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There’s been a swell of interest in injuries, pitcher workloads, and sports medicine that’s been making me very happy lately. Slate, for instance, has a very interesting piece up on sports injuries. At the same time, I’ve heard that you’ll want to check out ESPN Magazine next week for something by yours truly. Add in the growing influence of the legions of fantasy players who want to know why so many of their players are on the DL, and injury analysis is hot. I’ll also tip my cap to folks like PBATS, ASMI, Rick Wilton, and RotoWire. Now, it’s time we try and make a difference. Because if continue to work, flip answers like “Players aren’t as tough as they were back in my day” or “It must be steroids” will disappear into the mist, like they very well should.

Powered by wheatgrass juice, on to the injuries…

  • Vernon Wells is perhaps the only Blue Jay meeting preseason expectations, but an injury makes him just another in the long line waiting to get into the training room. The Jays might run a lean operation, but they may want to consider some extra trainers. Wells is listed as out for three weeks with a calf strain, but there are some saying that the problem is with his Achilles. Wells denied this in a story on the Jays site, but knowledgeable sources say that the worst could be true. I had hoped for an update on Jays radio, but J.P. Ricciardi bowed out of his usual interview with BPR contributor Mike Wilner. I’ll be following this one closely. While Wells could return from a calf strain in the stated three week timetable, the recent injuries to Nomar Garciaparra and Mark Grudzielanek give you an idea what the Achilles might take.

  • The Jays are also waiting on Carlos Delgado. His oblique strain is healing slowly (surprise!) and he will probably not take batting practice until early next week. While Carlos Tosca indicated that he expected Delgado back late next week, that timeframe seems optimistic. There’s no real rush unless the Jays are going to showcase Delgado for a trade–a difficult task, given Delgado’s popularity and contract status.

  • The Pirates have sent Kip Wells to a second hand specialist for more imaging and tests. Wells is now out for his Saturday start, and unless the diagnosis comes up minor, he’ll likely be a retro DL move. Again, without a firm diagnosis, it’s very difficult to project how this will affect him or what timeframe he’ll have for a return, so be patient while the doctors work.

  • Welcome back, Josh Beckett. Oh, wait. Beckett didn’t last long in his return from the DL. Missing a stint while his blisters healed, Beckett returned and looked effective. In the fourth inning, Beckett reported that he felt something “pop” in his back. He was removed from the game and appears to be headed back to the DL–this time with a strained intracostal. The area affected seems low for an intracostal, based on where Beckett pointed to trainers, but it’s possible he was pointing to a general area or was having referred pain. After the game, Beckett tried to make light, saying his finger was fine, while admitting that it was still tightening on him. This arm-side strain will affect Beckett on every pitch until it returns to normal.

  • Melvin Mora has been a monster thus far in 2004, but he left Thursday’s game with a sprained foot. I’ve watched the highlights, but can’t determine the exact point where the injury occurred. There had been no reports of a problem, so I’ll guess that the injury is traumatic in nature and minor in scope. Mora has been a slow healer throughout his career (caveats of small sample size apply), but we should know more soon on this one. My Baltimore source kept me waiting to 1:30 a.m., but couldn’t get the scoop.

  • I’ve been watching for something since Vern Gambetta was hired to get Jose Reyes back to the majors. It finally happened, Thursday, as Reyes stole a base. To add more optimism to Mets fans’ day, Reyes was able to play a full nine innings at Binghamton and reported only normal soreness after the game. Assuming Reyes stays healthy through the weekend, he should move up for a couple games, then make his 2004 debut for the Amazins. I’m cautiously positive here, but it will be a long time before I’ll look at Reyes and not think “red light.”

  • Roy Oswalt looked like the intracostal strain was bothering him throughout his Thursday loss to the Cubs. His delivery was neither smooth nor consistent, looking like he was struggling to find a comfortable delivery. Oswalt has not been throwing on the side, hoping rest and treatment would clear up the injury–an approach that’s contributed to the inconsistency. At some point, the Astros will have to consider getting Oswalt the rest that will heal the strain. Meanwhile, things are looking better for Andy Pettitte. He’ll head to Round Rock for a rehab start and should be back in the Astro rotation late next week.

  • Quick Cuts: Mike Mussina threw a good bullpen with only “tightness” in his groin, but he’ll still miss one start…Austin Kearns will get a weekend rehab stint in lovely downtown Louisville to knock the rust off…Before a field-level faux pas, Buck Showalter told the gaggle of press that Jeff Nelson and Jay Powell are ahead of schedule in their rehabs, but Chan Ho Park isn’t…Trot Nixon is hitting well, but watching him run is almost as painful as running appears to be for him. Trot’s not trotting well yet…The Cubs get Sammy Sosa back on Friday, then Mark Grudzielanek on Saturday…John Patterson was a day away from a return, but re-strained his groin. He’ll finnegan the rehab…Joe Mays had a small, reasonably normal setback. He’s still aiming for an August return…Brendan Donnelly was activated after a long, complex rehab.

Keep your schedules open: We’ll have Ballpark Feed announcements soon for New York, Chicago, and Dallas. I’ll spend the weekend hoping my iBook makes it back safely from its third trip back to the Apple factory. It says something when I get a lemon and still love the product.

I’ll be back on Monday for what is shaping up to be a big week for your humble correspondent. Be sure to check in on Rob Neyer and Bill James, as well as a full complement of BP Authors calling in live to take your questions at 800 TALK 2 90, when BP Radio hits the airwaves on Saturday morning. Have a happy Father’s Day and stay healthy!