If anyone ever asks me why I love baseball, I can just replay them the inevitable playoff highlights from this postseason. We’re barely into the LCS and there are already more great moments than I can remember. Sure, as a Cubs fan, maybe I’m a bit more into it than normal, but not by much. With the Yankees/Sox starting up tonight, we can count on that always heated rivalry giving us something more to remember and likely someone earning a reputation as something… another Bill Buckner, another Bucky F. Dent, another Reggie Jackson. We’re never sure what, but we always know we’re going to see something amazing. This is why we love baseball and why it seems no one can make the game go wrong, no matter how much they try. I’m just glad I have FX and a split-screen.
On to the injuries™…
- The collision between Johnny Damon and Damian Jackson has been shown more times than I can count, often seeming more like the Zapruder film or the multiple angles of Buckwheat’s assassination from years past, rather than a sports highlight. Damon left an Oakland hospital after being monitored overnight and flew immediately to Boston for a consultation with a neurologist. That consultation will determine his availability for the ALCS, but sources in Boston say that Damon will miss only the first two games of the series in New York, returning for Game Three in Fenway. Normally, someone with a Grade II+/III concussion would need to show a week’s worth of asymptomatic behavior before being allowed back on the field, but five days isn’t the no time given to Damian Jackson. Concussions are extremely serious and volatile injuries, so I can only hope that neither of these players is being allowed to put themselves at risk. Gabe Kapler will get the start in CF, meaning Trot Nixon could be forced to start against lefties.
- With a short bench, Grady Little will have to be a bit more creative than he has been. Adding to the difficulty is a hobbled David Ortiz. Ortiz’s knee has been stiffening up and has all the signs of torn cartilage. While this is easily correctible and Ortiz isn’t exactly reliant on his speed, there will be fewer chances to pinch-run for “Cookie Monster” and that could be a problem in late innings. Little may have to look at using a pitcher to run in some situations.
- When rosters are turned in to the MLB offices this morning, the Red Sox are expected to leave Byung-Hyun Kim‘s name off that roster, adding in an extra OF or perhaps a pitcher like Brandon Lyon or Jeff Suppan. Kim is having some shoulder soreness, but there is likely no pitcher on any of the four remaining teams that is not having some soreness and fatigue at this stage in the season. On a team that appears as close-knit as the Red Sox, Kim may have worn out his welcome in the Hub quickly and a smart team could find themselves a decent starter in the off-season in Kim.
- I guess Mike Lowell‘s hand is feeling better, not that I’m bitter or anything. Lowell will be used in this manner for much of the post-season, not so much because his hand isn’t healthy, but because it’s impossible for him to shake off the rust with so much on the line. Add in Miguel Cabrera‘s great play so far, and Lowell could be heading out of Miami in the offseason.
- For all the pain he appeared to be in, the findings were about as good as they could have been. John Smoltz had his elbow pseudo-scoped just days after his season ended and Jim Andrews removed adhesions (scar tissue) from his pitching elbow. The adhesions were near areas where Smoltz had had one of his four previous elbow surgeries, giving the possibility that this could recur at some point. Smoltz should be healthy and ready for the 2004 season.
- Roy Oswalt will have surgery to repair his groin on Wednesday, or more accurately, the area around his groin will be redone to reduce his pain. Rather than repairing the tear in the sheath surrounding his muscle, doctors will remove the sheath, allowing the muscle more room to move and removing the irritating part from the equation. Oswalt showed the ability to pitch well despite the injury, but without a muscle sheath and with the buildup of scar tissue, his chronically problematic groin isn’t going to magically be better, simply less painful. As well, Houston SS Adam Everett had his knee cleaned out, but should be ready for spring training.
- Brendan Donnelly had his elbow scoped to remove the bone chips that caused his breakdown in the last month of the season as well as a quick ‘scrape and tape’ of his knee. Donnelly should be ready for spring training. The Angels also found out that Troy Glaus will avoid open surgery on his damaged throwing shoulder. The rotator cuff tear will be rehabilitated without surgery and Glaus figures to return to third base next season, though a move across the diamond seems inevitable at some point in the near future.
- A three-pack of wrist surgeries in the past couple days that were all expected–Doug Mientkiewicz, Jose Guillen, and Desi Relaford. Guillen will have surgery on Wednesday, but the other two were completed and went well. All should be fine by the time spring training rolls around.
- With the A’s once again out quickly in the postseason, the rumors are starting to get a bit louder about the seriousness of Mark Mulder‘s injury. Unconfirmed reports have Mulder’s hip as a much more serious problem, some even mentioning avascular necrosis, a condition that would likely end his career. Our best sources–and with the A’s, it’s tough–will only say that it’s hoped that Mulder will be available for spring training. There’s a lot of ways to spin that and I’m just not sure. We’ll have to watch Beane’s off-season moves for some context, but replacing Mulder will be near impossible, given the team’s salary constraints.
Pat Gillick is still on the job while the Mariners decide who’ll be his replacement. Top candidates Lee Pelokoudas and Benny Looper will hopefully have better trade offers than what Gillick was offering this week. More than one team heard from the M’s, who are wanting to deal Freddy Garcia. If getting rid of an underachieving, undisciplined, arbitration-eligible pitcher isn’t hard enough, Gillick wanted to tie Jeff Cirillo to the deal.