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It’s good to know that MLB can buy off its conscience. With a million-dollar donation to a foundation with no background in anything, let alone fighting steroids, MLB feels like it’s done something.

We all saw Don Hooton lay his son’s death on the table as evidence of a steroid problem in society. While I don’t wish to question the tragedy that is any child’s death, there are many questions surrounding Hooton’s son’s death and the events preceding it. Don Hooton has, on at least three occasions, avoided debating people that had questions for him on his public statements. Check in hand, Hooton and his foundation should know that I’m watching more closely than ever now. I hope I’m wrong and that this turns out to be money well spent.

There are other, more established programs set up by qualified scientists with years of experience in steroid education and while I have questions and concerns about even those, it would make more sense to put money into those. Perhaps MLB could have made a donation to WADA, helped fund more research at the UCLA labs that helped find and identify THG, or–gasp!–get the message out themselves during their telecasts.

Bud Selig made occasion of the donation to register his “disappointment” with the lack of response to his 50/100/Life suggestion on penalties for steroid usage. While it’s not yet clear whether the current system is working, no one is really sure what the longer-term effects of the Rafael Palmeiro positive will be. Will the ridicule he’s taking prevent other players or will they think that they’re more like Juan Rincon or Alex Sanchez? Selig certainly hasn’t stopped the rumors; last week’s rumor control only served to feed, not stop, the continued stream of whispers and innuendo. There are reporters covering this story, talking to sources, digging for information and when it comes out, it will. I’ll say this again: the only standard for me is a positive test or admission of use. Absent that, I won’t discuss it in this space. A trade rumor is one thing; potential libel is entirely another.

Powered by the fantasy baseball trading deadline, on to the injuries:

  • Matthew Leach has the situation on Scott Rolen broken down so well, I don’t really have much to add here. I’m told that Tony La Russa had a long, rambling monologue for the press that served only to confuse. The facts are that Rolen has not “torn a muscle away.” He’s got a torn labrum and the scope done in the spring didn’t fix it. He’ll need an open repair along the lines of the one that kept Mark Ellis out all of 2004. He’ll be able to return in about six months, meaning that the timing of the surgery has to take not only the postseason into account, but next season as well. Trading time in the following season for a ring now–flags fly forever–can work, as it did with Curt Schilling. It can also go wrong, not providing any return. Rolen’s decision is a hard one. He wants to help his team, especially given their excellent chance of heading back to the World Series. I’d expect him to opt for surgery, leaving the team to hope Abraham Nunez stays hot or to look for someone to fill the slot off the trade market, something Walt Jocketty has done well on a number of occasions in the past. Edgardo Alfonzo cleared waivers, didn’t he?
  • In the latest in a series of comebacker injuries, Tim Wakefield came out lucky. The ball came shooting off his planted push off leg. Wakefield’s slow, balanced knuckler delivery may have saved him; there wasn’t much force coming forward. X-rays were negative and Wakefield’s next start depends on his response to treatment. If the swelling and pain is controlled, he’ll be able to go. His repetoire will allow him to slot in pretty much anywhere. The Sox will likely use Jon Papelbon to fill the gap and hope Wade Miller can slot back in as soon as he’s eligible.
  • Moises Alou is due to come off the DL Friday, having healed up a hamstring that had been problematic for the better part of two months. It’s only coincidental that Alou might have to push over to the much larger right field in SBC Park in a couple weeks. Giants sources indicate that a deal with the Astros is not going to happen and that Alou is going to finish the season with the Giants. Expect Alou to be lifted defensively late and to get additional rest when possible.
  • This one was almost one for the Hall of Lame. Ron Belliard ended up colliding with the second-base umpire. Both men sprawled to the grass and stayed down, reminiscent of the scene with Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron. This wasn’t so serious and Belliard left the game for precautionary X-rays. The early word was a strained neck, and Belliard is expected to be back in the lineup Friday. It was a very odd play with something of a happy ending, at least. By the way, the umpire was fine, staying in the game despite an obvious limp.
  • I still don’t have a good handle on exactly what was done with Tim Spooneybarger. Initial reports were that he had a re-do on his Tommy John surgery, but after digging, it looks like he had surgery to repair a muscle near that site rather than the ligament itself. Spooneybarger is a reminder that even Tommy John surgery isn’t foolproof, but even after missing time as he has, there are some precedents for a comeback. I’ll have more on a possible timeframe as soon as I understand what the surgery was and what it was intended to fix.

  • Quick Cuts: Patience, Toronto. Roy Halladay has been pushed back at least one more start as he has continued problems with fielding … Chien-Ming Wang is making good progress, looking good in a long-toss session. He could make a rehab start early next week. The Yankees won’t be too conservative with him … Ryan Freel had surgery to clean up cartilage damage. He’ll be back for next season … Johnny Estrada won’t be ready by Sunday. The Braves may not get him back until September 1. Watch to see if they send him to Richmond for some swings …