MLB and the MLBPA issued an unprecedented rumor control on Tuesday, quashing the multitude of rumors. Or did it? Bud Selig also admitted on Tuesday that one player is in process, a “young player” according to the AP. The document has to be taken at face value. Signed by Gene Orza and Rob Manfred, those two men would stand to lose far too much credibility if their statement was false or even overly parsed. Rumors are sometimes just rumors, but there’s been too much smoke not to check for fire.

Powered by a memory–back in the mid-eighties, I left for two weeks to go to wrestling camp in Iowa. This is before the days of the Internet, so I was surprised to come back and find that the Cubs had not won a single game while I was gone. Sigh. On to the injuries:

  • Jim Thome made it official on Wednesday, electing to have surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his damaged elbow. Jim Andrews will clean out damage that sounds like a combination of wear, bone chips, and a frayed tendon. All in all, it’s not that serious in the long term. If the symptoms are taken care of, the pain should be gone well before spring training and we’ll all get a chance to see if the apparent erosion of Thome’s skills was the pain or if it was a true measure. My guess is somewhere in between. Thome’s situation will be a major issue for the Phils off-season–can they trade him and will his inability to produce cost anyone a job? The Phillies also shut down Cole Hamels for the season. That’s two nearly lost seasons and any injury nexus bonus is lost to inexperience. I once said Hamels could be a left-handed Mark Prior. When I said it, I didn’t mean injury-prone.
  • John Smoltz ran out of gas in the eighth. Many have wondered how Smoltz would handle his return to the rotation. So far, so good, but we’re into the stages where his stamina will be tested. The Braves will likely be able to buy him some extra rest, getting John Thomson and Mike Hampton back while continuing to spot in Kyle Davies and some of the other fill-ins. It certainly looks like Smoltz is losing his edge earlier in games. He was a solid 100-pitch guy prior to the ASB; now, he’s visibly done at 85-90. If I’m noticing, Leo Mazzone is noticing and changes will be made.
  • Roy Halladay had a setback during fielding drills, calling the date of his next start into question. Halladay’s broken tibia is still sore and limits his mobility just a bit too much for the Jays’ liking. Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg (who’s in line for an apology from me) told that the setback wasn’t serious and, while avoidable, was a natural pitfall. Halladay should still get back on the mound soon; Monday just doesn’t look like the best candidate. My observer at the session said Halladay’s pitches looked good and laughed about Arnsberg working as the catcher during the session. It’s the first time I’ve had a report of a major league pitching coach doing that.
  • There are as many rumors about Carl Pavano as there are about steroids in baseball right now. Several sources have told me things about Pavano, but for now, we’ll stick with the party line. Pavano shut it down for six weeks–likely meaning the rest of the season–due to continued swelling and pain in his pitching shoulder. With no return date for Kevin Brown on the horizon, only Jaret Wright looks to be ready to help the Yankees rotation. He’ll be back in the rotation on Monday, taking on the Devil Rays. Joe Torre and Mel Stottlemyre will have their creativity tested as they work Wright back in, find fill-ins while Randy Johnson is out, and try to find wins from a staff that is proving that free talent is available.
  • The Astros big three will stay at three. Brandon Backe, expected to rejoin the team next week, is now looking at a couple more weeks of rest before re-starting his rehab. He had been scheduled to throw a simulated game on Thursday, but pain during his last session led doctors to slow him down. Backe is still expected back–no pun intended–by September, but his role in the playoffs is likely to be from the bullpen given current circumstances. Backe’s best role might be to buy some rest for Roy Oswalt, who’s showing some signs of wear down the stretch.
  • Quick Cuts: Brian Jordan is rehabbing his knee and will be a September call-up … Mike Hampton threw five solid innings in a rehab start. He could come up as early as next week … Lots wrote in with a request for me to do a breakdown of Felix Hernandez‘s mechanics. I’d love to, if I find some pictures I can get permission to use here … Jarrod Washburn will be activated on Friday and should start against Seattle.

Back tomorrow on a big day.