I got to spend Tuesday night with Aaron Schatz and Ned Macey from Pro Football Prospectus, as well as with a nice crowd of readers. As many of you know, I’m doing a column for the football guys this year, as well as contributing to their book, so it was nice to meet some of the crew as well as be part of the book signing. Getting together with readers is one of my favorite things about this job, as is meeting some of the great people around the game like Aaron and Ned.
Even at the signing, talking about the upcoming football season, we all had our eye on the big screen showing the Cubs/Astros game and my Sidekick buzzed a couple times, so I’m never far from baseball. That’s a good thing, one I’m savoring.
Powered by seeing Tara Reid and Steven Goldman connected in the press, on to the injuries …
- Scott Rolen saw Dr. Tim Kremchek last week in Cincinnati, and things don’t look so good. One of the options Rolen and the team were given was season-ending surgery on his shoulder, followed by the knee surgery that has been delayed. The shoulder condition has not gotten better, and the scoping that was done in May did not slow that regression. Rolen will need to have the labrum repaired at some point, and by doing it now, he’d be available for next season. If he tries to continue strengthening the area and making himself available for the playoffs, he could be out through a portion of next season. Lots of teams, including the Cards, are feeling a bit of pressure with injuries right now. This is due to the minor-league seasons drawing to a close, making rehab assignments impossible. Given the Cards’ big divisional lead, they could afford to let Rolen take some cuts at the major-league level if need be. Expect a decision by mid-week on surgery.
- As if the Mets didn’t have enough problems, they’ll now be without Mike Piazza for an indeterminate amount of time, though he will not yet go on the DL. Piazza broke the pisiform bone in his wrist when he was hit by a foul tip. Like Ivan Rodriguez, Piazza expects he’ll be able to play through the injury once the initial pain and swelling reduces. Because the pisiform actually is the connection point for many of the muscles that make it possible for the hand to grip things like a baseball bat, I’m unsure whether Piazza will lose much function.
The Mets will have Carlos Beltran, who elected not to have surgery yet on his broken cheekbone. Beltran also elected to not wear a lexan mask to protect the bone from further damage, instead just adding some padding to his batting helmets. He shouldn’t show any physical effects on the field. Mike Cameron, the other victim of last week’s collision, was released from the hospital in San Diego and is home with his family in New York.
- Speaking of Ivan Rodriguez, the Tigers are in a bit of a rough patch with Pudge over the last few weeks. Team sources say that Rodriguez has been stressed over the last month due to his connection to Rafael Palmeiro and that there’s been quite a bit of tension in the locker room. Rodriguez has missed the past couple games with a sore hip flexor that, contrary to some reports, is not connected in any way to his previous back problems. Rodriguez also has a sore groin, making squatting even more uncomfortable than normal. He’s expected back this weekend.
- Palmeiro has enough problems to deal with that an ankle sprain is going to seem minor in comparison. The first baseman says he sprained the ankle coming out of the batter’s box a few days ago, but watching the tape, I can’t see where it happened. I’ve already had e-mails asking me if steroids had anything to do with the injury (no) and whether this is some sort of smokescreen to keep him from being re-tested (again, no.) The injury came on quickly and is being treated, but given the other circumstances surrounding Palmeiro, I’m not sure how much anyone will push to get him back on the field, even knowing that the O’s need a lefty bat in their lineup.
- Everytime I’m about to write Barry Bonds off for the season, he keeps the door open just enough to keep me watching and waiting. Bonds is once again saying that he thinks he could return in September, assuming that his doctors give him clearance and that the Giants are still in playoff contention. Given Bonds’ medical secrecy and his time off, no one has any real idea what he’d be able to do. Frank Thomas, I think, gives us some idea. Unable to run, Thomas began depositing balls in the bleachers at an increased pace. I have to think that Bonds would be focused on not running and on his proximity to Babe Ruth. Then again, I’m not sure anyone would pitch to him, as they did Thomas. It’s still not likely that Bonds returns, just possible, so plan your kayak rentals accordingly.
- When Carlos Zambrano came out for the ninth at 105 pitches, I half expected to hear that Scott Boras was in the dugout with a machete and a bottle of paint thinner. Look, I understand why Zambrano was still in the game–and Ryan Dempster was warming up and came in once Zambrano walked a guy and lost his cool–but I don’t understand how this has been allowed to become the deathwatch that it’s become. We expect Dusty Baker to leave his pitchers out there and we make our standard proclamations about it. It’s simply not necessary, though, especially for a pitcher so key to the Cubs future. It’s fine to want to complete games. Is it that much harder to tell the pitchers that they’re free to complete all the games they want if they can stay under 100 pitches or so doing it?
As an aside, Milo Hamilton was asked during the ninth if pitchers of days gone by had a tantrum when they were pulled as Zambrano does. It’s an interesting question given the expectation by so many pitchers that complete games were what they did every time out. I’m sure my kind readers will answer the question that Hamilton sidestepped.
- The Cubs are hoping that Nomar Garciaparra won’t miss much time with a sore back. Garciaparra has had some on-and-off back problems, likely interrelated to his hamstring problems, much in the same way that Jose Reyes and others have had. This time, it was an awkward stretch he made to catch a throw that appears to be the culprit. Garciaparra will receive treatment for the back and is day-to-day for now, though this doesn’t appear to be serious.
- The Reds won’t be without Sean Casey for very long. In fact, he was able to pinch-hit on Wednesday. Casey injured his shoulder months ago rather than this week and, according to the team, has been playing with the sore, swollen shoulder for weeks. The symptoms, as described, don’t really match what Jerry Narron said in his presser, so I’m going to do some more digging on this one. The Reds will be getting Ryan Wagner back in the near future. Wagner’s finally throwing from a mound. Expect him to be used in low-pressure situations, not even sniffing saves.
- The Rangers can’t be happy to see Kevin Mench out of the lineup and the negotiating room. Mench is having some back spasms, something he’s dealt with in the past. The Rangers are going through an interesting time, bringing up guys like Justin Thompson, who’s made one of the more interesting comebacks in recent memory, and talking about prospects like Ian Kinsler and Edison Volquez making September appearances. Mench’s injury, depending on its severity, may factor into a lot of decisions, so watch this one closely.
- David Donatucci from the International Performance Institute in Florida uses the term “tissue issue” to describe the genetic component to injuries. Some people cannot hold up under the stresses and workloads put on them in the sport that they have the talent to play. In the case of Chris Snelling, it’s clear that there’s a tissue issue. Snelling is headed for his fifth surgery on his left knee after an MRI discovered torn cartilage in the knee. Snelling’s future is in question at this point, which is disappointing given his talent and the work he’s put in.
- The Yankees are looking at Kerry Wood and seeing a possible solution for their bullpen woes. No, Wood hasn’t cleared waivers; they’re thinking that Kevin Brown could come back to the type of role that Wood has been in for the Cubs. Brown is still a few weeks from throwing, but the doctors are starting to think that he could be back on the field sometime next week and a mound shortly after that. Mariano Rivera is having one of his regular down periods. Alex Belth and I talked about this last night and we’re trying to see how long these have lasted in the past and what types of things he did to get past them. In the meantime, the Yankees are hoping someone steps up in the pen.
- Quick Cuts: Hey, I like answering questions, whether you’re a subscriber, a parent, a newspaper guy or a blogger. Just do me one favor–if you post an answer of mine, would you send me a link when you’ve done so and let me know the question is for posting when you ask? Thanks … Garret Anderson visited a rheumatologist to see if his back problem is related to last season’s arthritis issue. More on this when available … Clint Barmes will start a rehab assignment Monday. No word on the deer hunting at Double-A Tulsa … Carlos Guillen was placed on the DL with swelling in his right knee. It’s said to be separate from his ACL repair. Sure … Have you kept Jeff Bagwell on your DL? You could be rewarded come September 1. He’s taking batting practice and could even play in the field some … Brady Clark is out with bruised ribs, but hasn’t yet gotten to the point where he can swing without pain. The Brewers placed him on the DL and called up Prince Fielder … Oliver Perez will be in Indy next week for a rehab assignment … Yadier Molina could be back in the Cards lineup by next week. He’s taking batting practice with the team.