It seems the whole world is looking towards Wrigley Field and the interleague matchup of the two cursed franchises. Well, one former curse and one that’s currently still running. As the weather heats up, any one series is likely to be as important as another, so I’m trying to avoid the hysteria of the Red Sox invasion. Instead, I’m looking towards the Bay Area, where the BALCO case is starting to heat up again. After Greg Anderson, Barry Bonds‘ personal trainer, dropped an evidentiary hearing hoping to quash both a search and damning statements made by Victor Conte, speculation immediately went up that a deal was in place for the last of the BALCO four. No deal has been announced, but this hearing was the first chance many of us would have had to hear from one of the central figures of the case, IRS Agent Jeff Novitzky. The memo detailing Conte’s statements is an amazing read, giving enough detail to piece together the entire operation of one of the top sources of performance-enhancing substances. We’ll see how this plays out. In the meantime, we’ll talk some draft on BP Radio with Rany Jazayerli and baseball with old pal Boog Sciambi, now one of the voices and faces you see calling games on ESPN.
Powered by Fall Out Boy’s new album, on to the injuries:
- Jim Andrews opened up Octavio Dotel and repaired his elbow. That’s not so much a story; it happens all too frequently, in major leaguers and those just dreaming (a story in this week’s People puts another fine point on the problem of injuries in youth sports). Dotel, on the other hand, is no youth. However, his career isn’t going to be ended by this surgery. It went so well that Andrews believes he may be ready in just nine months, making Dotel and Dotel’s agent very happy. Now the question is what color he’ll wear come Opening Day 2006. The easy part is done, wrapped three times in a figure eight pattern and anchored into the bone.
- The good news for Chipper Jones is that surgery won’t be necessary. The bad news is that Jones went on record, much like Dotel, as saying he didn’t want to hear the specialist, he just wanted the surgery done. The partially torn ligament in his foot should heal given a reduction in stress. Jones will be in a boot for the next four weeks and then take two more to get himself ready physically. It’s a nice tryout for Andy Marte, but the Braves don’t sound excited by the prospect of seeing the prospect break in during a tight division race.
- I’ll venture a guess that venison won’t be on the menu at the next Rockies team dinner. The Denver-area press is making a big deal about the fact that Clint Barmes was carrying a … what’s a big bunch of venison? Is there a word for that? What matters is the injury and again, there was no reason to doubt this. The speculation about ATVs is simply speculation, so making this a Jeff Kent or Ron Gant situation isn’t going to change the fact that Barmes will miss the rest of the season.
- Things aren’t getting better for the Reds. Just days after manager Dave Miley got the dreaded visit from ownership, he learned that Paul Wilson will be shut down for the foreseeable future. Wilson had been throwing and building towards a return until Dr. Tim Kremchek ordered the quiet period. Wilson has been dealing with a painful and swollen shoulder since nearly the beginning of the season. The Reds activated Luke Hudson and gave him the Thursday start. Expect a continued audition for what remains of Cincy’s young pitching, despite it’s effect on Miley.
- The warning I gave about Kelvim Escobar–that his pain tolerance was all that was standing between him and a scalpel–came to pass a bit quicker than I expected. Escobar pulled himself out of his last start, unable to deal with the pain and swelling caused by a bone spur. The surgery itself is minor and Escobar could miss as few as six weeks, though eight is the norm. This will be Escobar’s third clean-up of his pitching elbow, each one just a bit sooner than the last. By the time he needs his next one, he’ll likely have left baseball behind. Ervin Santana is expected to be called up to take his slot in the rotation. This makes Jarrod Washburn, rumored to be part of some trade talks, less likely to be leaving LA.
- It’s slow and steady for Barry Bonds and his rehabbing knee. While all signs are positive, Bonds still is at least a week away, probably more, from returning to baseball activities. As things progress, it should be interesting to see how this generation’s best hitter deals with nearly nine months away from the batter’s box. It’s also interesting to note that Armando Benitez is already walking unaided.
- Tim Worrell is reportedly on the verge of returning to the Phillies, according to Dickie Noles, the Phillies’ EAP advisor. Worrell left the team due to undisclosed personal reasons, widely assumed to be some sort of stress or panic condition. Assuming Worrell has his head clear and can find his previous pitching form–the ’04 version, not ’05–he’ll make the Phillies pen a strength of the team, along with newly acquired Ugueth Urbina setting up for Billy Wagner. (Which reminds me–reports that Urbina’s behavior forced a trade don’t jibe with accounts I’m hearing. Urbina had long been on the block.)
- Quick Cuts: Sources tell me that the bids for the Nationals have Ron Burkle (grocery stores) and Jeff Smulyan (radio, former Mariners owner) as the top bidders … The Padres went to see Daisuke Matsuzaka. Yeah, you know what that means–anticipation of the best Japanese pitcher in America, complaints from the Pads that they can’t afford his posting, and talk of the gyroball … Go on. Tell me “My Sharona” isn’t one of the best rock n’ roll songs of all time … The Nats are paying attention. After Livan Hernandez threw 150 pitches, they made sure he had an extra day’s rest … Kevin Millwood is on track to return late next week.