After a nice, quiet weekend, let’s get right into what looks to be a supersized UTK. Powered by trying to figure out where the next Pizza Feed should be–I’m thinking St. Louis–on to the injuries…
- I think it’s annoying that everyone is suddenly a “nation.” It’s Red Sox Nation, Sooner Nation, this nation, that nation, the other nation. There are a couple of fan bases that first laid claim to the term–I’m not sure who, though Howard Schnellenberger is the first I can remember using the term during his short stay as the head of Sooner Nation–but the rest should shoot for some originality.
I mention this because if there were an Angels Nation, they’d have collectively gasped on Friday night. Vladimir Guerrero slid while scoring and dislocated his shoulder partially, hurting the Angels’ chances of fending off their AL West competition. Guerrero’s injury is more like that of Derek Jeter a few years ago than that of Ken Griffey Jr.. The biggest negative so far is all the swelling. Thus far, the Angels have been unable to do an MRI to see how much damage happened internally. Until we have those images, we’re just guessing as to his return. With Garret Anderson also hurting, some have speculated about a Darin Erstad return to center field. The shift makes sense, and rumors that Erstad’s back would not hold up in center might be given more credence if there were no consideration being given to this move at all.
- The Yankees and Mets beat each other up physically during the first set of the Subway Series. Derek Jeter took a hard pitch off the point of his non-throwing elbow on Saturday, causing significant swelling. The description of the “puffy” elbow recalls both the “Seinfeld” episode and simple protective inflammation. The problem is not likely to be serious nor lingering. Jorge Posada was spiked by, of all things, a reliever sliding home. He too is expected to be back on the field after a full day of rest and treatment on Monday.
- Carlos Beltran suffered the most serious injury of the many on both sides of the subway–and if there is no single subway line that runs between Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, why isn’t this the “Find a Cab Series?” While Beltran’s quad strain didn’t start over the weekend, it certainly took itself to the next level, going from a described “soreness” to a pain. So far this year, Beltran has been suspiciously slow on the basepaths and reluctant to steal, giving some indication that the problem is one of long standing. He’s certainly valuable even without his speed and base smarts, but more valuable with them intact. Beltran will need rest and treatment to get the quad back to normal health. A DL stint is unlikely, though not out of the question.
- The Astros don’t need much more bad news, so they’ll err on the side of caution with Andy Pettitte. His surgically repaired elbow is a little swollen and tender. It’s not enough to put him on the DL, but skipping a start is the smart play at this stage. That the pain is in the spot that was repaired is actually a positive, showing the same problem healing rather than a new, associated problem. Pettitte shouldn’t miss more than the single outing. It is interesting to note all the Roger Clemens to New York rumors and not hear a single Pettitte return possibility.
- Curt Schilling is bootless. That would be bad if he was in, say, Texas. In Boston, it’s worthy of something just short of a parade. The team has hardly collapsed without him, but neither has it been able to make up any ground. Schilling has been able to keep his arm loose while in the boot, adjusting his motion only slightly to keep his arm ready. He’ll just need to get his mechanics and functional conditioning back in line before heading back to the mound. His workouts on the side will determine if he gets to visit his friends in Pawtucket again, though sources say that the Red Sox and Schilling hope to avoid this. This isn’t a diva thing–older pitchers have a certain number of starts in them, even the freaks like Schilling or Clemens. Wasting them on rehab starts is seldom the best use, despite David Wells‘ results in his first start back.
- Every year, there’s some injury that crops up and becomes almost a fad. Oblique injuries, flexor tendons, high ankle sprains…normally these are simply a change in diagnostics or a change in nomenclature. The dommages de l’année seems to be the “tight forearm.” Unlike most injuries, this seems to be something new with no clarifying feature. Mike Hampton is hardly the same type of pitcher that Carlos Zambrano is or that Jarrod Washburn is, yet they’re only a few of the several “tight forearm” sufferers this season. The injury isn’t a long term negative and it seems to be one that lingers, albeit intermittently. I’m not quite buying the “too much Internet” meme that the Cubs are selling on Zambrano, but overall, there’s no real direction that the sports med field is heading with this. Watch closely. As Jay Jaffe says, “I think it’s the ball.”
- The question with Octavio Dotel was more whether he could hold his value up enough to get traded, opening up the A’s closer slot for Huston Street. Instead, Dotel heads to the DL. If he comes back–a big if given the whispered reports on the elbow–then he’ll likely serve as a set-up man. It’s a role he’s excelled in, so this isn’t so much a negative as a lost opportunity.
Nick Swisher is also closing in on a return, though it’s unclear if he’ll move directly back into the OF/1B rotation that Ken Macha had going before his injury. (For the record, Swisher will be back right in the middle of his prognosis.)
- The Marlins will wait just a bit longer for Guillermo Mota to make it back to the pen. Jack McKeon is actually using that pen these days, laying off the starters and having a lot of people crediting Mark Wiley for the big turnaround. Mota will make a quick rehab cameo in A ball, then come back to the big club at the start of next week. He’ll slot directly back into the closer role, more out of default than anything else.
- The Giants should get Jason Schmidt back on Tuesday, coming off a precautionary DL stint. A small defect at the back of his shoulder was caught early; the rest appears to have him back to the physical state he needs. His first few innings will tell a lot.
The Giants also made a move with Barry Bonds, shifting him to the 60-day DL. This means nothing except to the 40-man roster; multiple sources are now telling me that Bonds himself is aiming for the All-Star Game as his return date. Yes, I said “Game.” Finally, the Giants are waiting to see how Armando Benitez recovers from hamstring surgery. It’s not one that’s common in baseball and it’s even less common in pitchers. The team called in help from the 49ers. Benitez is still a possible for September.
- Switch-hitters sometimes make injury analysis a very difficult thing. Chipper Jones is fine left-handed, but turn him around and the oblique strain stops him in his tracks. Jones will take at least a game off, perhaps more, as he continues to resist the DL while trying to heal that injury. He’s risking making the problem significantly worse and given the slow-healing nature of the injury in the first place, the prospects are good that things will go bad. I’m curious–do switch-hitters ever practice hitting without the advantage?
- Let’s add the term “Swimex” to the medhead vocabulary. We’ve seen this word popping up more frequently as more teams, usually those in new or renovated settings, install this high-tech rehab and conditioning pool. Swimex is a brand name–there are other similar products–that’s becoming a generic term like “Band-Aid” that overwhelms the space. Magglio Ordonez has progressed in his rehab to the point where he’s using a Swimex. When you hear this, it means that the player is to the point where he’s moving well but not quite ready for full weight bearing. It’s a nice intermediate step that improves return times for players with leg and back injuries. Use it as a milestone when playing the home game of UTK.
- The Diamondbacks have worked their way into first place after what many–myself included–thought was a disastrous offseason. Russ Ortiz isn’t worth the money the team gave him, but everything else is turning to gold. One of the more interesting things is the bullpen that Joe Garagiola has slowly put together. Greg Aquino was supposed to be the closer, but when he went down, the much-travelled Brandon Lyon took over. When he went down, Brian Bruney showed that the future closer is ready now. Depth is good for covering injuries, but if the D’backs stay close, that depth could fill in holes or shorten games. Aquino should be back shortly while Lyon is expected back around June 1, so don’t spend too much FAAB on Bruney.
- Fifty points of slugging is a lot to lose in a week. Troy Glaus has done it while his knee has been the culprit, weakening his base and sapping his light tower power. Of course, the .649 SLG that he started the week with was high and the .599 he ended with would still be his career high, so all is not lost. Glaus’ situation should level off somewhat as the knee responds to cortisone and as Glaus adjusts to yet another injury. He’s the type of player who won’t age well, having taken so much punishment just staying out on the field.
- Quick Cuts: Juan Gonzalez in Cleveland by June? Sounds likely … Joel Pineiro is back in Seattle, starting on Tuesday after a “demotion” was used for a week’s mechanical work. This seldom works, though each coach/player combination is clearly different … Todd Walker has started hitting in Iowa. A few more games with hits and he’ll push Jerry Hairston Jr. back to the bench … I get the coolest stuff from readers … Greg Colbrunn heads under the knife, missing the better portion of a second straight season. Please explain why he’ll get a job next season over a deserving Triple-A hitter like Jim Rushford (872 OPS at Scranton) or Jason Romano (761 OPS in Louisville while coming back from hamstring surgery) … Orlando Hernandez heads to the DL, giving Brandon McCarthy a quick audition. His mechanics looked pretty good on Sunday, even closely compared to Mark Prior‘s … Jeremy Affeldt is on his way back. Ken Harvey is on his way to the DL. Mike Sweeney is on the block. Royals on their way to 120 losses? … Watch for Oliver Perez on his return. Spin Williams has been working to simplify the complex machinery of his lefty ace’s delivery … The Devil Rays do injury prevention right. Jeff Niemann might have been on track for a mid-season callup, but making sure his shoulder is right is the smarter move for a franchise that’s still all long term … Nothing’s gone right for Ramon Ortiz this year. He left Sunday’s start looking like he’d been hit by Lamon Brewster. It was a bounding groundball that got him, not the heavyweight champ. Wait–does Ortiz look like a light heavyweight to you?