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Just when I think I’ve seen everything, I see Neifi Perez hit a game-winning grand slam. Baseball is my passion, and this looks to be a great week for it, both on and off the field. With BALCO behind us and at least one more year of labor peace ahead, things look better than they have for a while. So, let’s head into the trade deadline/Hall of Fame weekend and see what surprises us all week long.

Powered by three weekend Jamba Juices and a hope they’ll come to Indy soon, on to the injuries:

  • The truth hurts. After a week of digging and a reasoned article from Jay Mariotti, we now know that Kerry Wood is dealing with more than a simple muscle strain or even a more serious tear. The dreaded word has been spoken: “labrum.” It appears that Wood has a frayed labrum, the least serious of all labrum injuries. It’s unclear whether Wood will need off-season surgery, but even that would be more along the lines of what Matt Morris went through than something like Chris Carpenter. Wood would probably take the results that either pitcher has had. Once again, Wood will need to focus on mechanics or the Cubs will have to take the idea of Wood as closer a bit more seriously. In the short term, the cortisone injection is working its way through the joint space and the results thus far have been neutral. Wood will miss his next start, replaced by curveballer Rich Hill in a showcase outing, and a DL decision will be made later this week.

    The Cubs have better news on Nomar Garciaparra. The new Winnetka resident will start his rehab assignment in low-A Peoria this week, putting him on track to be in Wrigley Field no later than mid-August. (A position player gets 20 days on a rehab stint.) The Cubs have indicated that they’re not sure how Dusty will use Garciaparra and Perez together. An offense/defense platoon seems likely, with Perez getting more starts to keep Garciaparra from being taxed too much until he proves his health. Expect another one-year deal to be announced sometime in September.

  • Cardinals fans got quite the shock on Saturday when Albert Pujols was out of the lineup with a shoulder strain. The Cards’ press releases were vague, and where there’s an information gap, there’s usually fear and speculation. It turned out the fear was overblown; Pujols was able to pinch-hit and was back in the lineup on Sunday. The mild strain affects his throwing more than his hitting and doesn’t actually do much there. Expect Pujols to get a few more days off here and there, something Tony La Russa does very well with his stars.

    The Cards can’t afford much more in the way of injuries, even with their top-line depth. The biggest concern is that Scott Rolen will need more surgery on his damaged shoulder. The official diagnosis is an inflamed rotator cuff, though there appears to be a very good comp for the injury, Austin Kearns. Rolen was injured in a basepath collision; with Kearns, many have argued that he’s only now beginning to get over the 2003 collision with Ray King. Remember that Rolen is also dealing with a knee that will need off-season surgery and the loss looks more possible. The Cards’ injuries will inform Walt Jocketty’s decisions as he works the phones this week.

  • It appears that Chipper Jones is going to continue to have problems with his left foot for the foreseeable future. After rushing back to the lineup, Jones has had a couple flare-ups that have pushed him right back to the bench. The pain is once again near the ball of the foot, hurting Jones both at bat and in the field. He’ll continue to receive intense treatment in hopes that he can stay in the lineup, though the Braves seem to be expecting to use Wilson Betemit at third more over the next month of the season.

    Johnny Estrada looks to be headed for the DL, the result of continued problems with his lower back. Estrada was injured in an early June collision at the plate with Darin Erstad. Somehow, Erstad escaped suspension and the Braves are taking the brunt of the effects. The Braves will make the move by Tuesday, but have their medical staff hopping trying to do everything they can to avoid the list.

  • A couple years ago, Kevin Brown negotiated some private plane time to get from L.A. back to his Georgia home. He may have used his Marquis Card to get to Denver. Brown left the team to see one of his personal physicians, Yecheel Kleen, in hopes that his back could be “loosened up,” according to one team source. Brown puts a lot of pressure on his back during his delivery, twisting where most pitchers use their legs to gain leverage. Once again, the Yanks have a pitcher coming back as another one may be leaving. Carl Pavano worked a bullpen session of 50 pitches this weekend to prep for a rehab start on Tuesday. Assuming no setbacks, Pavano will be back in the New York rotation on Saturday. Pavano has been working out in Tampa with the rest of the Yankees rehab crew under the watchful eye of Mark Littlefield.
  • Two names that have come up in trade rumors and that are keys to Toronto’s 2005 are hurting. Vernon Wells had X-rays on his injured ankle come back negative. It’s unclear how long he’ll be out with the injury, though the team is expected to give some guidance later today. The Jays have been very good and very accurate with their press releases when it comes to injury time frames. Ted Lilly has been diagnosed with bicipital tendonitis, something that could have him heading to the DL. There’s little incentive for the Jays to do this immediately, hoping that rest and treatment could get him back before the 15 days, so if your fantasy roster needs some tweaking, now’s the time.
  • The Phillies will be watching the rehab of Jim Thome closely. Shifting back and forth from buyer to seller and back on a near minute-to-minute basis, Thome’s recovery will determine if Ryan Howard is on the block. Thome is heading to the Phillies’ Florida camp to continue rehab with a goal of heading to Triple-A later this week. The progress made to control the inflammation in his elbow is said to be “dramatic,” the same as the dropoff in Thome’s production.
  • Spiders may not be as scary as clowns, but they’re certainly a problem in baseball. There was the famous Glenallen Hill incident and now Jermaine Dye will miss some time with infected spider bites. Dye was forced to have some IV antibiotics after he began having a reaction to the bites, something that could have grown into a very serious problem. The White Sox aren’t quite sure how much time he’ll miss, though they certainly weren’t going to toss him into yesterday’s oppressive heat with any sort of health concerns.
  • Good news often can mean nothing. While Jason Jennings is glad that he won’t need surgery on the broken finger, the Rockies will find little solace. Jennings is still lost for the season and either way, he should be ready for spring training next season. The best news was that there was no tendon involvement in the injury, so Jennings should be able to return to his previous level when he gets back to the mound. While we can admire the hustle and grit of his baserunning, we can also hope that he’ll learn that his arm is too valuable to risk on a takeout slide.
  • It’s been a while since there was any new info on Jason Kubel. The once and future prospect is progressing to the point where he can run with a massive knee brace. The plan is still for him to play this fall, something I’d be reluctant to even suggest given how he was injured. Sources are conflicted about whether he’s taking batting practice or merely hitting off a tee, but either is a big step. No one has any idea if Kubel will ever be ready to resume his promising career. Only the advances in sports medicine even give him a glimmer of hope. When he comes back, expect a career path approximating that of Harold Baines or Edgar Martinez, though I hesitate to compare anyone to two elite hitters.
  • The Rangers, at least in the press, sound a bit disappointed that Laynce Nix is having surgery. Nix has been out for more than a week with shoulder problems that most recently resulted from a dive. However, the surgery is on the right shoulder, not the left one that was injured on that defensive play. The center fielder has previously had some problems in that same shoulder, and the risk of it going chronic are very high due to labrum problems. The Rangers hope to use David Dellucci in the outfield more, though Dellucci is himself pretty banged up at this stage. We’ll be sure to hear some rumors of Alfonso Soriano in the outfield with Ian Kinslerso close to the majors.

  • Quick Cuts: Congratulations to Lance Armstrong. 10/30 for me, Lance … Pokey Reese is done for the season after a setback in his rehab. His shoulder will be examined by Lewis Yocum this week … Travis Hafner is still feeling the effects of his beaning and could go on the DL retro … Brandon Webb has been pushed back due to illness. It’s unknown if he will be able to pitch on Tuesday or if his start will be skipped … Another Dodger down? Derek Thompson will have Tommy John surgery, his second … Matt Mantei underwent successful ankle surgery. He’s out for the season and it’s unknown if he’ll return to the Sox … We’ve always wondered who the “big fish” that the U.S. Attorney would be going after might be in the BALCO Case. I think ESPN’s Tom Farrey figures it out in this article … Josh Beckett came off the DL, looking both strong and efficient. Getting a ton of runs behind him helped … Dallas McPherson is making progress. His hip is well enough to allow him to take some BP in Arizona … Alex Sanchez is on the DL. I’ll let you make your own steroid snark here.

BP will be blanketing the trade deadline with coverage this week so look for lots of content here and on BP Radio.

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