, Kurt Ainsworth, and now Matt Morris, it’s best not to take the first word based on an X-ray. Morris, after being struck by a liner through the box, was diagnosed with a broken knuckle on his pitching hand. Early estimates are for three-to-six weeks, but this injury might be in even more of a precarious location than Schilling’s similar injury. The fingers and the ability to use them in the course of pitching is unbelievably crucial. Any problem, even a slight one like soreness or the inability to make fine movements will render even a good starter useless.

    The Cards took a double hit as Morris’ in-game replacement, Jason Simontacchi, left the game with sharp pain is his triceps. While he’s been dealing with tendinitis, you’ll remember this is often a sign of elbow problems. It looks like the recently demoted (and delusional) Garrett Stephenson will be back in the rotation as Walt Jocketty searches for some kind of deal that works on the suddenly limited St. Louis payroll.

  • If you’re looking for good news on Mark Prior in the trade with the Pirates, it might be there. Jim Hendry wasn’t likely to make the deal if the Cubs weren’t contending, and without Prior for any extended period, the Cubs were not going to contend. While the MRI on Prior’s shoulder won’t be officially read until tomorrow, I have a feeling that Jim Hendry might know more than the Cubs are letting on. If there’s any upside in Prior’s DL stint, it’s that it gets him some rest and limits his innings. The Cubs’ deal was more forced by the loss of Tom Goodwin than anything else; Goodwin’s hamstring injury looks like it will put him on the DL, and makes the acquisition of Kenny Lofton even more important. Goodwin goes from a liability as a regular to something of a decent bench player, all things considered, once he returns to health.
  • Ben Grieve‘s blood clot is a bit more serious than first thought, or–more correctly–was a symptom of a more serious circulatory problem. In order to clear up an obstructed blood vessel, surgeons will remove a rib. Grieve is done for the season, but should be able to return. When he does, he may wear a small protective pad over the affected area.
  • Lots of questions about J.D. Drew coming in the Inbox with his name coming up in trade rumors. Drew is well into his career and the idea that he’s suddenly going to become a player that is healthy for a full season is not impossible, but certainly not something any team should rely on. Instead of Mickey Mantle, I think Rondell White is a more likely comparable–when healthy, quite productive. In the right situation, handled properly, not saddled with the weight of expectations, and with the proper rest and backup, Drew could help a team.
  • Kazuhiro Sasaki had another bullpen session, this time with two main differences–more pitches and a crouching catcher. Sasaki is making sudden, rapid progress in his return from fractured ribs and the time off can do nothing but help his balky shoulder. With Arthur Rhodes and Jeff Nelson struggling some and no trade on the horizon, the M’s would welcome back Sasaki as soon as he can be effective.
  • As Edgar Martinez is slowed (if that’s possible) by a calf strain, the Mariners will rest him some and remind him that running really isn’t something they expect him to do. He hasn’t been the type that could run out an infield single at any point in his career. The M’s smart usage of Martinez gives us an interesting look into what might be the perfect situation for none other than Ken Griffey Jr.. With Martinez in the twilight of his career, Griffey could slot right into the DH that doesn’t run slot. While he’s a different type of hitter than Martinez, I think many could see him excelling in that slot and in that ballpark. I have no idea how that could work financially, but as we’ve seen, no deal is impossible if it works for everyone. Maybe, for Junior, he can go home again.
  • Denny Neagle will head to the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic for a second opinion from noted surgeon Richard Hawkins. His elbow is not getting better and the quick recurrence puts Neagle’s career on the line. I’m unsure of the insurance situation for the contract, so this could help the Rockies in some small way if, like Mo Vaughn, an ineffective player is pushed aside without the significant financial hit. Neagle, we hope, won’t flirt with the concierges while in Vail.
  • Jason Giambi has been on a tear, roughly since I dealt for him in a fantasy league. No, I wasn’t psychic and I did give up Hank Blalock, but I like the deal since I had Eric Hinske. Giambi is dealing with a sore back, but there’s no major concern and with Nick Johnson back in the next couple weeks, he’ll get more opportunities to rest.
  • Quick Cuts: The Jays should get Cliff Politte and Josh Phelps back at some point in the near future. Both head out on rehab assignments this week…Chipper Jones‘ wrist is getting worse and could force him out of the lineup against some of the tougher lefties, perhaps more if pitchers learn to keep the ball inside on him. Of course, that’s easier said than done…Melvin Mora is still slightly dizzy and definitely looks more like a boxer than a ballplayer. The injuries aren’t serious, but the Orioles don’t have a good handle yet on when he’ll be back…Austin Kearns is probably more like a week away from a rehab assignment than most reports. No way will he come off the DL when eligible…Mike Sweeney still hasn’t resumed baseball activities and there’s no timetable for that event. Juan Gonzalez is the obvious and rumored trade target, but he may head to the DL with calf problems.

Short and sweet for the first time this week. I’ll see you tomorrow with more of the same…