That spinning sound you hear? On to the injuries …
- The Phillies need another injury like Larry Bowa needs an aneurysm. Pat Burrell has an injured left wrist, so we should all watch to see if this is what finally makes Bowa explode. Not get fired, I mean explode. At the very least, he should rival Lou Piniella or Hal McRae in the caliber of public meltdown. Burrell injured his wrist while–wait for it–checking his swing. Burrell does not expect to be out beyond the 15 days, but even when ready to play, he may lose some bat speed and power.
- Sometimes an injury is just an injury; other times, an injury is good timing. Steve Finley not only has a tender hamstring, but he’s running a lifetime 0-fer against Thursday’s opposing pitcher, Randy Wolf. This isn’t a case of Bigunititis. Finley legitimately has some hamstring tightness, but it’s a great spot for Jim Tracy to rest Finley and keep his bench sharp. Finley should miss a minimum of time, but expect Tracy to steal some rest for his center fielder in similar situations throughout August.
- Ivan Rodriguez could stop now and still have had a valuable season. In fact, it would make a lot of sense for him to take a break. With his back spasming from time to time and fatigue taking its toll on his hitting, some time off might do him and the team some good. There’s nothing to be concerned about in the medium or long term, but it is an indication why it’s so difficult for catchers to hit well for the entire season. As much as I talk about fatigue with pitchers, it’s even more evident with catchers.
- Catching is hard. Joe Mauer will likely not catch again this season and it’s a very open question if he’ll play in any capacity. Next season, depending on how his damaged left knee responds, he may need to move to another position. The Twins are publicly staying quiet, but behind the scenes, they’re considering Mauer as a possible successor to Corey Koskie at third base. A final decision will be made late next week after another consultation.
- The Marlins are trying to wring all the value they can out of their recent trade. Using Guillermo Mota as closer while Armando Benitez heals up is a nice turn, but Benitez comes back this weekend. I remain unconvinced that Mota won’t overtake Benitez on the depth chart, but together, I’m guessing they won’t put up the same value as the departed Brad Penny will.
- When your highly paid pitcher says he “needs a miracle,” it’s past the point of getting worried. Andy Pettitte made it through a bullpen session with what observers described as a “minimum of pain and reaction.” Pettitte and the Astros now anticipate that he will make his start on Saturday. He’ll be limited, but will essentially pitch to pain tolerance. There’s no more damage he can do short of blowing out his UCL, a part that the Astros say is not compromised. The Astros also have problems at the lower end of the rotation, losing Darren Oliver after only one inning on Thursday. Early reports focus on tightness in his pitching shoulder. Oliver’s slot in the rotation will be filled by Pettitte, which would have happened regardless of injury.
- You say hello, but Ken Griffey Jr. says goodbye. Just one game into his most recent return, Griffey’s hamstring tightened and he was removed from the game. Griffey will be out of the lineup until he can once again make it through a series of drills with no problems. Expect him back in the lineup sometime over the weekend. Most interesting was the shift of Griffey to right field. Manager Dave Miley explained that it was more to do with the sizeable center field of SBC Park rather than a permanent shift. The Reds should get Austin Kearns back early next week. He made his first start of this rehab assignment at Triple-A, going 1-for-4 with a walk.
- Enrique Wilson is hurting his team. That’s not the first time that sentence has been written, but in this case, it’s literally true. Wilson’s unavailability forced Alex Rodriguez–who had been clipped just under the kneecap by a pitch on Tuesday–to play despite a sore knee. Wilson has an MRI done on his right shoulder, which is listed as “bruised.” He injured it diving after a ball, also on Tuesday. The Yankees were not involved in any discussions for Roberto Alomar, despite the chance that Wilson could go on the DL.
The Yankees could get some welcome, if a bit unreliable, bullpen help, as a decision about bringing Steve Karsay to the Bronx will be made over the weekend.
- Dr. Lewis Yocum has had a full waiting room lately. Tony Armas will be visiting the good doctor soon to take another look at the shoulder Yocum repaired last off-season, which doesn’t bode well. Armas is almost sure to head to the DL, leaving the Expos extremely short-handed in the rotation. The Expos are also missing Nick Johnson for a few games. His sore knee is, for him, very minor and won’t require more than a weekend of rest.
- Peter Gammons writes in his latest column that “one thing you can bet on” is that “Justin Jones will turn out to be a good pitcher.” Everyone in these parts knows how much I respect Peter, so I’ll put my money where my mouth is. If Jones is ever as good as Kyle Lohse (another pitcher the Twins got from the Cubs) is right now (VORP = 6.4), then I’ll not only buy dinner at the Winter Meetings, but I’ll also put $100 in the till of the Jimmy Fund.
- The Boston press continues to go after Nomar Garciaparra in the nastiest breakup this side of O.J. and Nicole. In a Boston Globe piece, it’s now being alleged that the Achilles injury occurred in an off-season soccer workout rather than in spring training. While this would, if true, put Nomar in something of a negative light, it’s unclear why this would surface now. If the Red Sox knew this injury had occurred off the field, it would be incumbent on them to say so, especially if this involved worker’s compensation in any way. I don’t get the venom and it doesn’t affect Garciaparra’s current prognosis.
- Quick Cuts: Michael Young is toughing it out, putting himself back at shortstop despite continued back spasms. Watch this closely … Taking Carl Pavano 111 pitches into a five-run win on three days’ rest is a lot different than winning the World Series with a pitcher on short rest. The Marlins don’t seem to notice … Vicente Padilla is scheduled to return to the Phillies on Tuesday … The Twins will be without Nick Punto for the rest of the season. Hey Twins Fans – that means more Luis Rivas! … Chris Snelling is finally back on the field, but won’t see Seattle this season. Rafael Soriano is much more likely to be inside Safeco come September … Russell Branyan is having wrist problems and may need to hit the DL … Scott Schoeneweis will head to the DL with shoulder pain, making roster room for Roberto Alomar … I said yesterday that Kazuo Matsui had a reputation as a slow healer. Since he played in 1,500 consecutive games in Japan, I’m not sure what he might have healed from. Yes, I’m checking the source.