Is it wrong to have been slightly rooting against my Cubs in Sunday’s Game Five? Not that the Marlins needed my help; Josh Beckett‘s Game Score v2.0 of 97 bushwhacked the Cubs, forcing a Game Six that I’m lucky enough to be attending. With Prior on the hill versus a Marlin To Be Named Later (MTBNL), it should be interesting–perhaps one for the ages.

I’m still about 10 days away from unveiling the plan that John Goalder and I hatched back in our college days to celebrate the World Series. I don’t want to reveal too much yet, but let’s just say that it involves 30,000 cheering fans, 100 railroad ties, 225 feet of rolled steel, and the Sears Tower.

So onto the injuries…

  • There are a couple open questions about Pedro Martinez–the first is, in the words of the immortal Mango, “What the frick?!” The second–his future in Boston–is addressed over at my weblog. The biggest question, of course, is regarding his health. His velocity was clearly off on Saturday, and Tim McCarver openly questioned his pitch selection. Peter Gammons said he was “throwing his heart,” but after a late-season release from strict pitch limits, Pedro has been rather…mortal. Can Pedro pitch effectively without his best stuff? Sure. Can he beat a good, patient Yankees lineup on short rest? There’s one I wouldn’t want my season riding on.

    It makes me wonder: Would Manny Ramirez charge Kyle Farnsworth? If Manny had gotten to Roger Clemens, would Roger have gone all Nolan Ryan on him with the noogies?

  • Byung-Hyun Kim was working out in the outfield, playing long-toss and throwing pitches from flat ground. People at Fenway report to me that Kim showed no signs of soreness, or changing his mechanics. I was interested to hear that he throws normally during long toss; it’s something I’d long wondered about many sidewinders, but had never thought to ask. Kim might be available in the World Series, but his place on the roster has less to do with his
    shoulder than it does with Grady Little’s confidence in him.

  • Karim Garcia would not have been available for Sunday’s Game Four, and is questionable for Monday. In the bullpen fracas, Garcia cut his pinkie finger, reportedly while pummeling the Boston groundskeeper that had been cheering and waving his towel from the Yankees’ bullpen. While the hand has no fractures, the cut did take stitches. Once the swelling goes down, Garcia should be available to get back into Joe Torre’s right field rotation.
  • Don Zimmer going out on a stretcher was a little bit of an act, and a little bit of concern for a 70-year-old who got bounced on his metal-plated head. Zimmer has apologized for his actions and will be about five grand lighter in his wallet, but should be fine. Reports from the game said that his back seized up after possibly pulling a muscle in the fall.
  • We’ll get to see the effects of the extra, unnecessary, workload for Mark Prior on Tuesday. Kerry Wood was clearly less effective than he had previously been during Game Three, as his velocity was off significantly early in the game. Al Leiter correctly pointed out that his curve was gone, replaced by a slider, but he failed to tell why. Wood’s mechanics were off from the warm ups, and he seemed unable to find a comfortable arm slot. If the Cubs can get a win on Tuesday, no one needs the rest more than Wood, and it would allow the Cubs to re-set their rotation for the World Series. World Series? Cubs? What’s that guy with the “Eamus Catuli” sign going to do if they win?
  • Tony Womack joined the legion of Tommy John surgery survivors, subclass of position players. Womack had been playing with the injury for some time, raising question of “How would we know if Womack’s performance was off due to injury?” Worse, there are reports that Doug Glanville was taking grounders at shortstop before Game Four. Glanville is a funny guy, often darn-near writing Jayson Stark’s column for him, so I hope this was another of his jokes. Or Dusty’s idea of one. Womack should be ready for spring training, but may not be able to play shortstop effectively from a health standpoint.
  • Jack McKeon insists there’s nothing wrong with Brad Penny, but any reader of UTK must have doubts. Carl Pavano will get the start on Tuesday, and he’s looked pretty good in his relief appearances this season. I think we’ll see something from the Marlins on Penny shortly after they exit the season, whenever that may be. His elbow just can’t be right, especially if he’s not used in Pavano’s relief role.
  • In Minnesota, they picked up Corey Koskie‘s option at a reasonable $4.5 million for 2004, and disclosed that he played the last two months with a broken hamate bone, similar to what Jose Guillen dealt with. Two guys in the lineup with bum wrists certainly couldn’t have helped the Twins win, and points once again to the poor roster construction that doomed the Twins. No backups and a glut of corner outfielders simply makes no sense. Koskie may have the bone removed, but even with surgery, he’ll be fine to play out his option year.
  • Marlon Byrd went in for shoulder surgery last Wednesday. Byrd had a scope to repair a SLAP tear, but should be fine for spring training. Further south, pitcher Vicente Padilla was involved in a car wreck; while the driver was killed, reports on Padilla initially indicated that he had fractured his collarbone and pitching hand. Padilla and his agent both deny there were any fractures, so time will tell the story here. Padilla is a big part of the Phillies plan for 2004, so this bears close watch.
  • Luis Gonzalez almost joined Tony Womack in the Tommy John club, but he’s worried that he would not be able to play outfield for the first part of the season. Evidently, the D’backs didn’t keep a close eye on how Tony LaRussa smartly protected Albert Pujols while keeping his potent bat in the lineup. Gonzalez will attempt to rehab without surgery, but the threat of surgery will probably give him at least a yellow light going into next season.

Where can I get one of these monkeys?

Back when injuries warrant…and remember to let me know if you’ll be in Wrigley on Tuesday night!

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