If you’re Brian Sabean, is adding Alex Sanchez to your team really such a good idea? Apart from the baseball reasons, Sanchez is merely going to draw more attention to a team that’s already operating under a cloud of suspicion. People forget that the Giants haven’t had a major leaguer test positive in any of the three years of testing and didn’t have a higher than normal number of minor leaguers caught in this spring’s urinary dragnet. The move is the rough equivalent of thumbing your nose at the public’s perception while waving a red cape at the charging bull of Congressional legislation. Sabean is free to justify this from a baseball standpoint; I just don’t see any way he can do it from a PR point of view.
Powered by the six-minute workout (almost exactly the time it takes to brew up a pot of coffee), on to the injuries:
- Barry Bonds is talking about 2007 while the rest of us are worried about 2005. Don’t be distracted. Bonds and his team have been masterful at deflecting attention away from the current state of affairs throughout this process. The first public statement that the home-run record is important enough to him to stick around is nice, but the slips in the smokescreen help as well. Bonds talks about needing three weeks of “normal workouts” to be ready to play. This would start about the time he’s cleared for baseball activities. He also indicated he’d need a lot of swings, opening the possibility for a short minor-league stint. Watch for the words “stop and start” to appear in his workout shortly. That will be your clue to start the mental clock.
- Rob Dibble and Kevin Kennedy were kind enough to let me help them pronounce “chondromalacia” yesterday on their XM Radio show. Dibble had a lot of interesting questions about injuries, including one about the latest to J.D. Drew. Drew’s knee is believed to have mild chondromalacia, a displacement of articular cartilage. This sometimes involves an avulsion, though Drew’s traumatic event was a hard slide, not something that seemed particularly violent. With his history of patellar problems, this certainly bears watching, though the condition appears to be more about pain management than injury.
- Aubrey Huff is the subject of a load of trade rumors–none close to fruition–so when he injured his knee on a steal attempt, the fans of several teams began watching with interest. Huff will see Dr. Koco Eaton of the Rays to make sure that there’s nothing wrong beyond the diagnosed bone bruise. This is just a team publicly making an injury case known due to the circumstances. The Rays also think Rocco Baldelli will be back by spring training without any restrictions, knee or elbow. One source told me that Baldelli could conceivably be back by the playoffs. Funny guy, that source.
- Ryan Freel is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in baseball. Still, I can’t let a quote like this go by. Freel told the Cincinnati Post that he has a “degenerate toe.” Conservative town that Cincy is, I’m surprised that more tales of Freel’s toe hitting the red-light districts, pubcrawling through Mt. Adams, and running up a Spectravision tab on the road haven’t popped up. I think what Ryan meant to say is that his second toe has a degenerative condition of some sort, though even that seems off from the facts as known. Freel’s toe is inflamed and being managed with occasional cortisone shots. He’s likely facing off-season surgery, assuming he can deal with the pain this season, much as he did with his knee last year. It’s just too bad the Reds don’t have any outfield depth to get Freel some off days …
- Jason Grimsley starts a rehab assignment on Sunday, making it just under nine months from surgeon’s table to competitive pitching mound. It won’t make giving up Denny Bautista for him look any better for the Orioles, but it’s pretty impressive, right? To everyone except Scott Williamson, sure. Williamson is just eight months post-surgical and this was no ordinary operation. Williamson had a second Tommy John surgery to repair what Dr. Tim Kremchek said looked like “a grenade went off in his elbow.” Even given normal setbacks or a conservative schedule, these two relievers are well ahead of the curve. (Dodgers fans, step away from the calendar.)
- The Cubs aren’t sure if Mark Prior will go on Sunday for two reasons. One, they’ll be playing the White Sox and don’t want Prior to be tempted to overthrow or be overtaken by emotion. Second, they’re a bit worried about his residual soreness and are thinking an extra day of rest after his intense rehab might do him some good. There’s no physical reason that Prior couldn’t go on Sunday, so if he’s not on the mound, don’t panic.
- Don’t be too concerned by reports of Larry Walker having an MRI on his upper back and neck. Walker has a mild herniated cervical disc that’s limiting his movement, a condition that can be controlled easily. Walker has enough major conditions that the minor ones really don’t affect him as much as one would normally think. He’ll have his occasional days of rest, being spotted in and out as only Tony La Russa can. With Walker thinking retirement, he’s actually more likely to play through these injuries than before.
- Quick Cuts: In response to my question about what pitchers had Tommy John in 1997 along with Eric Gagne, several readers chimed in with Billy Koch and Matt Morris. I guess one of those is worth watching … Troy Glaus came back with a homer on Thursday, but the wrist is still a concern. Watch closely for any signs of problems … Expect Melvin Mora back on the field this weekend … Sounds like Texas might be ready to shake up their rotation, but not how most would expect … Tim Hudson is not making progress. He’ll take longer than the minimum to come back … Randy Wolf will have Tommy John surgery in the near future with Lew Yocum.
Lots of media action this week, plus pre-orders for Pro Football Prospectus are up. I’m proud to be a part of the team Aaron Schatz put together for this book. I’ll also be contributing a weekly UTK-style column on football injuries over at Football Outsiders this fall. I’ll see you next week.