It’s been an interesting week at UTK headquarters. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will say what an odd feeling it was to see my name and words in Sports Illustrated. It’s a magazine that’s truly at the pinnacle of its field, and I was honored that they wanted to excerpt The Juice. Still, what I do best and most is dig into the injury information and that’s what we’ll do here.
Powered by my readers, on to the injuries …
- You didn’t have to be a doctor, trainer or even a medhead to look at the picture of Nomar Garciaparra, writhing in pain just outside the batter’s box, and know that it was bad. Garciaparra strained his groin severely, needing assistance just to leave the field.
Painful as it might have been, initial pain is not always an accurate indicator of the severity of an injury. Garciaparra will have an MRI on Thursday to determine the extent of the tear. That will tell us just how long he’ll be out, though early indications make it seem unlikely that Garciaparra will avoid the DL. Rumors were already circulating that the Cubs and Phillies might get together on a deal for Placido Polanco or Chase Utley if the injury is serious.
- A couple of reports came out of San Francisco yesterday that were negative for Barry Bonds. On the injury front, it was said that Bonds was “healing slowly” and that his timetable was still unclear. Felipe Alou was very vague in his quotes. Nothing in these reports seems new. From the second surgery and word from both Bonds and the Giants medical staff, everything was going to be done conservatively and with no hesitation to slow things down. I don’t see how that has changed, so my target date is still May 15, though pushing that back a couple of weeks wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
The other report tells us something about Bonds’ loyalty and less about his common sense. Bonds is reportedly working out with Greg Anderson…the same Greg Anderson currently under indictment (though working on a plea bargain at last report) in the BALCO case.
- I’ll often use the word “cascade”–a term I recently was reminded that I took from network science–to describe how one injury can affect the body so much that it causes other injuries. The same is true for teams; one injury often creates a cascading effect that forces them to make moves, to consider trades they wouldn’t otherwise, or to shift people around on the diamond. Sometimes, it just changes plans. If Elmer Dessens is unable to go due to a shoulder problem, the Dodgers have Brad Penny at the ready. They’d hoped to keep Penny away from Coors Field, but circumstances are what they are. Penny appears ready, whenever his 2005 debut occurs.
- The first step in the return of any pitcher is merely throwing. It’s the basic skill of the game, standing and tossing the ball to someone a distance away. Whether it’s a catch with your pop or 60 feet, six inches of pure heat that sounds like silk ripping, it’s a simple beauty.
Eric Gagne took his first step back by playing catch in the outfield. It’s a ways off from dominating hitters again, though certainly a positive. Gagne will continue to throw, testing both his elbow and knee, progressing to long-toss and eventually pitching from a mound. This will take a matter of weeks most likely, so based on what we know now, Gagne might be back towards the middle of May.
- Things have been going pretty well for Joe Mauer. He’s had no setbacks with his knee since spring training. His manager is discussing expanding his usage behind the plate and sending down the fourth catcher, indicating some degree of confidence. This is all positive news; just remember it’s the long term that worries me about Mauer and catching. Can he hold up as a catcher? Sure, for some period of time. It could be six weeks, it could be six years, but worse than me not knowing is the Twins not knowing. It’s up to them to make sure that he’s the most valuable he can be while he’s a Twin; as a hometown guy, you have to think they want him long term.
- The Palm Springs Angels of Anaheim got some slugging back–they hope. Dallas McPherson was brought back from Triple-A and immediately went into the lineup for the Angels. Going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts wasn’t exactly what the Angels were hoping for, but it’s part and parcel of McPherson’s game. Personally, I see McPherson and see Russ Branyan with a back injury.
- The M’s may get a look at the “outfield of the future” sooner than we expected. With Scott Spiezio heading to the DL with a strained oblique, Shin-Soo Choo was called up. A grouping of Choo, Jeremy Reed and Ichiro Suzuki would look pretty good to a lot of M’s fans and better if Chris Snelling was the fourth outfielder. Spiezio was injured on his only hit of the season, a delicious bit of Morrisettian irony, if not the real kind.
- The Devil Rays have moved Rocco Baldelli from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. This isn’t a setback. Instead, it’s merely a procedural move allowing them to call up an emergency starter–John Webb–without materially affecting their 40-man roster. Baldelli is still on track for a return around the All-Star break, though he has yet to start baseball activities.
- Add Agustin Montero to the illustrious list of violators of the new major-league drug prevention policy. His early defense that he used a prescription drug doesn’t hold a lot of water, given what we know about the policy. While there are prescription drugs that would cause a positive test, there are also defined procedures for getting “therapeutic waivers” for their use in a medical setting. The New York Times notes that the suspension will cost him $4,918. I’m waiting for someone to note that all three players that have tested positive have been Latin; I can find no other common thread.
- Just a further note on Magglio Ordonez. I was reminded that the escape clause for the Tigers has a second trigger. If Ordonez finishes the year on the DL, the Tigers can void the remainder of the contract.
- Quick Cuts: Manny Ramirez left Tuesday’s game with a slight quad strain. No one seemed concerned, least of all Manny. The best pure hitter in the game will get the occasional time off to keep him healthy … Wade Miller will have another rehab start on Saturday, probably in Double-A Portland. Depending on results and schedule, he could be with Boston for the next start, though one more rehab outing is likely … A.J. Pierzynski has been surprisingly quiet in all respects so far as a White Sock … Joe Borowski was able to throw for a second consecutive day from the mound. He’ll have an X-ray and then the team will decide where he goes for rehab … Kudos to Richie Bancells for his great work in recognizing the signs of a stroke in coach Elrod Hendricks. The Orioles trainer may have saved Hendricks’ life and certainly reduced chances that the stroke will continue to impact Hendricks … Jonathon Ledecky is one of the bidders for the Washington Nationals. I had no idea what that kid was up to these days or that “Jerry Maguire” made that much money. “Did you know Nick Johnson‘s head weighs sixteen pounds?”