Less intro, more injuries…

  • It ended as quickly as it came. Brad Penny left in the fourth inning of his start Wednesday, experiencing “similar symptoms” in his pitching arm to what put him on the DL nearly a month ago. Penny’s nerve irritation and biceps problem appears to be recurring at full extension, though I didn’t have the best angle for the endless Tivo loop analysis. If Penny is unable to pitch in his normal side session, he may be shut down, leaving the Dodgers very short-handed. Or should it be short-armed?
  • It’s not a good sign when an team notes column looks like a UTK daily. Luckily, Matthew Leach does his homework. I’ll just run through these quickly since Leach has done the heavy lifting. Larry Walker comes back, but will need rest to keep his shin splints from limiting him. Scott Rolen is out at least the rest of this week with his calf problem. Steve Kline may be back from a strained groin, but his right index finger is now a problem, one that could keep him out of the playoffs. Add on the Chris Carpenter and Matt Morris issues, and you’ll see how a team that looks great on paper might have problems in the playoffs. Actually, this Cards team is starting to look more like the A’s than the A’s themselves.
  • Roy Oswalt pitched pretty well for a guy who has to get spiked with Toradol before his start. He’s behind by four runs at the point where I write this, failed more by his defense than his pitches or his body. Oswalt at one point laid down a sacrifice bunt and looked uncomfortable running to first base. It was also clear that Oswalt was working to stay loose at about the 80-pitch mark, bending over and backwards at times. Injured pitchers must increase their efficiency to remain effective.
  • Can a hotel hurt a team’s playoff chances? Reminding you of yesterday’s “everything counts” theme, the answer is yes. Kerry Wood is questionable for his next start after sleeping in a bed that was too soft. His back is described as “knotted”, forcing him back to Chicago for treatment. Wood made it through his start on Tuesday, but Sunday’s outing is up in the air. Matt Clement is the designated backup for Sunday with Glendon Rusch taking Clement’s next turn. Clement is still struggling to find his release point after a couple starts in which he was plagued by neck pain. He’s going to work with Larry Rothschild on the side in hopes that he’ll only miss one turn. The Cubs haven’t set their playoff rotation yet, with Dusty Baker not giving any indications of who he plans to use and in what order.
  • It’s hard to tell what is medical fact and what is negotiation tactic in the case of Magglio Ordonez. The complicating factor of impending free agency gives both parties–player/agent and team–reason to present their spin rather than the facts. Worse, Ordonez’s condition is one that has not only not been seen in baseball, the doctors and trainers with whom I’ve spoken haven’t seen it in sports. So, we’re dealing with an unknown but potentially serious condition, a rehabbing knee that is months behind schedule, and contentious salary negotiations in their last weeks. In other words, absent a miracle, even my best sources really don’t know what the future holds for Ordonez. This is a classic “buyer beware” situation with upside.
  • One of the most damaging things that can happen to a team is loss of confidence. The same can happen in the relationship between a team and its medical staff. Things happen all the time, both in and out of the control of both parties, that test that trust. In the end, a medical staff can lose a team just as a manager can lose one.

    The Pirates are having that kind of test now in the shadow of the Sean Burnett injury. Kip Wells, dealing with a similar elbow problem, is questioning his program, so the Pirates have enlisted the help of Jim Andrews to try and restore that confidence. Wells will have his records and rehab checked by Andrews. There’s definitely a benefit to bringing in the assistance of a top consultant, but at some point, the Pirates are going to have to look their docs in the eye.

  • Scott Kazmir may have “the curse.” That’s what Josh Beckett calls his skin problems. Kazmir has started treatment for the “hot spot”–I’m not sure if that’s a technical term–by using what the St. Petersburg Times called a “bull riding ointment.” UTK readers will recognize this as Stan’s Rodeo Cream, the ointment invented by Dodgers trainer Stan Johnston, a former bronc rider. The injury is not considered serious at this time, but the Rays will watch closely to avoid “the curse.”

    Quick Cuts: Danny Graves will miss this week and perhaps the rest of the season, depending on his response to treatment. Graves is suffering from strep throat … The Mariners have a terrible record–with young pitchers, that is. The latest of their prospects to come up lame is Cha Seung Baek. He’ll miss a start with a sore shoulder … The day after a start is the telling one. Things felt good, according to Roy Halladay, after his first start back from the DL … Jose Reyes may make a cameo appearance late this week. He’ll be back at shortstop when it happens, in anticipation of moving back there next season.

I’m told that there’s still space available for the Saturday Feed at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. I’ll be there with several other BP Authors, special guests, and maybe a surprise or two. I just hope to have my new phone working by then. If so, I’ll be dangerous!