I’m getting this in a bit earlier tonight so that I can get a good night’s sleep. I have an early (for me) flight into Atlanta for Wednesday’s book signing at the Borders in Buckhead, on Peachtree Road. I’m still trying to figure out how many will be there, so send me a quick e-mail if you’re coming. The signings are always great fun and maybe we’ll go explore a bit after the show.

Of course, I have to be back in Indy on Thursday for the Indians’ Opening Day, a matchup of Curt Schilling against hot prospect Zach Duke. Add in BP Radio taping–and yes, it will be up that quickly in the future–and it’s a busy, busy week. Ain’t it cool?

Powered by frequent flyer miles, on to the injuries:

  • After John Smoltz made his first start in his second run at the rotation, the e-mails started pouring in. “Is he hurt? What’s wrong?” Smoltz pitched poorly, which isn’t always an injury or mechanics question. We all have bad days. It’s easy to point to injury when anything goes wrong. It’s not always the right answer. Smoltz simply pitched poorly and inefficiently against a lineup that was ready to rake. We’ll know more about Smoltz the next time he takes the mound.
  • While Smoltz was getting beat up on the mound, his teammates were getting banged up elsewhere. Johnny Estrada took a sizzling Miguel Cabrera foul off his throwing hand. That just sounds painful, so imagine what Estrada feels like. He stayed in the game, though he’ll spend a lot of time in the training room over the next 48 hours making sure it doesn’t swell. It looks like he’ll miss a couple of games. Jeff Porter got more airtime when he went out to check on Marcus Giles, who scared everyone with an ugly takeout slide that appeared to stuff his knee into the soft dirt around second base. He “popped up” and luckily didn’t twist or break anything in the process. He hobbled off the field and stayed in the game. Again, this is precisely the type of injury that Giles finds. When it’s minor, count your blessings, Braves fans.
  • The Cardinals made a last-minute roster move, dropping Matt Morris on the DL. Like many moves at this point, it was a planned move designed to alleviate a roster crunch. The Cards won’t need Morris until later in the month, giving him time to continue his recovery and perhaps make a start in the minors to tune up. The Cards really seem to enjoy having a minor-league team just a short drive away in Springfield. There are reports that Morris is in the upper 90s, though I’d really like someone to check that gun. Also, I jumped the gun slightly on Rick Ankiel. He was placed on release waivers, but not actually released. You could make a career out of explaining waivers.
  • Like Morris, Schilling and Mark Prior, C.C. Sabathia is spending the first days of April on the DL. Sabathia strained an oblique early in spring training and the slow-healing injury has slowly healed. He’ll get in a minor-league start sometime around mid-month and be back at Jacobs Field before you flip to May on your calendar. Sabathia’s arm strength isn’t a problem, though stamina will be in question for those rehab starts and probably into May.
  • DMPU: Prior will make a rehab start on Thursday in Albuquerque for Triple-A Iowa, focusing on pitch efficiency.
  • The reports on Juan Gonzalez continue to confuse. He’s still at extended spring training, and there’s no report that says anything better than mid-April for a decision. Gonzalez just missed being cut before the Tribe broke camp, so delays can’t help his cause. I’m sure the Indians will wait–there’s little in the way of cost savings now–to see what, if anything, he can do, unless Grady Sizemore makes a case for “why bother?”

  • Quick Cuts: We share a publisher, but don’t think that influences my endorsement of “Mental Toughness” by Karl Kuehl. Great, great book that I can see adding to my pitching students’ reading list … A Cubs player told me “Javier Vazquez didn’t just have no curve, he might as well have put what was coming on the Jumbotron.” That’s actually good news since it’s correctable … As expected, Wade Miller will stay in extended spring training for at least one more start. That still puts him on schedule for May at the latest, an aggressive timetable … We don’t know what Scott Kazmir did this off-season. We do know fixing his violent mechanics wasn’t on the list … Joe Mauer stole second on Monday. If Mauer feels strong enough to try a steal, that’s something … Teams are expected to test Luis Gonzalez‘s repaired throwing arm. So far, he’s looking pretty good.

Again, I hope to see a lot of you in Atlanta and hope to have a lot of you listening in this weekend for BP Radio with Curt Schilling, Paul Lukas and Peter Golenbock, plus hopefully your calls. Back Friday with more of the news from the house of pain.

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