Will Carroll's Under The Knife is called the "industry standard" by
Peter Gammons and that's good enough for us. Carroll's groundbreaking
work on injuries have led to it becoming a standard part of the
discussion in baseball. Whether you're a fantasy fan or checking out
how your team will be without a star, there's simply no other place to
get this kind of daily information.
Top teams lose top talents in the AL, B-Rob's bad break in Bal'mer, and a double dip of Hawk citations in today's injury roundup.
Joe Mauer (heel bruise, TBD)
The term "stone bruise" is kind of archaic and not really that helpful, but it's accurate when it comes to describing what has happened to Mauer. He injured his heel on a play at first base: he was 'stretching' on a close play and hit heel-first, hard. With the type of cleats he wears, it seems that he hit something or hit it in just the wrong way, pushing into his heel. It's a simple bruise, but because of the location and nature of it, there's not much besides rest than can cure it. At first, it appeared to be one of those annoying things that a player can play through, missing a couple days, but by Sunday, it was clear that this was not only more serious, but seems to be headed toward a more extended absence. Ron Gardenhire's "week to week" comment brought out the worst-case scenario, but quotes from Mauer don't seem nearly as dire. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if the Twins decided to DL Mauer as a precaution, keeping him out the minimum to make sure that the situation is rectified. There's no reports that Mauer isn't weight-bearing, so the idea that this would extend beyond a week is a bit surprising. We'll have to keep a close eye on this, but there's no sign that this is going to be anything more than a short-term issue.
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Closers, middle infielders, and rotation horses with various flavors of bad news, plus a catcher's quick comeback.
Brian Roberts (disc problem in back, ERD 4/15)
Knowing usually helps. With Roberts, the O's know, but they're no better off. Roberts continues to have problems with a disc in his back. Initial treatment offered little relief, pushing the team to send Roberts back to Baltimore. Team doctors decided at that point to give Roberts an epidural injection. While many think about childbirth when hearing the term, this is different. The full term is epidural steroid injection, but you can imagine why many try to avoid that term. This is corticosteroids, so just stop. This is a very involved procedure, as this excellent video shows. Note here that the injection is to give pain relief. It does nothing to correct the underlying problem. By breaking the pain-spasm cycle1; the hope is that the other things the medical staff is doing, like stretching and modalities, will take effect. The effects of the injection last about a week, so look to see what's going on with Roberts early this week for an indication of whether he'll get a chance to start the season on the field rather than the DL. Right now, that looks unlikely. With the depth issues behind Roberts and in their lineup, the Orioles need this one to clear up as quickly as is safe.
Jose Reyes' thyroid condition does not appear to be serious, but Joe Nathan could be facing surgery.
It's the first UTK of the season. Normally, I do these on Fridays during spring training, but there was just too much misinformation out there on a couple of these cases to wait for the end of the week. I'm excited about another season—my ninth!—of doing UTK, a run that will cross the 1,000-column mark sometime in May. As always, I'm trying to be better at it, to get you the information you want in a readable, understandable way. To help, I'm making a few changes. My continued quest for a quick way to put an expected return date shifts now to what you'll see below. After the player's name, you'll see the condition and the ERD. The ERD is a very, very, very rough guess, based on the best information at the time. It's designed to be more of a "quick look" than a definitive time frame, so it will change from day to day if the information has changed or if a team gives better guidance. I think having the condition readily available will help as well for those of you that just skim UTK.
Teams exercise caution as they gear up for their final kicks.
If you haven't seen the amazing guest list for Saturday's Pittsburgh event yet, go look. If you can get there and yes, I hear that it's Labor Day, but hey, it's Labor Day for us too. It will be a great evening of baseball talk and hopefully a nice baseball game as well. At worst, Albert Pujols will be there-at the game, not our event. I love doing these and wish we could get them to the point where we could do them everywhere. I always say I'll show up anywhere, but it's at a point where I think teams should be doing more. A night like Jamey Newberg's event in Arlington, with 300 hardcore fans, or what we did in Tampa two years ago with season ticket holders-that's a value-add. I hope BP could be involved, but if not, I'd like to see more GMs have the savvy to answer questions directly from the people that count, the fans. Anyway, I hope to see you Saturday and instead of complaining that we didn't come near you, help make it happen.
More bad news for the denizens of Flushing Meadows, a number of players playing through hurts with various levels of success, and more.
Hanley Ramirez (5 DXL)
The Marlins are either positive that Ramirez's hip is fine, or they just don't understand how the DL works. All evidence points to the former after the team used Ramirez as a pinch-hitter in Thursday's game, wiping out the possibility of a retroactive DL move. Ramirez went through a normal pre-game routine, even taking grounders, but he was once again held out of the lineup, the fifth start he's missed. The hip flexor strain continues to bother him. Sources tell me he's mostly bothered on the first step while his lateral movement "isn't so bad." The team thinks that he'll play this week, but they'll be cautious with him and think that the All-Star break will help him heal up. They fully expect him to be ready once games start up again next week, but with the continued 'minor' leg injuries, I'm curious whether the Marlins truly think this is a simple list of unconnected problems, or if there's some underlying cause that will crop up again sometime, in some similar way.
The latest news on the walking wounded and the broken-winged.
Scott Kazmir (30 DXL)
Kazmir made it through his first rehab start and is heading to Triple-A for his next one. That's good news, but the more important things happened well away from the field. Kazmir made a trip to Birmingham and then to New York, in an attempt to fix his mechanics and get him back on track. With the leg healed, Kazmir visited ASMI, and I'm told by sources that it was a good session. Not only were they able to identify some things to work on (Kazmir had visited and been tested a few years back, when Rick Peterson took a group of Mets pitchers there), but they were also able to compare the results. Kazmir followed this up with a trip to New York, where he met up with Peterson to go over the results. The Rays are very involved in the process, with Andrew Friedman personally monitoring the situation. It might be a little awkward to credit the Mets and a lab for a comeback, but the Rays will gladly do so if Kazmir is able to come back effectively. That could happen as soon as next week.
Whether it's starting pitchers flaming out or catchers getting clocked covering home, some things have been with us for far too long.
Dustin McGowan (70 DXL)
I want to throw an "I told you so" out at the Jays, but it feels hollow. Despite noting his big jump in innings back in the Jays Team Health Report and knowing that there was no way his damaged shoulder was going to make it back without surgery, this is just another of those instances when I didn't want to be right. We can discuss the Verducci Effect, we can note that none of the burgeoning biomechanics sites cited McGowan as being in any particular danger, but in the end, McGowan is just another pitcher headed to the operating table, and we really have no idea why. The hope is that the rotator cuff and labrum aren't so far gone that they'll cost him more than just the end of 2008 and much of 2009, but that's not much consolation, and there's not much of a lesson learned either. He's just another pitcher, just another casualty, and the Jays will replace him, just as it has been done in the game every time a pitcher falls for over a century.
With the minor league season fully in the books, some random notes on the prospect universe.
I'd make a horrible blogger. I save stuff all the time, basically hoping it will become some kind of full-sized piece, but it rarely does--either there's not enough there, or I move on. With the minor league season at an end, it's kind of a slow time for us prospect folks. I'll have some extended previews of the upcoming offseason leagues set to begin in Arizona and Hawaii, and I'm excited about the quality of both, but in the meantime, there's not a ton to write about other than your standard review stuff, so in lieu of that, here are a few things I've been noticing or thinking about:
Will shares his thoughts on David Price's workload, and passes on updates on Jon Lester, Pedro Martinez, Jason Schmidt, Roy Halladay, and Chipper Jones.
The draft is coming. The first question people ask is, who's going to be picked? Kevin Goldstein's Top 50 can give you a fine idea, and his mock draft later on this afternoon will give you even more. The second question, the one I immediately ask, is who's been overworked? You'd expect that I'd go off on David Price's workload, about the impending #1 overall coming in tired to relieve and getting shelled. You'd expect that I'd talk about Rice's program, blaming bad luck for all their injuries, including a shoulder problem for another first rounder, Joe Savery. (Note to Rice: For a smart school, that's a dumb answer.) You'd expect that I'd disagree with Tom Verducci on workload with young pitchers like Tim Lincecum. But I don't.
The Cubs shuffle through pitching options, the Brewers have one of the most interesting rosters in the game, and the Dodgers fight through injuries as they try to stay in the race. This and much more in Transaction Analysis.
A day that started in Great American Ball Park ended in the Lucky Bean Cafe.
At least I got to spend the day in the sun, watching a mismatch between the Reds and Nationals, keeping my streak of never catching a foul ball alive. (Never even been close.) A bad game in the sun is better than a good day almost anywhere else.