Today’s UTK is about burning questions. Emphasis: burning questions, not burning sensations. UTK stands for “Under the Knife,” not “Urinary Tract Konnection.” Lately everyone who writes me has the same questions. Below, I try my best to answer them.

Powered by Discovery HD Theater, on to your questions about the injuries…

  • Can a visit to Jim Andrews have a happy ending? Monday, Roy Halladay visited the good doctor in the beautiful city of Birmingham for a medical opinion on his right shoulder and found that there are no tears and no structural problems. Instead, Halladay is merely fatigued and sore. Given his workload last season, even in light of his pitch efficiency, it’s not tremendously surprising. Halladay will miss a month, perhaps a bit more, as the Jays look to get him ready for the next winning Toronto team.

  • As bad as things looked last week, could it be that Mark Prior might not miss a start? . According to Cubs sources, if this was a “must-win” game, Prior could take the mound on Tuesday. Since, at nine games back, the Cubs are not presently in the must-win business, Glendon Rusch will get the start, allowing Prior more time and treatment before he goes back into the rotation. Prior is undergoing intensive treatment to relieve not only the soreness in his elbow, but to try and find the root cause for the “elbow splints”–something no one seems to have a handle on.

  • Do the Yankees have enough pitching? Kevin Brown and Mike Mussina have nearly 400 wins between them, but that’s the past. This season, these two “aces” have done less than expected due to injury. Brown will have a rehab start in Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday and will likely have at least one more before returning. Brown seems to be recovered from parasites, and his arm is making progress. Mussina is frustrated at the pace of his recovery; he’ll get to throw from flat ground later this week, so there’s no solid timetable for his next start.

  • How bad is it for Joe Mauer and the Twins? Mauer has reacted poorly to a change in medications. While I don’t have specifics, Twins sources indicate that Mauer had problems with his stomach, a typical side effect of heavy anti-inflammatories. The change to a weaker anti-inflammatory may have helped his stomach, but hurt his knee, allowing the inflammation cycle to re-start. This is actually something of a positive if the problem is controllable inflammation rather than bone-on-bone friction. Many readers have asked if Mauer’s problem might be the new turf at the Metrodome. Though Mauer’s current condition might not be related, most of Minnesota’s injuries are leg- or foot-related, and since few significant factors have changed, one certainly has to take a long hard look at the turf.

  • Is Larry Walker healthy? That’s a loaded question. Walker is never completely healthy, but he’s often healthy enough to be productive. He’ll never be the player he once was, but in the right situation he could help a contender. The Braves are looking long and hard at acquiring Walker. The difficulty is making the finances balance for a Braves team without much flexibility, after which medical clearance must be given. With a solid lineup, a good center fielder, and backup outfielders who could spot Walker a couple times a week, the Braves could be the right situation for Walker to chase the ring he should have won in 1994.

  • Is new Astro manager Phil Garner protecting his star first baseman or prepping for a major change? Garner noted to the press on Monday that Jeff Bagwell is off his game due to his arthritic shoulders. This is not news and has not been news for two years. Maybe Garner is just being his “scrap iron” self, but some suggest that Bagwell’s role might be reduced, opening up at-bats for Jason Lane. Bagwell had no comment.

  • How much cost can be sunk? The Rangers will have their hand forced when Chan Ho Park has his rehab clock end next week. Pitchers are allowed 30 days under the rules. After this, they must be returned to the active roster unless the pitcher agrees to extend the assignment. Even then, the rules look like there may be some limitations. Park has not been great at his stops in the minors, so it is an open question what the Rangers might do. Park is not a great candidate for the bullpen since he does not warm up quickly, but in a pennant race, they will be hard pressed to use a pitcher they have no confidence in. The contract is too big just to eat.

  • Quick Cuts: Why can’t guys like Smith or Jones get injured? Even Chan Ho Park is easy. No, I get Doug Mientkiewicz with a lingering wrist injury. Minky is still unable to swing a bat. Estimates are that he’s out at least another week…R.A. Dickey returns for the Rangers this week. Any pitching is a plus for the surprising Texas team…Cliff Floyd is dealing with a mild hamstring strain. The DL isn’t likely, but he may miss some time to give it some healing…Jeremy Affeldt was cleared to throw on Monday. He could be closing games for the Royals in late August…Brandon Larson is back on the DL with a strained hamstring. Edwin Encarnacion isn’t quite ready yet, but he’s not going to have anything blocking him in 2005…Late word is that Pokey Reese left Monday’s game with a rib injury. I’ll have more tomorrow.

I hope to see many of you in San Diego at the Friday Pizza Feed. Watch the front page for details. We’re doing a “Best of BPR” while I’m gone, so if there’s an interview you missed or thought was really good, let me know and we’ll try and get it in. Until next time, stay healthy!