• The Cubs will lean on the Sammy Sosa deal to fill their gap at second base while Todd Walker is out for the next six weeks or so. Walker injured his knee in a collision with the suddenly-getting-a-rep Carlos Lee, though the play looked clean. Walker has a severe Grade II+ tear of his medial collateral ligament. Luckily, he avoided any cartilage or cruciate ligament damage and thereby saved himself from surgery and from missing most or all of the season. While he’s rehabbing, Jerry Hairston Jr. will see most of the time with Mike Fontenot, the Oriole prospect who came over with Hairston. The illustrious Neifi Perez will spot both of them.
  • I didn’t mean to suggest that Justin Morneau had been misdiagnosed. By saying that there was no concussion, I merely was stating that it sounded improbable and felt that there was a miscommunication somewhere in the chain from team to media to public. Taking a fastball off your temple, helmet or not, that results in a Hasim Rahman-like protruberance is usually a sign that there’s at least some concussion, though possibly mild. Morneau said as much, noting that as a hockey player, he’s had concussions before. Several readers wondered the same thing that I did, whether Morneau’s background both as a hockey player and as a catcher might mean that he has some cumulative concussion damage. It’s a possibility, though one I imagine the Twins med staff has addressed. Hopefully, Monday’s tests will lead Morneau back to the field soon.
  • Carl Pavano should make his next start, despite a mild concussion. I’m just thinking out loud here, wondering if there’s not some enterprising soul that could help pitchers at all levels. A small piece of hard plastic at the front and inside of the hat with some foam–Clay Davenport tells me there’s a new substance called Skydex that he expects big things from–could prevent a lot of injuries while not being too obtrusive. Perhaps something like the anti-concussion foam cap that football players wore a couple years ago could be modified for pitchers. Under Armour or Nike could make a slightly padded skullcap to go under the hat. While I worry for Pavano and the rest of the major leaguers each time I see this happen, I worry more for the college and high-school pitchers landing 55 feet from an explosive aluminum bat.
  • For the Dodgers, Brad Penny is like a slow train a’comin’. His next scheduled stop will be a 75-pitch outing somewhere, either in extended spring training or as the start of a rehab assignment in A ball. The latter is less likely as it would start the 30-day clock of the rehab rule for pitchers. Penny has had no setbacks since spring training started, yet no one’s mistaken him for the dominant pitcher that the Dodgers need now. His velocity and stamina are in question, now and when he makes his return, likely in early May.
  • Unexplained elbow inflammation is a problem for any pitcher. For Gil Meche, any arm problem is worse, given what he’s gone through. Some reports have this injury as an inflammation of a triceps tendon near his elbow. Imaging showed no problem; then again, elbows don’t just swell for the heck of it. Given his problematic shoulder, this could be a manifestation of some small mechanical change. Given his lack of control so far, this looks significant. With Bobby Madritsch out already–and the one-month return date on him seems exceedingly optimistic for a recurrent problem–the M’s face a future of pushed or rushed starters, Ryan Franklin‘s amazing outing aside.
  • Someday, the DMPU will end. A good outing by Mark Prior Tuesday should help. Expect him to be on a low pitch count and for him to leave the ball up early. If the Padres try to game that pitch count and frustrate him early, they could see some success. Again, the key will be establishing the breaking ball.
  • Juan Gonzalez is an enigma, even to the Cleveland Indians. His hamstring problem is lingering–or, according to some sources, Gonzalez is malingering. Expected to test the leg in extended spring training, no one seems to have much of an idea when Gonzalez might hit the field. There’s something to not having a defined timetable on some injuries; this isn’t one of those cases.
  • The Rockies will get Chin-Hui Tsao back from the DL on Tuesday. His latest bullpen session was an absolute success, showing not only mid-90s velocity but great control and all his pitches. He won’t immediately become the closer on the occasions where the Rockies need one. Clint Hurdle will continue to spread that around while Tsao settles in.

    The Rox also went good news/bad news as Jorge Piedra tested positive under the minor-league substance policy while Aaron Cook looks on track for a mid-May return from lung problems.

  • Quick Cuts: Error correction: John Smoltz gave up the first of the three home runs on Sunday. The rest of the commentary on him yesterday is correct … Derek Lowe thinks he’ll make his next start after being hit in the arm. Wait, if you can, to be sure … Andy Pettitte is still on a pitch-control program, coming out after 5 1/3 innings Monday. He’ll stay on the program for the month of April … For those of you wondering, yes, the gyroball works … Would someone please explain to me why my cable goes out when it rains heavily for a short period of time? As someone with digital cable, HD cable, VOIP, and a cable modem, it’s a big issue for me … The Twins will go with Dave Gassner rather than Joe Mays to replace Carlos Silva, at least for now.

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