If I seem a bit distracted, blame hockey. I have the iBook out and I’m writing in the few breaks and in between periods tonight (or last night, for you guys). Planted firmly on the couch with a Sam’s Club case of Guinness and a pair of pizzas in the fridge, I’m ready to go. With only one MLB game on tap due to the quirks of interleague scheduling, one would think it would be a quiet night for UTK, but just as much happens on off-days as on game days. Trainers don’t get days off or even much of an off-season. I can remember a cold January day when I called 10 trainers and nine of them were in their training room. The 10th? He was at the team’s spring training facility.

(OK, game over…congrats to the Devils. Enjoy taking the Cup to the Bada Bing.)

  • The Cardinals summoned Jason Isringhausen from his rehab assignment to Boston on Monday. While the assumption is that he will be activated and available when they resume play in Fenway on Tuesday, the Cardinals aren’t yet committing to the move. By the time you read this, the Cardinals will have made the move, but waiting and evaluating is the smart thing to do in this case. The usage patterns of Isringhausen will remain an open question even after he is activated. I remain unconvinced that Izzy is anything more than an injury time bomb, waiting to explode inside an unsuspecting bullpen.

  • While A.J. Burnett sits and waits for his elbow to heal enough to just play catch again, Josh Beckett is hoping to avoid the same fate. The Marlins appear to be cautious with the comeback of their young potential ace, but if you try and figure out what the Marlins have in mind, you’ll often find yourself grabbing nothing but smoke. Beckett was back on a mound for the first time, throwing occasional breaking balls in a 50-pitch workout. (Odd how the Marlins learn to count during rehabilitation work.) Beckett remains on target for a July 1 return, but the caution could push him back to the All-Star break or further.

  • Tom Glavine had a side session on Monday that went reasonably well, considering he couldn’t get full extension on his arm. A reader who I consider “in the know” said that the pain in Glavine’s elbow was evident in his last couple starts. “He could put the ball in certain spots on the plate and not in others,” said this reader, who shall remain nameless. The loss of range of motion for a finesse pitcher is devastating. The brave-face talk of only missing one start is the sign of a desperate team that won’t come to terms with an especially bad signing.

  • Longtime UTK readers know that I don’t often think of dead arm as a serious condition. It is actually something of a positive, showing that a pitcher fatigued his muscles without having a breakdown in his mechanics and the resultant injuries. There are occasions where dead arm becomes a catchall diagnosis when a medical staff isn’t sure what’s going on, but this rarely happens anymore. Damian Moss is going through a dead arm period, but the Giants have enough depth to get him some extra rest, keep his pitch counts down, and to get him ready to help their team as the season wears on. It’s still pretty cool to hear “dead arm” in Moss’ Aussie accent.

  • I received a load of e-mail regarding a “quick comeback” for Joe Kennedy and couldn’t figure out the genesis. Apparently, some roto service somewhere couldn’t count up the days to his eligible return and said he might be back this week. While Kennedy is making fine progress, he can’t make an end run around the rules. He’ll likely be back on the mound around June 17th.

  • In today’s daily blister updates, Jeremy Affeldt will likely only miss one start, Kip Wells shouldn’t miss a start, and Danny Graves will probably have his start pushed back to the weekend. I need to find a blister expert for BPR so that I can quit explaining this to everyone. No, sitting out for a blister doesn’t make someone a cupcake. For a pitcher, it’s as debilitating an injury as many things the untrained eye would think more serious.

  • Mike Hampton‘s injured groin will only cause one missed start for him. For the Braves, the interleague schedule and the extra off days should help Cox and Mazzone juggle the rotation without taxing the staff. Hampton will likely be back on the mound by the weekend.

  • The old saw of no news being good news isn’t always true when it comes to injuries. We’ve heard almost nothing from the Mets regarding the recovery of Mike Piazza since the severely torn groin was acknowledged. Sure, the Mets have plenty of other problems to deal with–from Fat Mo to Gimpy Glavine–but don’t let the guy who hangs out with Alf slip your mind. While there are many things that Piazza can be criticized for–fairly, unfairly or even in baseless rumor, Piazza remains one of the more media-savvy players in the game. He’s seen what the media has done to Mo, to Ken Griffey Jr., and many others who are pointed to as “not earning their paycheck.” Add in his sense of himself as a historical figure, and if at all physically possible, Piazza will be back before the season is over. The question now is when…and where.

  • Shea Hillenbrand has a mild strain of his intracostal (rib) muscles. This shouldn’t affect him long-term and he should be back in the lineup soon.

  • If the medical staff for the Indians is having an attack of deja vu, no one can blame them. Last year, Ricky Gutierrez ended the season with nerve problems that resulted in cervical surgery. He is just now getting back on the field and could be back in Cleveland soon, but the same symptoms are showing up in Ellis Burks. The staff noticed changes in Burks’ arm and will begin trying to narrow down the cause of this apparent neuromuscular problem with a series of tests. The first suspect is an impinged nerve in his cervical spine. Also like Gutierrez, Burks failed to tell the coaching or medical staff that he had a problem. The problem apparently goes back as far as spring training and once again points to a problem in culture and trust.

  • With Ramon Vazquez on the DL with a strained abdominal muscle, Khalil Greene has moved up to Triple-A. While Vazquez’s injury isn’t serious, he is missing a chance to entrench himself on a team that figures to make several moves that will appear slightly out of sequence due to their move into a new park for 2004. The Pads are looking to make some moves and show off what they think will be a team ready to compete against the fading glory of the NL West. For now, Mark Loretta will probably see more at bats.

  • It appears that Jose Contreras is once again heading for the DL. While Yankees sources and officials can’t confirm the move, he has spent quite a bit of time in the training room as of late. The problem is that after a start, it is taking Contreras more than two days to “loosen up” and get back to a point where he can do his side work. One would expect this from an older pitcher, but that opens up a whole other can of worms. The loss of Contreras could be damaging to a Yankees staff that’s already having problems, even if it’s only for the minimum. They’ll have to hope that Jeff Weaver straightened himself out during his brief bullpen stint.

  • Quick Cuts: Casey Fossum appears to be suffering from simple tendinitis. If he is forced to go to the DL, his former college teammate, Ryan Rupe is a likely callup…With Chris Gomez heading to the DL, the Baseball Prospectus Radio Lucky Charm remains in effect; just two weeks after talking to us, Justin Morneau was called up. Connect the dots in today’s news and Doug Mientkiewicz could be on the move…Hee Seop Choi left the hospital, and other than a bit of soreness has no ill effects from his concussion…Darin Erstad was activated from the DL as expected and was in the lineup Monday for the Angels…Steve Finley is expected back this week after missing several games with a mild strain of his hamstring…Timo Perez should come back Tuesday for the Mets. Not that it will help much.

If you’ve written to me from an AOL account recently and not received a reply, it’s not me–it’s AOL. AOL has dropped some sort of weird filter and Comcast doesn’t yet have a fix. I’m answering the urgent ones from my backup free-mail account, but I wanted everyone to know the deal.

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