No real intro here, just an admonition. Go watch HBO’s “Nine Innings From Ground Zero”. If you don’t have HBO, get a friend who does. It’s that good, proof that MLB putting effort into this type of thing pays dividends. There doesn’t have to be a national tragedy to put on a great show. NFL Films proved it with their halftime piece on Brett Favre Monday. If it weren’t for NFL Films, fantasy and gambling, no one would really watch football, would they?

On to the injuries…

  • Long-time readers of UTK will recognize that I normally sort injuries in this column according to the interest level. Playoff teams rise to the top this time of year and big-name players stay near the top the rest of the time. Why, then, is this first item on a Pirate? Sean Burnett has been on the DL for quite a while and certainly doesn’t factor into any playoff races, but the handling of his injury has been called into question both by several of my sources and by print reports. On Tuesday, team doctors diagnosed Burnett with a complete tear of his UCL during a session that was part of his rehab program. He’s headed for a visit with Jim Andrews and is likely to miss the ’05 season, even with the new rehab timetable. Report after report after report showed that the Pirates may not have had a handle on how serious this injury was. I’m not there, so there may be circumstances that are non-public, but if I were writing the checks in Pittsburgh, I’d want to know where the breakdown in the system happened that cost me a promising young pitcher for a year.
  • The timing surprised me, but the fact that Jason Giambi was back in the Yankees’ lineup did not. Although Giambi had a less than stellar stint at Columbus–2-for-16 in Triple-A is hardly what one would expect from an All-Star–the relevant fact is that Giambi had no significant setbacks there. His opening oh-fer wasn’t exactly Willis Reed material, but few doubt that Giambi, when healthy, still has the talent that the Yankees are paying so dearly for.
  • Thanks to all who pointed out that Kevin Brown used Mel Stottlemyre as his glove over the weekend. Wait, that sounded wrong. During Brown’s throwing session, Stottlemyre caught the ball from the catcher and handed it to Brown. Until Brown can catch the return throw and credibly field his position, the Yankees can’t put him on the mound. His arm will be ready the second his glove hand is, which, according to sources, could be two weeks away.

    Gary Sheffield is also feeling more pain in his shoulder. Then again, he didn’t go slamming it into a wall, did he? Sheffield will likely have another cortisone injection, but hopes to delay it so that he is as pain-free as possible come playoff time.

  • As the Red Sox were looking past the Devil Rays to this weekend’s series with the Yankees, Scott Kazmir was making those games both more and less critical to both teams. The Sox dropped the first game of the series in Boston and may have lost Bill Mueller to another knee injury. Mueller left the game after the second inning with soreness in his right knee. He’ll be examined tomorrow, though early indications have this being minor.
  • Reports from Oakland are relatively positive in regards to Jermaine Dye. The new plastic brace is allowing him to hit without significant pain, although it remains to be seen how he’ll do against live pitching. Dye will continue to hit during BP and, at some point later this week, will test it during a simulated game. Any contribution from Dye now is a bonus.

    The A’s are also currently without the services of Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes’ back is once again acting up. Some discussion of bringing up Huston Street is making the rounds. Prospect maven Bryan Smith thinks Streets could be ready for set-up duty now, but doesn’t foresee the A’s using him in the playoffs given the other options and Rich Harden‘s likely shift.

  • After Odalis Perez had another shaky start, the whispers started up again concerning his health. Both elbow and shoulder are being questioned; Perez’s pitching shoulder has been a problem on and off all season. The alternating good and bad days usually points out that a diagnosis of tendonitis is at least part of the problem. The Dodgers are already on that, so don’t get too worked up by a poor outing. Outward signs of pain are an entirely different matter, and those are what should worry Dodgers fans. Worse, Adrian Beltre left Tuesday’s game for what the Dodgers are calling “undisclosed reasons.” Beltre fell during an at bat, so the likely culprit is a minor recurrence of his ankle problems.
  • The Cubs managed to confuse a lot of people when reporting on Nomar Garciaparra and his recent injury. As regular readers and those with a basic understanding of sports medicine know, a strain is a “partial of complete tear of a muscle or tendon.” So the Cubs saying that they were glad that Garciaparra had a strain and not a tear might confuse some people. The common usage of tear for grade II+/III strains may be acceptable, but it is hardly precise. Garciaparra should be back for the weekend series.

    The Cubs were also pleased that Matt Clement made it through his Tuesday start with no neck problems, as he suffered from them in his last two short outings. The Cubs are also pleased with the progress of Kyle Farnsworth, recovering from the knee injury he suffered when he kicked a fan.

  • If my above comments about placement are true, how is a guy like Terry Tiffee this high? The Twins really can’t afford to lose Tiffee right now. After the rookie dislocated his shoulder running into the fully set Ivan Rodriguez on a play at the plate, the Twins are really hurting. Corey Koskie is, for all intents, out for the regular season. The Twins will be forced to play Michael Cuddyer at third and Augie Ojeda at second (until Luis Rivas has working feet, probably Thursday), with only Jose Offerman as a realistic backup. This is a bad situation, even with a significant lead. The Twins, of course, don’t need luxuries like infielders when Johan Santana is on the mound. There are also new indications that Joe Mauer could be back for the playoffs, but with Mauer, I’m taking a standard policy of “I’ll believe it when I see it.”
  • The Braves sighed after an MRI showed no severe damage in the left knee of Mike Hampton. While Hampton did tear cartilage, he should be able to pitch through the playoffs without exacerbating the damage. Interestingly, Hampton also received a Synvisc shot, the artificial joint lubricant, which could point to a more severe degeneration inside Hampton’s left knee.
  • It hurts any person to have an injured right index finger. It hurts a shortstop even more when he injures said finger bobbling the ball on a routine play. Khalil Greene is living with that pain for a couple of days. Actually, that’s not right. The problem is that Greene’s finger has gone numb. While sources tell me the Padres don’t think the injury is serious, he is expected to be out until the weekend. He’s still available as a pinch-runner or emergency pinch-hitter.
  • Have you noticed that there’s been a lot of nothing said about the Montreal Expos recently? Here we are, nearly halfway into September, and I can tell you more about where the Habs are going to be next year than I can the Expos. Someone should ask Bob DuPuy.

    On the field, the Expos are finally free of the deafening roar of The Cell. All 9,460 fans who saw the series between the Expos and Marlins surely got their money’s worth, at least. The Expos lost Terrmel Sledge to a dislocated pinky, while getting Jon Rauch and Tomo Ohka off the DL. Ohka’s return from a broken forearm is especially good to see.

  • There are a lot of things that go into contract negotiation: the hometown discount, the no-trade clause, the bonuses, but the Blue Jays added a new one. The “groin plan” helped them keep Frank Catalanotto in th …well, let’s not pick on the ugly grey if we don’t have to. F-Cat recently underwent groin surgery, one of the injuries that kept this fine hitter off his game for most of the season. His value depressed by injury, the Jays smartly realize that F-Cat will be back for next season and isn’t likely to have as many health problems.

  • Quick Cuts: Errata: my comment on a Rick Ankiel start was incorrect. I could give you the full explanation, but suffice it to say I misread something … Kazuo Matsui may be back sometime next week to play a couple games at shortstop. The cortisone injections in his back have helped. Perhaps he just wants to say goodbye to Art Howe in person … Since everyone else is putting their two cents, I’ll put in mine: Frank Francisco should get a ten-game suspension and the criminal and civil justice should take care of the rest … What is it with baseball and pinkeye this season? Austin Kearns is the latest to update the old slogan: “Baseball Pinkeye: Catch It!” … It looks like the saga regarding Ugueth Urbina and his
    kidnapped mother may be coming to a conclusion
    . Let’s all hope it comes out well for everyone except the criminals … Roberto Alomar is done for the season with back problems. He looks done, period … While we’re saying goodbye to old friends, longtime UTK supporter David Segui is back on the DL. Somehow, it’s fitting that he’ll end his career in the place he spent so much of it … Add Mike Sweeney to the “pointless late-season returns” column. I’d rather see Calvin Pickering get some more at-bats.

If you’re in the path of Hurricane Ivan, get the heck out of dodge. This is going to be a nasty one, perhaps another Camille. Also, to anyone who’s called me on my cell phone in the past week, the voice mail (and the whole phone) is wonky. Those of you that should have the cell number probably have the home number. (By the way, I’m still hoping someone out there wants to cut a deal with me on a new phone and service. That Motorola A630 sure looks nice, but a Blackberry would do the job.)

Thank you for reading

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