My Sidekick is dying. After two years, it’s almost like a family member, but a mobile phone tied to the two-foot power cord due to a dead battery is hardly mobile at all. So my calls tonight were made standing at my bookcase here in the office, wondering if I’ll have to go to the darkside and buy a new phone. The Sidekick III is months away, I’m told, so this should be interesting. The Sidekick has really changed how I watch baseball and cover it, allowing me to check facts while sitting in the stands, to get messages from sources no matter where I am, and to never be out of touch by any communication vector. I’m open to suggestions–especially from Danger or T-Mobile–but to me, the Sidekick is the perfect baseball companion.
Powered by my new Nike A’s hat, on to the injuries:
- The more I hear about Eric Gagne, the more confused I become. The Dodgers’ spin on the surgery is perhaps predictably the most positive one: that the peripheral sensory nerve that was cut in the half-hour operation will necessitate a four- to six-week recovery before he returns as a still-dominant closer. Allowing that the nerve loss won’t affect his pitching motion–and I’ll agree that it wouldn’t seem to–I’m still not getting all the facts to add up here. Gagne had a neuroma (a benign tumor) on the nerve, and it was removed during the half-hour surgery. How did this just now start hurting? My best source says that Gagne only experienced the pain once he started throwing at 100%, something that only happened about two weeks ago. If we call this surgery a minor complication of last June’s elbow surgery, Gagne’s essentially at the same point as many people coming back from Tommy John surgery, without the nominal certainty those survivors have. He’ll need all of those four to six weeks to return, if only to build up arm strength; certainly not to recover from the surgery, which was minimally invasive. Was his reduced velocity in spring training the result of the pain from the neuroma? That’s less clear, much like Gagne’s future.
- The Braves’ depth will be tested over the next couple days as Chipper Jones and Marcus Giles were both injured during Sunday’s game. The game was played in damp conditions, but neither injury actually appears to have been affected by the turf, and in the case of Jones, the slippery surface may have actually prevented it from being worse. Jones’ play looked bad, as he collapsed to the ground with both a sprained knee and a severely sprained ankle as a secondary–but more serious–injury. The knee appears to be stable and the ankle is being treated in hopes of minimizing the swelling. He’ll have both injuries re-evaluated Monday, and the DL is a possibility. Giles aggravated a previous quad strain while running, and later removed himself from the game. He’s likely to miss a few days, unless the injury to Jones encourages him to take one for the team and fight through it.
- The Red Sox may be without Coco Crisp for up to a month. Reports from Boston’s WHDH state that Crisp’s “jammed finger” is actually a broken knuckle. This would obviously be a massive difference. Crisp was to be checked on Monday anyway, so more details should be coming. Broken fingers and hands heal on a predictable schedule, but often have lingering effects. For Crisp, his game is more about his legs than his power, so this should be a minimal change. For the team, a shift from Crisp to Canadian Idol Adam Stern could be significant. Watch for more info from the team tomorrow and in this space on Tuesday.
- The Cardinals are a team that, at least initially, looks to be one that will be carried as far as its stars can take it. Certainly Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, and the now-healthy Scott Rolen could take any team a long way, but beyond that, the team is both thin and vulnerable. After the off-season loss of Matt Morris, the responsibility for fronting the rotation falls more squarely on Chris Carpenter. He’s been worked hard over the past two seasons, but has been up to the task apart from the freak shoulder problem at the end of 2004. Carpenter is dealing with some mild back spasms after his last start. While he’s not going to miss time, it’s something to keep an eye on. All problems start small, and after being swept by a Cubs team with more questions than the Cards, the new stadium is going to be a nice distraction. (By the way, a friend inside the industry thinks that new Busch is going to play as a hitter’s park.)
- I may like a good spa massage now and again, but I haven’t made that full metrosexual leap to the manicure and pedicure side of things. It’s always seemed somewhat funny to me that some pitchers have to use press-on nails due to breaks in order to pitch (or, in some cases, to scuff or alter the ball). Kelvim Escobar threw the ball well in his first start, but will likely miss his next start due to a broken fingernail. He was effective against the Yankees even with the split nail, but this early in the season, the Angels can afford to skip him due to off days. It’s not a long-term concern.
- The Angels and their fans should definitely be more concerned about Francisco Rodriguez than Escobar. Escobar might be asked to shift out of the rotation if K-Rod were injured, either closing or slotting in where Scot Shields is pitching now. Rodriguez’s motion is degrading even further, and with the control problems he’s showing in the first week, red lights, red flags, and rocket’s red glare are all going off regarding the health and stability of his pitching elbow. Rodriguez is a similar case to that of Felix Hernandez in that they have great results and terrible mechanics. A team is smart to ride them hard and get what they can while building a backup plan behind them, as the Angels have done.
- “I stink right now.” It’s a great quote from Barry Bonds, and for once, it’s accurate. Bonds not only isn’t hitting homers, he’s looking bad while not hitting homers. Bonds has looked unstable at the plate, swinging with his arms and having much of the energy escape due to that unstable base. The swing hasn’t gotten worse later in games after he’s been standing in the field. It’s just consistently bad. Bonds had a bit of an episode on Sunday, dodging a pitch from John Smoltz and landing hard on his injured leg. Bonds stayed in the game, definitely a good sign, though he is clearly glad that Monday is an off-day for the Giants.
- The Yankees have an interesting problem. $200 million hasn’t bought depth, yet injuries haven’t had the impact one would think they would have on the team. With Carl Pavano and Aaron Small both working their way back with simulated games, and Octavio Dotel not far behind them, the team is seemingly headed for the opposite problem, one where figuring out the placement and roles of every player on the roster will be Joe Torre’s biggest problem. It’s unlikely to work out that way, as what depth the Yanks carry is often interchangeable: as one goes down, another comes back, or at least that’s the ‘plan,’ if you wish to call it that. A more interesting situation is the one with Johnny Damon. His shoulder continues to bother him, but he’s adjusted, knowing he “only has so many bullets in the gun,” echoing Jeff Bagwell. There are ways around this, most notably sending Derek Jeter or Robinson Cano deeper into the outfield for cutoffs. Unless Bernie Williams picks it up, the more interesting solution might be to give Damon some time at DH as needed.
- Quick Cuts: Carlos Zambrano admitted that his groin was bothering him during his last start. It’s something to watch, though treatment should keep this from being an issue … The Cubs are busy, signing Jim Hendry and then letting him give Derrek Lee his Konerko deal. Dusty Baker’s deal should come soon … The Royals have hinted that they expect Zack Greinke back in the ‘near future.’ Remember that Greinke will need at least a month to build up arm strength … Anyone else find this interview a little disturbing? … Ryan Klesko will have a Mumford procedure on his shoulder, the same one done on Trevor Hoffman and Jaret Wright in their time as Padres. Interesting that the surgery, while not unique, isn’t often done in baseball … Ron Belliard is expected back this week after missing a couple of games with a calf strain … Jorge Cantu should make it back from a severe bruise on his left foot … The Royals will be without David DeJesus for the better part of this week, if not more, after he strained his hamstring.
Be sure to check this week’s BP Radio out. We’re also working on getting audio up from BP’s Summit at the Yogi Berra Museum, as well as some new audio features during the week.