There’s something going on with some pitchers this spring. A number of pitchers, all Latin and normally all very good, have had poor velocity. Some played in the WBC, some didn’t. The group has no commonalities that I can find but from Carlos Zambrano to Esteban Loaiza, from Freddy Garcia to Orlando Hernandez, the velocity is simply down in a relatively consistent manner. There are a million possible explanations and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have the answer, but you might. The collective intelligence of my readers never ceases to astound me, so now that you have it in mind, give me your best info–facts, not theories. It could be something as simple as a league-wide calibration of radar guns, so let’s watch.
Powered by the inaugural issue of Total Texas Baseball in my mailbox today, on to the injuries:
- I was driving back from a radio gig outside Indianapolis when one of my Rockies sources called me yesterday. The phone broke up a bit and all I heard was “…terminal.” My heart sank as I asked, “What?” “Acute terminal ileitis,” he said. I felt better and luckily, so is Todd Helton. The questions now become:
- What the heck is acute terminal ileitis?
- What’s the prognosis now that we have a diagnosis?
Actually, the first thing I wondered was how “ileitis” is spelled, but I eventually figured that out. The condition is related to Crohn’s disease, the debilitating intestinal condition that many are all too familiar with, but ileitis is not chronic and is treatable. The condition can recur, especially if the incident is brought on by bacteria. It’s really minimizing this to say that Helton had a massive bellyache, but I’m sure he’s glad that this is all it is. He’ll be treated conservatively, managed over the next few weeks, and brought back to tolerance–these statements basically mean that Helton will come back slowly, but not too slowly. Now, if I could just get the images of the fecal bacteriotherapy and helminthic therapy out of my head…
- As expected, the Indians will have C.C. Sabathia throw a rehab outing at Triple-A Buffalo this week. If Sabathia remains healthy and at least reasonably effective, he’ll come back to Cleveland and go right back into the rotation. There’s no reason to think that Sabathia will have any problems. While oblique strains can be slow healers, they do tend to heal “clean.” If you’re near Buffalo and are watching, the key for Sabathia is his trunk rotation. The big guy has a lot of mass to move and those energy equations always have some mass in them.
- Rays ace Scott Kazmir came back from what was called cramping in his thumb only to find his control had cramped. Kazmir showed some signs of elbow discomfort in both of his last two starts, but trusted sources insist that nothing is happening with Kazmir’s elbow. Watch the control and the follow-through for signs that something more is happening here. There are few better medical staffs out there and the front office isn’t going to take chances with their best pitcher.
- The A’s had a bit of a scare when Milton Bradley jammed his right knee avoiding a pickoff. This is not the knee that had its patellar tendon repaired last fall, so there’s no lingering concern there. Bradley has always played very hard and therefore has a tendency to get dinged up here and there. This injury isn’t a significant concern, though he will bear watching to make sure that one small problem doesn’t contribute to a bigger compensation injury.
- Rather than get pushed back, John Patterson is going to miss a start due to a sore forearm. Forearms, you’ll probably recall, are often cast as cover for elbow injuries. In this case, Patterson’s dealing with a strained flexor muscle. The strain isn’t terribly serious if allowed to “cool down” with about a week of rest, so if Patterson missed another start after this one, I wouldn’t be too surprised. He’s not headed for the DL just yet, but the Nats may make that move if they feel they need the arm. Overall, this isn’t too serious an injury.
- Carl Crawford should know that by saying he wants to be the “most important fantasy player in history” that he’ll just get more attention when he’s out of the lineup. Crawford injured his shoulder diving last week and has been stop-start since then. The injury is more about the soreness and function than any underlying damage, so he’s been watched closely to make sure that he’s throwing and swinging well (rather than compensating in any way). The Devil Rays have been conservative with injury management over the last three years and the change in the medical staff and front office doesn’t appear to have shifted that philosophy.
- Cesar Izturis had what a source described as a “major setback” in his return from elbow surgery. The defensive whiz had a complex “Tommy John plus” surgery to repair longstanding damage inside his throwing elbow. Some are speculating that the setback, which comes on the heels of Izturis’ unhappiness with his impending role–utility player, including the OF–may have something to do with this. There’s no evidence to prove that, though. Giving Izturis some playing time in the OF is an odd plan, given that just after the surgery the team expected to shift him to second to keep the strain off his arm. We’ll know more once Izturis restarts his rehab, but won’t see him back in LA until June at the earliest.
- Forgive me for missing this one, but a Rockies closer can sit out for a week and not have it be an injury. I missed that Brian Fuentes has been out for that long with back spasms, a problem he has had before (though not recently). The Rockies don’t think this will be a problem long-term.
- Quick Cuts: Mark Hendrickson is back from the DL. He’ll start Thursday’s game … Chipper Jones looked healthy, crushing a homer … Seriously, can we not map out each major league park with lasers, GPS, and the rest of modern technology so that we can finally agree how far it flew? … The Pirates are convinced that Brad Eldred is done for the season, not that he was in the 2006 plan … Noah Lowry will have a rehab start this week, probably at Single-A San Jose … Reports that Roger Clemens and his agents are asking for the “largest per-year contract in history” are true according to multiple sources, though they are expected to pro-rate it … Just to prove I can say something nice about Frankie Rodriguez–he has looked darn good lately, pitching at nearly his normal velocity … Ian Kinsler is about three weeks away. Watch for him to start hitting this week … Just heard Pearl Jam’s new album for the first time tonight. They remain the Hideo Nomo of rock, never living up to the insanely good debut, but a good listen nonetheless (Hat tip to Jonah Keri for the comp) … Juan Rivera should come off the DL as scheduled next week. How he fits into the Angels lineup now is a whole other question … Yorvit Torrealba is nearing a rehab assignment … If Denny Bautista says he’s healthy and the Royals say he isn’t, where’s the Commissioner’s office on this one?