Randy Johnson pitches the Yankees into first place. Barry Bonds puts a homer into the upper deck. The Cubs lose. Somehow, everything seemed right in the baseball world yesterday. The last six months of great and bizarre baseball seemed to be distilled in one night on which, as Joe Sheehan said yesterday, you could show someone a baseball game and make them a fan for life. Just imagine what we’re in for over the next ten days. Bucky Dent could revisit us as the Yanks and Sox go toe to toe. Bonds has a legitimate chance to catch Babe Ruth this season. We have a chance at having eight 20-game winners, which to me explains a lot about why home runs are down slightly. Baseball’s so good right now that it almost makes me want to hug Bob DuPuy. Almost.

Powered by thoughts and prayers called up again a bit too quickly for our friends and readers in Houston and on the Texas coast, on to the injuries …

  • To show you how serious the injury to Brian Roberts was, let’s consider that it was difficult for me to even get an answer to one simple question: how long did it take to get Roberts’ elbow reduced (popped back into place)? After exhausting every source I have, I still don’t have a definitive answer. The most likely scenario is that team physicians were able to reduce the injury once he got into the training room, but there are also sources that said the reduction was “incomplete”–that the damage was too extensive to get things back in. For anyone who’s ever had a dislocated finger, you’ll remember how painful it was until it reduced and then the pain went away. In the best-case scenario, Roberts dealt with that pain for at least half an hour.

    Pain aside, Roberts’ elbow failed under the excessive load placed on it by a streaking Bubba Crosby. Both tendons and ligaments failed, necessitating surgery to reattach the tendon and reconstruct the torn ligament (Tommy John surgery). Studies have shown that the tendons break at about 98 newtons, so the low end for the force exerted on Roberts’ extended elbow is almost 10 g’s. If you did that in a fighter plane, you’d have passed out.

    Roberts is expected to miss spring training. Compare this terrible injury, and Roberts’ expected recovery time, to that of Cesar Izturis, who is expected to miss a year. There’s info there we don’t know. There are no good comparables for this injury, so we’ll just wish Roberts and his doctor the best as he tries to come back and continue a promising career.

  • When I said “don’t panic” yesterday about Jeremy Bonderman, what I meant was “they’re going to shut him down.” Okay, not really. I got some misinformation from a source on this, but it does show that context is very important in assessing injury. Bonderman developed tendonitis in his elbow while working on a circle change, a pitch that uses a pronating motion that is unusual for some pitchers and can have a negative effect in the short term while a pitcher gets it down. (It’s a very safe pitch in the long term.) Where Bonderman is being shut down as a precaution, Mike Mussina is going to start on Thursday after being off a couple weeks with a very similar injury. I’d imagine that if the Tigers were fighting for the playoffs, Bonderman would be pitching as well. Add in that Bonderman won’t be overextended more than he has this year. Remember that he’s still just 22.
  • David Wells had a cortisone injection into his right knee on Tuesday hoping that it could break the inflammation cycle and give Wells a better base for his pitching. While the knee doesn’t affect his push or velocity, it is affecting his mechanics by altering his release point, which explains much of his recent wildness. Wells should have enough time for the shot to take effect, get his work in and make his next start. Don’t forget that Wells is rewarded handsomely for each start–$300,000 at this point–so he has plenty of incentive to get out there, healthy or not. Wells is two starts from making the maximum of $9 million from his incentive-laden contract.
  • It’s hardly the painful-to-watch injury that he had last season about this time, but Brad Penny still appears to have trouble with the end of seasons. Whether it’s fatigue, conditioning, overuse or something entirely different, Penny has once again hit something of a wall. That it’s something that doesn’t appear serious–this time a tight forearm–that’s forcing him out of starts is an underlying positive. Penny was able to return from his shoulder injury without incident this season. Remember, his injury was considered similar to Chris Carpenter‘s, also shut down at the end of last season with a nerve problem. Fantasy players, no one had one this year so don’t think the injury is a positive indicator you can use in next year’s draft.
  • Kameron Loe got lucky. If you made a list of players you didn’t want hitting a ball right back at you, Vladimir Guerrero would be near the top. Loe took the ball off the bill of his cap and it ricocheted in the air to Michael Young for the out. An inch either way and Loe might have been like Matt Clement on the upside or Bryce Florie on the downside. Loe left the game as a precaution but is expected to make his next start. I’ve spent the last two off-seasons working on books. This year, I’m going to be working on some equipment that could save pitchers like Loe from these types of injuries or at least reduce the effect.
  • Miguel Cabrera fouled a ball off his left kneecap during Wednesday’s loss. While he was able to complete the at-bat, Cabrera then left the game and had precautionary X-rays, which were negative. Cabrera has been extremely durable during his short but productive career, playing in 150 games already this season and never missing a start due to injury. Expect Cabrera to be back on the field quickly, if somewhat hobbled by a painful but not serious bruise.

  • Quick Cuts: Rich Harden will throw a simulated game on Friday after a positive mound session on Wednesday … The Cubs will make a “final” decision on Aramis Ramirez this weekend. At best, Ramirez will make a cameo appearance, so consider him done for the season … Jorge Piedra has left the Rockies for “family reasons.” While I don’t wish anyone a problem with their family, this one has strange timing and could be a cover for a trip to Washington … Eric Gagne is back with the Dodgers and playing catch. His recovery will be given as the reason for the Dodgers resurgence next year when it will in fact be an 800-day drop in their DL time … Brian Schneider re-injured his shoulder and is likely going to be shut down … Richie Sexson will play another game at DH to protect his knee and give him a shot at 40 HRs. Teams are talking openly about Toronto’s turf, the same substance used in Minnesota, much as they did about Montreal.

Thank you for reading

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