While the rain (or threat thereof; sadly, Jim Cantore was previously occupied) kept my New York trip from including a Pizza Feed, it wasn’t short on baseball. I was able to get together with people you’ve been reading like Cory Schwarz of (who hosts the great Fantasy 411 on MLB Radio. I’d recommend the August 13th show!), Alex Belth, Jay Jaffe and Allen Barra. Add in dirty-talking puppets, a wicked witch, and one of the best dinners I’ve ever had and I’d call the trip a success. I doubt it will be my last to the boroughs.

Now, it’s back to baseball as we glide into these next 15 days with a re-energized race in the AL Central, a dogfight in the AL West, and two three-team wild-card chases. I’ll be watching closely as teams try to stay healthy before rosters expand.

Powered by Le Parker Meridien, on to the injuries:

  • When Jon Heyman at Newsday tells us that a source told him that Brad Penny had some arm trouble before being traded to the Dodgers, I guess he gave himself away as one of the few non-BP readers in the game. Penny has had a series of arm problems that he’s pitched through. While I’ll make note of those–frayed labrum, elbow pain and this latest nerve injury–I’ll also note that he’s been able to pitch effectively through most of the problems. Penny went to the DL retroactively after the Dodgers determined he would miss a second start, but the original prognosis holds. The Dodgers simply need the roster spot, so don’t get too worried. We’ll have plenty of time for that if Penny isn’t throwing by the end of the week.
  • Word from Minnesota has the team scrambling to find a rehab slot for Joe Mauer. While Mauer’s knee is no less painful or swollen than it was a week ago–when it wasn’t actually that bad–they realize now just how much they need his bat. Three consults later, Mauer has been convinced he can play without further damaging that sore left knee. Expect an extremely short rehab, but not at the now-damaged Fort Myers complex. Rochester and Quad Cities are the most likely locations.
  • Albert Pujols has figured out how to get past his foot injury: just hit homers. It’s a strategy that could work for J.D. Drew, Pujols’ former teammate. Drew missed Sunday’s game with tightness in his quad, an injury that has lingered for months. Both players will be rested more down the stretch, even as both say they don’t want the rest. Watch situations like this if your fantasy team needs the stats that can be lost when a team uses a big lead to rest its stars.
  • It’s not a setback for Mike Mussina; it’s flu. With Jorge Posada catching Alex Rodriguez‘s illness, the Yankees would like to keep Andy Phillips with the club an extra day. This pushes Mussina’s return to Wednesday rather than Tuesday. Mussina reported no problems in his side session this weekend, but he’ll still have an inning and pitch limit. The Yanks will use a six-man rotation briefly, letting Joe Torre and Mel Stottlemyre sort things out and hopefully save the bullpen some wear.
  • Several key relievers are making their way back. Steve Karsay threw in back-to-back games. Karsay is expected to come up in September, but as the Yankees pen continues to be ridden hard, it will be tougher to keep him down until then if he looks healthy and effective. Arthur Rhodes could help fill out an A’s pen that is more cobbled-together than most A’s pens. He’s returning from a back injury and says he’s pain-free. The Cubs could use Joe Borowski, if only because Dusty Baker has such confidence in him. Borowski is on track for a rehab assignment that would get him back in the Cubs pen for September.
  • On the other hand, several key relievers aren’t making progress. Scott Williamson looks to be headed for that short list of players needing to have second Tommy John surgeries. That will force Keith Foulke into more extended outings, testing his stamina. Troy Percival looks like he may be compensating for a sore elbow. His velocity is down and he was seen rubbing his shoulder several times in his last outing. The Angels will watch Percival closely and could use Francisco Rodriguez in some save situations, as they did Saturday, to keep Percival rested. In Kansas City, they’d like to see if Jeremy Affeldt can be their closer next season. He’ll need to stay healthy for a month to show the stuff he has.
  • The Angels hope some of the problems of Percival will be offset by the return of their ace battery. Jarrod Washburn is finally able to throw without pain and will get more aggressive with his rehab. Expect him on a mound this week and on a rehab assignment the week following. Bengie Molina won’t have nearly the wait; he should be back this week.
  • The Mets’ season seems wasted, not because of the trades or because they’ve faded from contention, but because they’ve lost so many opportunities to see if they could be a contender in 2005. Kazuo Matsui has underperformed expectations and now is on the DL with the back injury he suffered early last week. Jose Reyes ended his season with a stress fracture in his left fibula, the latest chapter in a disappointing season and one that raises more questions about his future. Add in the problems Mike Piazza has had and the Mets have no more an idea how good they’ll be in 2005 than they did about 2004.
  • Paul Wilson isn’t being traded right now. Instead, he’ll head to the DL with a back strain. Being on the DL doesn’t prevent a trade, but no one wanted a healthy Wilson, so an injured one isn’t worth a bag of balls. While the injury isn’t considered serious, Wilson won’t be rushed back as the Reds take a look at rotation options for 2005.
  • I won’t bore everyone with yet another rant about why bowling over the catcher should be removed from the “acceptable behavior” list. Still, I get yet another data point for my next rant with Sunday’s Kevin Youkilis vs. Sandy Alomar Jr. clash. Here’s a slow but sizeable player running full speed into a large, fragile catcher. Please tell me how anything good can come of this. The White Sox may have gotten the out, but Alomar injured his groin. The Red Sox are already short of infielders, so they’re lucky Youkilis has only a bruise.

  • Quick Cuts: Phil Nevin got behind the plate for the first time in several years, making fantasy owners everywhere go atwitter. Miguel Ojeda left the game with a wrist injury and Ramon Hernandez had left to attend to the birth of a child … The Cards are saying that Chris Carpenter will make his next start, but privately, they’re saying they’ll try to get him extra rest, if possible, leading into the playoffs … The rest seems to have helped Corey Koskie. He’s been mashing since returning from the DL, including a game-winning homer Sunday to keep the Twins alone in first place … Eric Chavez had some mild back stiffness, but the A’s don’t feel he’ll miss any time … Austin Kearns heads back to Louisville to restart his rehab. He’ll still be asked to get at least 50 at-bats … Boston is hoping Pedro Astacio can take some innings in September … Edwin Jackson will make a rehab start in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

While the Olympics weren’t on the list of things to do in New York, I did catch swimmer Natalie Coughlin Sunday night. If you’ll notice in her bio, Coughlin tore her labrum in 1999 and decided against surgery, eventually rehabbing it. Well, she looks good in Athens. As we begin to learn more and more about injuries in baseball, there may be as much to learn by looking to other sports as well.

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