OK, who will win the “DHL Presents the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Year Award”? It would help if I knew what a “delivery man” is, besides the guy who brings me my stuff from eBay. Apparently, this award goes to a reliever who has had a terrific season and finds himself chosen by MLB’s “yellow-ribbon” panel that includes Dennis Eckersley, Darryl Hamilton and Jerome Holtzman. Something tells me WXRL isn’t part of the criteria …

This looks a lot like the old Rolaids Relief Award done up in confusing corporate garb. It’s easy to make fun of corporate doublespeak in press releases, but does baseball really need something like this, or the ubiquitous Bon Jovi ads on their Web site, when some great baseball and nail-biting races are happening on the field?

In steroid news, Congress is looking at Rafael Palmeiro. This AP piece gives an interesting new piece of information: Jorge Piedra is a training partner of Palmeiro and another player popped under the new testing policy. Jose Canseco is also thought to be on the list of current and former players who will be interviewed. It will be interesting to see if more of Palmeiro’s training partners are named in the coming days as leaks come fast and furious.

Powered by the new John Mayer Trio songs, available on iTunes, on to the injuries …

  • The A’s, as expected, got Bobby Crosby back into their lineup as soon as was medically possible. Crosby, coming back from a fractured ankle, had passed all the tests physically and now has to get his swing and his feel back on the fly. Given what he was able to do and how he returned after his last, unrelated stint on the DL, I’d expect good things, though there are some differences. Fractures to the leg seldom have any proprioception problems, leaving that concern out. Crosby, however, may be limited by pain, though all reports on his healing have been extremely positive.

    To take the buzz off, the A’s finally admitted that Rich Harden will not start for the rest of the year, though they hope he will be able to come out of the bullpen. Ken Macha specifically noted the usage of Kelvim Escobar by the Angels as a comparison for how he hopes to use Harden. I’m not convinced that Harden will make it back in time to contribute in the regular season, but as the games dwindle, the value of using Harden at less than full strength will change.

    Finally, Bobby Kielty should be back later this week, giving the A’s as much flexibility as possible.

  • Several questions came to me regarding the fact that Sean Casey is working on his third concussion in recent memory. Many feel that concussions and their effects are cumulative. This is more a problem in collision sports, especially hockey, but the recurrence does force the Reds to be a bit more conservative than they would otherwise. Concussions are among the least understood and most dangerous injuries. In baseball, these are thankfully uncommon. Use of accelerometers embedded in helmets is already happening in football and hockey to monitor the occurrence and severity of concussions. Maybe it’s time to install some in batting helmets.
  • The Astros know that Morgan Ensberg isn’t 100%, but the little offense they have has been so much Ensberg–nearly a win better than any other hitter on the team–that anything he can give them as they fight for the wild card is needed. Ensberg was able to pinch hit on Sunday and returned to the lineup on Monday. As with all hand injuries, Ensberg is likely to take a hit on his power numbers, making a run at 40 homers unlikely. The jump from 10 homers to 35 is still pretty impressive.
  • Anyone that saw David Wells pitch last time out wondered what was wrong. The answer appears to be at least partially a knee problem. Wells told reporters that he was having a hard time pushing off, which points to a cartilage problem. The pitcher is expected to have a cortisone injection once the knee calms down and should make his next start, though it’s possible that if the injection doesn’t come in the next 48 hours that he might have to be pushed back.

    The Sox will also be without Kevin Youkilis for about a week after discovering that he has a fractured finger. Youkilis could be used as a pinch-hitter in just days. His absence does give Hanley Ramirez a chance to introduce himself to the Fenway faithful.

  • The Yankees have slowly creeped up on the Red Sox, and find themselves sitting just a half-game back. It would help if Mike Mussina could get a couple starts, and after a good bullpen session on Monday, it looks like he’ll get at least one. Mussina made it through the session without incident, throwing all his pitches with “decent stuff,” according to one observer. It’s difficult to judge whether a weakened Mussina–and even healthy, he’s not the pitcher he once was–is better than Aaron Small or Shawn Chacon. That’s why Joe Torre and Mel Stottlemyre get the big bucks; it’s not a decision I’d want on my shoulders.

  • Quick Cuts: A small correction: as every lawyer and law student in the western world pointed out, Barry Bonds did not “admit” using steroids. He admitted using a “clear substance” and a “cream for arthritis.” It’s semantics, but worth pointing out … Jason Kubel has been cleared to take part in Instructional League. There are still significant restrictions, though this is a major step. We’ll have a much clearer picture on where Kubel will be next season and how he’s recovered from the devastating knee injury from nearly a year ago … Orlando Hudson is taking grounders in pre-game, but is at least a week away from returning, if it happens at all this season … David DeJesus is done for the season. There’s certainly no reason for him to rush back.

It’s Monday night as I write this and I already know pretty much the whole lineup for BP Radio this weekend. You know what that means–something big is going to happen and screw up the whole plan! With all these teams in the race, anything can happen.

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