This has been one heck of a month of May. Between injury news and the Indy
500, I’ve been a busy man. Thanks to ESPN 950 for allowing me access to the
one of the coolest events of my life.
With the race behind me, I am ready to return my full focus to baseball, and
have a couple of features coming up, including one on Dr. Tim Kremchek of the
Cincinnati Reds that will run this week.
Bobby Valentine gets it. Monday on Baseball Tonight, he pointed to Doug
Mirabelli‘s 10-pitch at-bat as to what broke down Roger
Clemens‘ bid for 300. Dead on. Clemens logged a number of innings in
which he threw more than 30 pitches, and finished with 133 total in just 5
1/3–the highest P/IP ratio I can recall. Throughout the game Clemens seemed
to be out of his element–overthrowing, not hitting his spots, and just not
looking much like the guy who had won 299 games over 20 seasons.
Any slugger has to keep his base. When Mark
McGwire hung them up, it wasn’t because his arms weren’t strong
enough, but because his legs had failed him. Now Barry
Bonds is having a season that has to be a bit worrisome with one leg
injury after another. Ankles, hamstrings, and now tendinitis are slowing him
down, and perhaps sapping some of his power. He should be back mid-week, but a
continuing pattern of injuries could be the first small sign that Bonds is
succumbing to age. Remember, though, that his work ethic and workout addiction
will help, and that a diminished Bonds is still better than almost anyone else
in the game.
Last year’s AL Rookie of the Year, Eric
Hinske, looks headed for surgery. No final decision has been made, but
Hinske is likely going to have his right hamate bone removed. As serious as it
sounds, the surgery is actually quite minor and has around a six-week recovery
period with minimal after-effects. Darin
Erstad had it in the off-season and had more problems with it than
Durazo and Ken Griffey
Jr. had this surgery with little or no lasting effects.
Speaking of Erstad, the cortisone injections into his right hamstring have
significantly reduced the swelling in the muscle and his progress towards a
return is coming in leaps. The muscle is still at a significant risk for
re-injury, especially with Erstad’s playing style, but a return in early June
is becoming quite likely. Like Griffey, Erstad’s career would be greatly
helped by a move out of center field.
The most serious long-term injury of the weekend appears on the surface to be
that of Troy
Percival. No one seems to think that this is a Bo
Jackson-type injury, nor do they think that this will even be a
season-ender for Percival. The degenerative changes to his right hip seen in
images do occur and are problematic, but it’s unlikely that surgery will help.
Instead, most doctors/trainers/therapists that I spoke to this weekend think
that strengthening the muscles around the joint will help. Beyond that, there
are minor surgical procedures that could correct the problem. There’s no solid
timetable for his return, but don’t cross Percival off your 2003 list yet.
The Cardinals have had just about every injury they could have at this stage.
They dodged one bullet with Albert
Pujols‘ elbow injury, but losing Fernando
Vina for much of the summer is nearly as serious. It’s not that Miguel
Cairo will cost the Cardinals significant runs over the next six weeks
(using the minimum, the Cards should only lose around 1.5 runs), but it’s that
the Cardinals are left with no clear leadoff man. Again, I’ll run with Bobby
V’s suggestion of using J.D.
Drew in that slot, despite Drew’s own leg woes.
Sosa felt the need to answer the whispers that it wasn’t his toe
keeping him out, but his head. Sure, Sosa took a nasty beaning, but it is his
toe–with a slowly regenerating toenail–that will keep him out until later
It was scary for Scott
Williamson in the ninth inning yesterday when he felt something tear
in his TJ’d elbow. After a post-game examination by team doctors, the thought
is that he tore remnant scar tissue. Williamson will rest a few days and
perhaps return to Cincinnati for precautionary tests. He’ll miss the next
I’d feel better if there was an MRI, but let’s assume the doctors in Arizona
know what they’re doing with Brandon
Webb. Webb will miss at least his next start with tendinitis in his
elbow. The Diamondbacks will juggle their rotation, bringing back Byung-Hyun
Kim and John
Patterson to make starts while waiting on Randy
Johnson‘s return. That return looks like a mid-June event. Kim’s start
will probably look like a scouting convention, what with the young Korean
I watched the first part of the Marlins/Reds game on Friday just a couple
seats down from Ivan
Rodriguez‘ brother, Tito. The resemblance is uncanny; you can only
tell them apart because Tito is about 100 pounds heavier. On the field, the
lighter of the Brothers Rodriguez is out for at least a couple more games with
a severe bruise to his right foot. Pudge is having trouble putting his weight
on the foot, and crouching is simply out of the question. It’s not serious or
something that will affect him in the long term.
Neagle is supposedly making progress, but wearing a splint when not
pitching doesn’t sound like much progress to me. His left elbow is still
painful, still swells significantly, and requires deep tissue massage to
maintain its range of motion. The Rockies are in deep on this one and have to
do everything they can, but at some point in the near future they may have to
admit that Neagle is a sunk cost.
It has to be heartbreaking. Jason
Bay mashes and rakes in Triple-A, gets the call to the bigs, and then
doesn’t make it through the first weekend. Bay was hit by an Elmer
Dessens pitch and walked away with a fractured right wrist. Depending
on the severity of the break, Bay will be out between six and 12 weeks. Early
indications are towards the low end of that continuum.
Since the Pads have used Jaret
Wright as the example of a positive return from Mumford (the type of
Hoffman had), it doesn’t bode well that Wright is about to get a visit
from the Turk, is it? On the brighter side, Brian
Tollberg is about to be activated, less than a year after Tommy John
surgery. Remember the return pattern of reduced command for about two years
with Tollberg or any other TJ pitcher, irrelevant of rehabilitation time.
Quick Cuts: Richard
Hidalgo has been hospitalized with tonsilitis and a generalized
Dye should return to the A’s lineup this weekend and will play the OF,
Oswalt will start Saturday, returning from the DL in the minimum…The
Brewers just cannot keep pitchers healthy. Their latest victim is Ben
Diggins, who has a partially torn ligament in his elbow. He’ll try to
rehab his way out of surgery…Delmon Young will be the first pick in
next week’s draft…Danica Patrick is
It’s not often that I can say Billy
Beane is wrong. When I think I should say it, I go back and check my
figures. When those check out, I check them again. While listening to the BPR
archived interview, Billy stated that there’s a correlation between age and
injury. There’s not.
Thanks to Jon Sciambi, radio broacaster for the Marlins (and a big part of
BPR), for inviting us up to the booth on Friday. That was a thrill.
Yes, we’ll continue to archive BPR. This week’s edition will start later, due
to the holiday, but you’ll get to hear all of “Rob & Rany on the Radio,” and
also from Mark Armour, author of Paths To Glory. And yes, get your
questions for me ready…or if you’d rather talk to Gary Huckabay, Joe
Sheehan, or Jonah Keri, they’ll be along this weekend for the debut of BPR
Live. To answer the most frequent question, yes, the call is toll-free. Back