Usually at this point in the week, things are in focus. I know what the next BP Radio will look like and who the guests are likely to be. I have a grasp on how the week has gone with injuries, how the ebb and flow of the season is moving. Are players wearing down in the heat or are managers spotting guys out? Has there been a big run of injuries and is there any causation? I’ll spend my normal hours on the phone and plan for a nice, relaxing weekend, usually spent watching baseball and having a life. This week is different and this weekend will be very different. Both here and the Mill, I have a feeling things will get weird before they get better.

Powered by the sight of the Wrigley Field brick getting ready to go on my new house, on to the injuries:

  • Matt Clement left a Tampa hospital on Tuesday after getting a second CAT scan. He got the thumbs-up from doctors and is now back under the care of Jim Rowe and his staff. There’s no word yet on when Clement will be back, though surprisingly, no one has mentioned him missing his next start. This situation is very fluid; we’ll get some indication of Clement’s status by when he takes his next side session.

    Buster Olney had one of the best takes I’ve seen, something that was seconded by a player I spoke with today. Olney: “I was in Fenway Park the night Bryce Florie was hit in the face by a line drive, and if I remember correctly, the ball fell right near him; that’s when you knew he had absorbed the full impact of the blow. It was the same type of thing when Mike Piazza was hit in the head by Roger Clemens in 2000; the ball just sort of dropped in the vicinity, after nailing him in the temple at 92 mph. That’s when you really get scared for these guys.” The “close/far” rebound test is one I’d never heard before, but a good one to know.

  • Robert Henslee of KTRH, friend of BP, talked with Brandon Backe yesterday after his bullpen session. Backe was still feeling pain in his side, pain which was determined to be from an intracostal strain. It’s painful, but heals more cleanly and predictably than an oblique strain. Backe heads to the DL for the next couple weeks. The Astros’ wild-card run will have to be made with their three aces and a pair of rookies. Is that a full house or a dead man’s hand?
  • Ramon Hernandez has elected to have surgery on his wrist. A second opinion confirmed the diagnosis, some loose cartilage inside the wrist, and surgery will be performed as soon as it can be scheduled. There’s some chance that Hernandez could be back in September, making this a bit more palatable. Robert Fick‘s game winning blast also helps, though a catching tandem of two guys who shouldn’t be catching that much has to worry Pads fans. The Padres may also be without Chris Hammond. A pinched nerve is likely to send him to the DL.
  • The last time Cliff Floyd was in this column was late April. Even then, I was just noting that he was hitting and healthy. Floyd has had some problems–minor ones–with his surgically repaired Achilles tendon. When I saw Floyd play in Chicago this season, it didn’t look like he was moving freely. Of course, it was about 40 below that day with a stiff wind and no one was moving freely. Don’t fret too much about Floyd. The Mets know how to handle him and get the most from him by now.
  • The Yankees are patching their roster with Hideo Nomo in hopes that Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright will show up to save the season. That’s hardly a superhero movie script there, unless the Justice League has added Mediocre Guy and Overpaid Injury Man to their rolls. Pavano was able to pitch five innings in Tampa (GCL) and looked good, throwing with command and his normal low-90s velocity. There’s no word on the next step, though after making just 54 pitches, he’ll need at least one more rehab start to push the count higher.
  • The Blue Jays will be without both of their top pitchers, leaving them to rely on two rookies to take over the slot. David Bush is back, slotted into Roy Halladay‘s slot. Now, with Ted Lilly headed to the DL with shoulder impingement, the Jays will again go to their deep minor-league system for Dustin McGowan. McGowan was once considered the jewel of the system before Tommy John surgery. He’s now slightly behind some others, including Bush and Francisco Rosario, but he’s still an effective pitcher with upside. Lilly isn’t expected to miss more than the minimum, though impingement is a diagnosis given to extensions.
  • One reason that the Angels seem to be standing still while baseball is hurtling toward the deadline is what some GMs call the “internal acquisition.” Teams with injured players above the level that can be reasonably acquired seldom make deals to fill holes that can be filled internally. That means prospects sometimes, but for the Angels, it’s the return of injured players. Kelvim Escobar is making good progress coming back from elbow surgery and should be back sometime in September. It appears he’s a bit ahead of schedule, though pitchers often have a hard time actually “letting go” for a couple weeks, making his return to full effectiveness questionable. The Angels also think that Dallas McPherson will be back sometime in August. He’s about to begin workouts in Arizona, and should be ready for a rehab assignment about ten days after that.
  • The guy played all seven innings. In his first game back, the plan was to have Nomar Garciaparra get a couple at-bats, maybe stay in the field for five innings. Instead, he felt so good that he asked to stay in the whole game. Reports from the game indicate that he showed no signs of discomfort or hesitancy. He had his first step on grounders, came out of the box well, and ended up 1-for-4 with an RBI. Explosive? No, don’t expect Garciaparra to be mistaken for Chris Duffy. What’s better is when he returns to Chicago in a week, he might be mistaken for the old Nomar.
  • Some might look at the timing of the back injury Mark Kotsay is suffering with and wonder if he fought through it while negotiating a long-term deal. That’s unlikely, given that Kotsay’s back problems are a known quantity. An MRI taken this week showed that he’s dealing with the same problem that he had a couple years ago. That situation shelved him for a couple weeks. Knowing what it is should be half the battle and while it won’t halve the time off, let’s say 10 days as a likely scenario. For all the talk about Nick Swisher being able to play center field, he hasn’t done it this season.

  • Quick Cuts: Let me say this in the clearest of terms: no matter what deal the Angels make or don’t make, Darin Erstad will not be back in center field … Carlos Zambrano. Dusty Baker. Discuss … Josh Willingham isn’t making progress. His stress fracture is probably going to end his season, given that the minor leagues end on September 1 … Joe Blanton is running to keep weight off, thought the running is hurting his back. Something’s got to give … Rafael Soriano does have soreness in his shoulder, but the M’s are going to put him on track for a rehab stint anyway. This shouldn’t surprise anyone that’s been following the Mariners sad medhead history … It’s good to see Cliff Barmes running and taking grounders. It will still be at least a month before he’s swinging the bat again, making his return unlikely to be more than a cameo … Cole Hamels is having back problems severe enough to force a visit to a spine specialist. The Phillies still think he’s good enough to slot right into their rotation.

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