There was an even split in the flood of e-mail I got today. I’d expected about half of it, either blasting me for a “weak stance” on steroids or giving me their own take on it. I like that with almost all of the mail, we can have an intelligent discussion about what is an important–but not simple–topic.

It was the other half I didn’t expect, even though I’d watched Baseball Tonight. I don’t blame Bobby Valentine for saying that Dontrelle Willis has a funky motion–clearly, he does. I think Buster Olney, now writing at ESPN Magazine, had a great take, writing nearly everything I was going to write about the subject. Olney says it best when he discusses how Willis finishes his delivery. Once the leg comes down from around his eyeballs and the ball comes from somewhere out of his sleeve, he’s pretty normal and on balance. There are a lot of funny stances for hitters–Craig Counsell‘s upright stance and Julio Franco‘s unusual crouch come to mind–but both find themselves in good hitting position when the ball is delivered. Willis’ motion is the equivalent–it’s the end result that matters.

And no, I don’t think his motion is going to cause a lot of injury problems for him. Workload? Fatigue? Overexertion? I can’t speak to those yet.

Onto the injuries…

  • Everyone wants to believe that the guy they need to succeed will be back early, so most optimism is simply wishful thinking. In the case of Vladimir Guerrero, it’s not so much wishful thinking as it is selective hearing. In a Montreal Gazette story, Expos Assistant GM Tony Siegle said that Vlad was coming along well and that he could be back much earlier than expected. A later clarification from Siegle gave the whole story: If things go right, if Guerrero’s aggressive rehabilitation program works and he manages to avoid an epidural injection, a return in six weeks isn’t impossible. Unlikely, but not impossible. Still, everything has to go right, so maintain a level head in regards to Vlad’s return timeline. (There are also interesting, almost too positive reports on Zach Day‘s non-superglue-related rotator cuff tear that I’m following up.)

  • Once again, there’s a story about Mike Piazza that is almost like a make-your-own-joke. We learn that he’s doing well and that playing first would be easier on his legs (duh), but I’ll still resist making fun of this non-news and continue watching for the important but perhaps less funny details.

  • It will still take another start to convince me, but for Tom Glavine, it was a major test to come out of a start without significant swelling or pain. He’s passed, according to both published reports and team sources, and should make his next scheduled start.

  • The Mets will be faced with a very interesting choice that will end up being more symbolic than significant when Rey Sanchez comes off the DL, possibly later this week. With Jose Reyes playing extremely well, the Mets will need to decide whether to look to the future now or to push Reyes back to the minor leagues.

  • Matt Morris had a good side session and appears on track for making a start on Friday. His rotator cuff inflammation has responded to therapy and anti-inflammatories, which has to be like hearing the jackpot go off for Cardinals fans and for Dave Duncan. The Cardinals dumped Dustin Hermanson today to make room for Lance Painter, while Chris Carpenter is beginning work that should have him in place for St. Louis near the All-Star break. Outside of the good news on Morris, that’s a lot of movement without getting one bit better.

  • Paul Byrd is still weeks away from even a rehab assignment. He’ll continue to get some side work in until Leo Mazzone feels he is ready. It’s next to impossible to gauge a timeframe or any expectation of what, if anything, Byrd will be able to do if he can return. For a team like the Braves, I just don’t see where he fits into their picture.

  • Chad Fox is continuing to progress in his rehab and will have one more outing before returning to the Boston bullmittee early next week. Casey Fossum also appears headed to the pen when he returns on or about the 23d. With the good also comes the bad: Bobby Howry has an ulnar nerve problem that will require surgery and end his 2003 season. This is very similar to what Ellis Burks is dealing with, but it’s obviously much more concerning for a pitcher. I don’t have a good comparable for this one.

  • It’s a bit odd, I’ll admit, but the result is the same. After delays in getting a determination from their medical director, the Devil Rays have decided to have Seth McClung go to Lewis Yocum to have his Tommy John surgery. This is nothing new and pretty meaningless unless you know that the Devil Rays medical director is Jim Andrews and that his association with HealthSouth is becoming quite a problem for him. Donald Watkins, who’s made headlines as a potential ownership candidate, is involved with the case.

  • Quick cuts: Ron Belliard is headed out on a rehab assignment to test his ankle, but should be back in a matter of days…Seeing a Rule 5 pick on the DL is as sure a thing as there is in baseball. Sometimes it’s real, sometimes it’s a case of rosteritis. I’m not sure which it is with Matt White of the Mariners, but there he is, on the DL….The Coors “Wingman” commercial may rank in my all-time top 10…The Indians sent Robby Thompson–yeah, that one–to check out Ricky Gutierrez‘s progress. With Omar Vizquel out post-surgery, Gutierrez could be a decent fill-in…Herbert Perry had surgery today, ending his 2003 and any questions about him stealing ABs from Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira. Quit chuckling, that really was a possibility this preseason…Top Bucs prospect Bobby Bradley is apparently on the Ryan Anderson plan. He’ll have shoulder surgery in the near future.

Redbird Nation had a great fact regarding pitch counts. In 1944, Red Barrett threw a complete game with only 58 pitches. Sure, it’s a Cards site, but well worth reading. (By the way, I’ll be in St. Louis on the 26th…still working on a Feed.)

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