It’s getting tougher and tougher all the time. In addition to last-minute columns and an email inbox that threatens to burst at all times, the government has to get involved. The HIPAA regulations are bad enough, but despite some attempts to leverage them into a wall of silence, the law shouldn’t end up being much more than an administrative annoyance–but then again, we won’t know until things kick in on April 15th. It’s not just baseball, but everywhere, so be prepared for all sorts of new forms to sign when you’re sick.

The situation is a bit more critical up in Toronto where the Jays are currently without team doctors. After being left without necessary medical malpractice insurance in the wake of a very interesting case in Philadelphia, all three of the Jays’ team physicians have resigned. You may have seen these doctors–most notably Dr. Erin Boynton, who stood out due to her gender–on the field helping with the injury to Derek Jeter. I’m not sure where this leaves teams coming in to Toronto–teams usually do the courtesy of having the team doctor treat opposing players when necessary–or how it might affect the Montreal Expos, since they are a Delaware corporation. It’s a situation well worth watching, and at least as big of a problem as the Loon.

  • The early line on Ken Griffey Jr. follows what I said yesterday: It appears that there’s less damage in the shoulder than in the case of Phil Nevin, but there’s still something along the lines of a 50/50 shot that Griffey ends up under the knife. Still, the Reds are smart to roll the dice on the chance that Griffey could come back without the surgery. If you write him off now, he’s done. Even if there was just a 25% shot of a non-surgical course, I think it would be worth it to a team with as much riding on Griffey as the Reds apparently do.

  • As I said in the Cardinals THR, the one injury that the team could not handle–and they’ve had every other one–is a significant loss of Albert Pujols. Pujols has a mild hamstring strain, but is in no danger of a trip to the DL. While he would have missed Sunday’s game (which was conveniently rained out), Tony La Russa–who shall henceforth be known as “He Who Shall Not Be Named”–spots in his outfielders well. Add in the imminent return of J.D. Drew and this situation is as close to benign as the Cards can have with Pujols involved. By the way, Kerry Robinson is demanding a trade? To where? The Kansas City T-Bones?

  • Over on the pitching side for the Cards, Woody Williams also would have missed his scheduled start on Sunday, this time with a “crick in his neck.” I hope Williams highly technical explanation didn’t go over anyone’s head. He’s unlikely to have much of a problem, but Williams is getting to the stage of fragility where this is worth watching. A good sign for the pitching staff was that Matt Morris was pulled early–costing him a win–based on a pitch count. The plan was to pull him at 100 pitches, but he was allowed to go to 105. If this tack is taken for all Cards pitchers, they might miss some wins, but should get a lot more chances at wins by staying healthy.

  • The Rangers need to come up with something resembling a pitching staff in order to be mildly competitive. A big part of those hopes rest on Chan Ho Park, but Park’s fastball has deserted him and returned to Korea. According to the reports I got from participants in the Velocity Project, Park was having a hard time breaking 90. Of course, Brian Lawrence barely topped 85 and was effective, but it takes all types. I’m starting to wonder if Park is just done, or if there’s an injury besides the known nagging things that have plagued him for years.

  • It looked bad on film, but reports from Seattle have Edgar Martinez only missing a couple games with a mild hamstring strain. After what amounts to experimental hamstring surgery last year where a tendon was removed, Martinez is tougher to judge. There’s no comparables and his age, lack of mobility, and lack of need for mobility make getting a bead on his injury even tougher. Honestly, he shouldn’t be any different now than before and all forecasts for Edgar should have small vacations like this factored in.

  • There’s Brad Penny, back from suspension and loudly proclaiming his health. Sadly, no one charted his velocity, but he did get lit up in his first start of 2003. Color me doubtful.

  • Everyone seems excited that Darren Dreifort made it through a start without shattering. Fine. Good. The season is 162 games, or about 33 starts. Dreifort is still well in the “under” range of the ‘When does Dreifort hit the DL?’ play. His mechanics are still unbelievably bad and he shows little or no desire to correct it–and worse, what is Jim Colborn doing?

  • Quick hits: Kevin Millwood will likely miss one start after a mild groin strain. Millwood objects, but Larry Bowa is going to win this fight. Matt Clement had a good side session and will not miss his next start. He will be watched closely in what will be a cold Wrigley Field.

  • The D’backs have some problems–sorta. Losing Rod Barajas to the DL (hamstring strain) forces them to bring up a substandard replacement player. Barajas, on the other hand, is just about the defintion of replacement player with a mean VORP of 0.1. Does losing a player of this level cost you anything? Only if your “replacement player” is worse. In this case, there’s going to be a dropoff and I won’t be surprised to see Joe Garagiola Jr. go after a catcher at some point early in the season. Free Ramon Castro?

  • Watching Francisco Rodriguez is just painful to me. Sure, he’s talented, but every pitch could be his last, and all I can see where I watch him is Mark Fidrych, minus the wacky antics. Timmy Smith, anyone?

  • Todd Helton is dealing well with back problems. He recieved a cortisone injection just before spring training began, and is on some pretty high-powered anti-inflammatories in hopes that he won’t need therapy with more serious consequences for the team. Between Helton and outfielder Larry Walker, that’s a busy and important training room.

Back tomorrow with more injury info and prep for my Vegas trip. Tickets to “O” and Wayne Newton? Check. Reservations at Mandalay Bay? Check. Tuxedo that makes me feel like Danny Ocean? Check. Secret card-counting computer that Keith Woolner built in an undergrad class? I’ll never tell.

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