Even when I try to be “short and sweet”–tough for a guy who’s six feet tall and arrogant as hell–it seldom works. What I don’t say in UTK often ends up in emails, and since I have this near pathologic need to answer every email, I skipped some yesterday. (I apologize if one of yours was one of them.) One reader challenged me to expand on my “Tony Gwynn is full of crap” statement–and I’ll agree, what I said was abbreviated and had the bare minimum in the way of explanation. To fully say what I think, though, I would have to deviate further from my format as a Gammonsesque “notes” column, and end up with literary loose bowels.

Now, does the situation deserve a more full account? Yes. The drug situation does not need knee-jerk reactions. When I helped write the piece on Steve Bechler’s death, I stayed as far away from the mainstream coverage as possible, trying to take as many factors as possible into account to get to the facts of the situation. I’ve taken on the use/abuse of creatine since the genesis of this column. Now, my take on drugs in baseball is moving from something I can’t ignore to a feature and potentially something in a longer format. Ideally, it will come out later this year or even perhaps as a BP2K4 piece. Yes, the issue demands a proper response…so please give me time to do it right.

  • A reader cried foul on me recently, arguing that I give short shrift to bad teams, like his favorite team, the Orioles. Not true! I skip all kinds of injuries and never claim to be exhaustive in this format. When I have nothing to add to the discussion (as I haven’t had recently regarding Lance Berkman or Albert Pujols, two players injured while I was in Vegas) or if the player’s loss is insignificant, I’ll sometimes skip over him. I’m unsure how the loss of Marty Cordova will affect the Orioles–they stink either way–but he is gone for about six weeks after bone chips are removed from his elbow. Six weeks? After Rich Aurilia and Austin Kearns come back in 10 days, why is Cordova out for six weeks? The Orioles aren’t talking.

  • Carlos Delgado was injured tonight as he broke up a double play. Early reports were vague, but it appears that Delgado bruised the bone beneath his eye. As long as there is no fracture and the swelling can be controlled, Delgado should miss minimal time.

  • Could the Mets have much worse news lately? I don’t think anyone died, and there hasn’t been an outbreak of hives or a swarm of locusts, but a Mike Piazza injury is almost as bad. It appears that he strained his groin yesterday night. He was removed as a precaution, but there’s no further information at this point. I’ll say it again–first base, Mike.

  • No real news beyond this, but it appears that Indians CF Milton Bradley missed yesterday’s game due to a strained hamstring. I’m trying to get more information on the seriousness of the injury and hope to have it for you tomorrow.

  • Late DL move: Placido Polanco was placed on the DL with the fractured finger. It’s likely a retro move, so he should be back when eligible.

  • Lee Sinins said it best a couple days ago (but gave me way too much credit)–if we listened to players and media types, we’d never know the real story most of the time. Case in point: Ben Grieve was headed to the DL. No, he says he’s fine and will hit tomorrow. No, he’s headed to the DL. No, everyone was going to wait and see. The latest version is that he’ll have surgery to determine the cause and extent of an infection at the base of his thumb. If he has the surgery, he’s likely miss about a month.

  • Doug Glanville is considering surgery on a ruptured tendon in his hamstring. I haven’t been able to confirm this, but the surgery is likely the removal of the tendon. This surgery was performed last season on Edgar Martinez. Martinez was able to return, but continues to have problems, so the efficacy of the surgery is unknown in baseball. There’s also a world of difference in the “tools” of Martinez and Glanville. If Glanville doesn’t have his plus speed in the outfield, his best skills would be his Ivy League education and penchant for quotes.

  • The Mariners will be without “Daimajin” for a while. Kaz Sasaki has been injury-prone all spring. He’s listed with a “lower back strain,” but a Seattle reader pointed out that Sasaki was rolling his shoulder as he left last night and rubbed it several times during his start. Is it misdirection or did that back strain cause him to overexert his already fragile shoulder? We should know more in the next couple days, but the Mariners will hand the late innings to Arthur Rhodes and Jeff Nelson until Sasaki is better.

  • As Mariano Rivera had a slight setback–he just didn’t feel his fastball was “right”–the Yankees lost yet another reliever, again to a groin injury. Antonio Osuna is on the DL, but Rivera will not be rushed. Instead of just one more minor-league outing, Rivera will likely make two, meaning he’ll be back in the Bronx sometime next week, as opposed to this weekend.

  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Jason Isringhausen was diagnosed by both Cards team doctors and the second opinion was capsulitis–an inflammation of the shoulder capsule. Check that link, which has a really good, in-depth explanation of the condition. My only question, though: If Izzy has poor range of motion–and the common name for capsulitis is ‘frozen shoulder’–how can he possibly be back in May?

  • Despite a busy schedule, I’ve been discussing pitch counts with Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated and Christian Ruzich of The Cub Reporter over the past couple days. Yes, we should watch them, but one of the differences is that Kerry Wood didn’t lose velocity in today’s 123-pitch outing, but Adam Eaton did in his 118-pitch effort, right around pitch 95. Would someone–ESPN, Fox, Sportsline, Yahoo!, MLB–please put velocity data in their box scores or gamefeeds? As great as the Velocity Project is (and thanks to all who continue to send in sheets), we need more and more data to find out if we’re onto something here with velocity loss.

  • David Cone has a hip problem. Save the old jokes–hip injuries aren’t funny. In Cone’s case, it’s a hip flexor injury that has derailed his comeback for now. Cone seems determined to continue on, and given the quality of the Mets staff, there’s no reason to think he might not continue to be one of their best options. At least he’ll put butts in seats at Shea.

    The Mets do have a couple guys closer to returning–Pedro Astacio should make his first start of the season on Thursday, but late news from New York (via RotoWire) says that Art Howe might not have him go. Astacio is coming back from a bout of shoulder tendinitis according to the Mets, and labrum problems according to several other sources. More certain is the return of John Franco. As happy as the Mets must be to get back one of their clubhouse leaders, Franco’s return will hit them in the bottom line. A return, as expected, in May will cost the Mets over $2.5 million in insurance money that the team had been factoring in. Franco is right at the 11-month mark post-TJS.

  • OK, I’ll admit it. I really like Bobby V on Baseball Tonight. His presence, along with Peter Gammons’ new must-watch “Inside Pitch,” elevates the show.

Tomorrow, I’m headed back to Cincinnati where I’ll meet with Dr. Tim Kremchek, team physician of the Reds. His new facility has just opened and hey, I’m an open-minded guy. I’m curious to see what he has to say and, of course, I’ll share it with you here in UTK. That said, if I don’t come back, would someone send out a search party?

At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday, 63-year-old racing legend Mario Andretti was driving at over 200 mph when his car hit a piece of debris. His Honda flipped end-over-end at least twice and possibly as many as four times before landing on all four wheels and skidding to a stop. Andretti walked away. Just as racing has–through research, partnership and technology–reduced injuries and death by major amounts, baseball could do the same thing to eliminate injuries. There will always be accidents or freak events like the deaths of Dale Earnhardt or Greg Moore, but baseball players deserve the same type of intense effort to protect them.

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