By the time you read this, it’s possible that I’ll be moving faster than a heater from Roger Clemens or Kerry Wood, faster than Mark Prior or Randy Johnson, or even faster than a Jamie Moyer plus a Doug Jones. How is this possible? In my duties covering the Indianapolis 500 for ESPN 950, I’ll be the backup “driver” for one of the two-seat Indy Cars that are set to take select journalists around the fabled track. I’m still hoping Greg Rakestraw gets the shot he deserves, but after standing on the “yard of bricks” at the start/finish line today, I would be lying to say I didn’t want the chance to go around at speed.

Watching those cars fly by at twice the speed of a Billy Wagner fastball–with some to spare–is truly one of the most amazing things I’ve seen. Here’s a couple of links of what I might just be doing tomorrow. Let’s just hope the next UTK isn’t “Will Carroll smashed into the SAFER barrier at 200 mph, fracturing every bone in his body.” There’s a lot of things I don’t have in common with Jason Priestley and some of them, I’d like to keep that way.

  • It seems like just yesterday that we were watching Ken Huckaby crash into Derek Jeter and the air collectively went out of many Yankee fans. In fact, it’s been six weeks and Jeter’s been hard at work. Sunday was his big coming out party, taking BP at the Yankees’ Tampa facility. He’s progressed from a tee to live BP in less than a week, so the next logical step is a rehab assignment. Word from Yankees sources is that Jeter will take one more BP session then join the Single-A (FSL) Tampa Yankees on Wednesday.

    I asked Kevin Goldstein what he thought of a Jeter stint in the FSL and he said: “Jeter will be playing at Legends Field and it’s a field and stadium he’s obviously very comfortable with. It’s High-A competition so you are talking about guys generally with one to three years experience. Because of the size of the parks and the moist air, it’s generally a pitcher’s haven and this year, the league is just packed with good pitching prospects, so it’s a nice little test for him. That said, these guys are still way away from the majors, and Jayson Werth really raked while there.”

  • BH Kim is still having problems with his ankle after being hit by a broken bat, but it was more the problems surrounding him that forced him to the DL. A team can work around one injury, even a major one, but the third in a series of injuries makes the options few and far between. Kim should be back in the minimum with little aftereffects, so don’t give up on a guy who’ll be a good starting pitcher.

  • Some baseball stories are so good that, even if they aren’t true, they should be. Take this one, for example–all I can find is hearsay, but it’s so good, I still have to share it. When Chan Ho Park was told he was being placed on the DL, he is said to have complained to pitching coach Orel Hershiser that he was fine. Hershiser allegedly looked at him and said: “If you were healthy, you could throw strikes.”

  • The Royals could use a boost after falling back to earth in the last two weeks. Getting their best pitcher back could be that boost. Jeremy Affeldt will be back Tuesday with his treated fingers, new grip, and a front office full of crossed fingers and prayers. Almost every Royal hope is based on Affeldt being healthy through 30 starts.

  • Rick Reed tried to fight through a strained lower back, but wasn’t able to do it. Injuries like this are precisely why the Twins have someone like Johan Santana in the bullpen, huddled in masses, yearning to breathe free. Santana should–I say should–get his chance at the rotation now, but the Twins have done odder things. The Twins do have depth at almost every position not in the middle of the infield, so this could be the time we see Terry Ryan make a deal, but I doubt we’ll see someone like Chuck Finley in the Twin Cities.

  • Don’t close out the Darren Dreifort pool yet. Yes, he’s hurt and yes, he’s headed for an MRI, but it’s not clear if the pain and weakness in his knee mean much. Dreifort had some humorous quotes about being used to MRIs on the Dodgers web site, but his fragility is near legendary, so he might as well try to laugh. The MRI is scheduled for tomorrow, then he’ll see Dr. Jobe on Tuesday. The Dodgers will bring Alan Ashby out of the scrapheap to take Dreifort’s next start.

  • It’s not just me questioning the health of Kazuhiro Sasaki. It’s not just the A’s scouts going public with suspicions about his shoulder. No, this time it’s Sasaki’s own manager. Just read this quote and tell me that Bob Melvin isn’t all but acknowledging that his closer has problems with his pitching arm.

  • There’s no case of a more accelerated timetable than recent D’back callup Chris Capuano. After repair of a “severely torn” UCL last May, Capuano made it to spring training, then was called up a week short of the one-year anniversary of his visit to Dr. Yocum. He’ll be placed at the end of the bullpen, but the return has to be inspiring for someone like A.J. Burnett.

  • Quick pitches: The irony that Todd Jones has a pulled gluteal muscle is simply splendiferous…Jimmy Haynes is making progress with his back problem, but he’s not at a point where he’s ready to come back to the rotation. Next week? Maybe…Adam Eaton left his start Sunday with a groin strain, but no word on how serious yet. With Brian Lawrence dealing with a tender elbow, keep an eye on this rotation…Tony Armas is ready to throw off a mound, but Duque Hernandez is getting shelled while on rehab.

  • Brian Giles faces a major test this week. He’ll run the bases with his new brace to test his lateral mobility. The right knee takes much of the stress of making during the left turns of baseball (and there’s no way to change stagger in the cleats) so this simple sounding activity will go a long way toward determining when the Bucs get their best hitter back. A rehab assignment is probably in the offing as well. Josh Fogg is eligible to come off the DL this week, but he’s going to make at least one rehab start to test his oblique muscle and make sure he’s ready to help the team.

  • Carlos Beltran has missed a couple games now with a shoulder problem, but there’s not much in the way of diagnosis, so it’s impossible to know at this point if the shoulder caused his slump or the shoulder is a convenient excuse to sit Beltran and try to break him out of it. Beltran did have a few good games just before this time off, but that doesn’t tell us much. Either way, the trade value of Beltran is likely down some and the Royals may be forced to wait until the All-Star break to deal him.

  • Mo Vaughn is on the DL and the whispers of insurance contracts are plaguing this move already. Sources confirm that the Mets are covered by the policy that Anaheim purchased, covering the $17 million salary given to Big Mo. Now, please note that I’m not saying that the injury is a front for some sort of salary or roster shenanigans, just that any contract this big with a diagnosis attached this vague is open to question. We’ll know more Tuesday after Vaughn has an MRI on his inflamed knee.

  • Big contracts seem to be falling all over the place this weekend. Todd Hundley is experiencing problems with his lower back and is headed to the DL. Hundley was an albatross coming in and you only take an albatross to get rid of two, but so far, the Dodgers came out way behind in this deal.

  • Jeffrey Hammonds should be activated from the DL some time this week. He’ll be back here before you know it, so anyone relying on his production should just enjoy it while it lasts. I’m reasonably sure there’s a countdown clock on Doug Melvin’s desk waiting for that money to come free. Budget re-opens; money wasted is gone forever.

  • I always get the best information from my readers, so I’m asking for your help again: I’m looking for a cheap laptop, especially if it’s a Powerbook. I don’t need anything fancy, just workable, reliable, and can run a word processor and check email.

Last week, I teased a little bit about a change upcoming to Baseball Prospectus Radio and I’m ready to announce it: BPR will be switching to a “live” format starting May 31st. We’ll still be taping most of our interviews, but this gives me and co-host Scott McCauley a chance to talk about the events of the week up to the airdate, rather than taping on Thursday. It will also give us a chance to let you be a part of the show. We’ll fire up the toll-free number and take your calls–and often, you’ll be able to talk with our guests as well. BPR will be your chance to talk back to BP authors, players, agents, and the rest of the interesting guests we get. I hope you’re as excited about this change as we are…and yes, we’re working to get BPR in your market.

Just wait until you hear my All-Star news…

Thank you for reading

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