I haven’t gone and auctioned my loyalties off on eBay yet, but writing has made me more a fan of the game rather than of one specific team or player. Part of that is fantasy baseball, where “my guy” doesn’t necessarily play for “my team” and part is simple exposure. I’m always intrigued when I do radio and hear people in Indianapolis ask about the Giants instead of the Cubs or Reds, or hear someone in Vancouver ask about the Marlins or Yankees. OK, the Yankees are pretty universal, love or hate. I still hear people with strong loyalties missing a lot of great baseball because of what Jerry Seinfeld called “rooting for laundry.” I hope the emotion never comes out of the game, though I’d like to see a lot more smarts.

Powered by my new Giant Revive bike, on to the injuries:

  • The BALCO investigation got a little strange yesterday as Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams were threatened with jail unless they divulged a source. Since much of my work–both here and in “The Juice“–is based on my ability to keep sources anonymous, I support the stance of Fainaru-Wada and Williams. The question should not be if these reporters did anything wrong, but who in the government was leaking the information. (And yes, I’m aware that the government thinks the leak was from Victor Conte. Conte ran most of his leaks through another reporter.) Without a doubt, if I’d received the same information that they did, I would have run it. Given their hard work, credibility on the subject, and exhaustive research, that they would face longer prison sentences than Victor Conte is a mockery. Across the country, Congress noticed a provision that would allow the Union to scrap the drug testing agreement in the case that there is a year (2007) played without a deal. There’s not really much meat on this old bone, though Rep. Tom Davis came across as very sensible in his watchdogging of baseball. Perhaps Davis is campaigning not for his 2006 Congressional seat, but for the one Bud Selig is sitting in now.

  • Milwaukee fans are panicking now that Ben Sheets is back on the DL. Tendinitis often happens when a pitcher changes his mechanics, using different muscles in different ways. It’s a common occurrence in Tommy John rehab, so this isn’t that much of a surprise. Sheets is essentially relearning his motion using less of his injured lat and more of his other muscles. Again, the Brewers are being exceptionally cautious with Sheets, knowing he’s their key to winning not just now, but down the line.

  • The Yanks got good news and bad news on Tuesday. At least the bad news was expected as Gary Sheffield headed to the DL with a hand/wrist injury. It’s a retro move complicated by Sheffield’s refusal to take a cortisone injection. Assuming that Sheffield is willing to participate in the rest of the normal rehab, we’d expect him back near the minimum.

    The good news was that Carl Pavano is finally starting to throw in games. He’ll make one start at Double-A and likely another one elsewhere in the system, though some are saying that Pavano may only get one rehab start. He’s been healthy so seldom that “wasting” a start on the minors is arguably counterproductive.

  • Lots of pitching injury updates around the league, so let’s fire through them. First, we have Sidney Ponson hitting the DL–as expected–with an elbow strain. He’ll be out about a month and replaced by Tyler Johnson rather than Adam Wainwright or Anthony Reyes, as I speculated. Jose Contreras goes to the DL with a pinched nerve in his leg. I’m a bit skeptical of this public diagnosis due to the reported back pain, so I’ll reserve the guesses on how long he’ll be out for now. A.J. Burnett is starting to throw, which is a positive sign. Until he starts tuning it up, we won’t know if he’ll be able to get past his barriers and return to the Jays rotation. It will be about a week before that should happen. Mark Prior threw BP and is going to throw a simulated game next. That puts his ETA around June 1. Finally, John Patterson made the trip down to Birmingham to see Dr. Andrews. He came out with an injection to help his elbow, and he also has a new timetable. He’ll be out at least another week, though he should begin throwing later this week.

  • The Angels pushed Casey Kotchman to the DL just days after the young 1B admitted he was struggling with mononucleosis. Kotchman’s results have certainly been bad and the admission is likely the result of him being confronted on his performance, which has obviously hurt the team (just look at his VORP of -11.8). Mono lingers, so predicting how Kotchman will fare trying to play with the condition is impossible. The best way to handle this would be to have a close relationship with the manager and trainer, allowing them to get a good handle on his day-to-day energy level in order to play him when he has the best chance to succeed. Hiding the condition from the team doesn’t build that kind of trust, making his chances for success this season much lower.

  • The Orioles are hoping to get Brian Roberts back in the lineup as soon as he’s healthy. That won’t be Monday, the first day he’s eligible to come back from the DL. Roberts isn’t running yet and the possibility of recurrence is something that the O’s are taking seriously. Roberts’ amazing comeback from his devastating arm injury last season has been derailed slightly by this non-associated situation. Expect at least three to five days additional time on the DL for the O’s 2B.

  • The Pirates are starting to suggest that Sean Casey could begin moving towards a return sometime soon. Casey, out with fractures in his lower spine since mid-April, has been doing “light activities” for the past few weeks, trying to regain some conditioning. There are no clues yet how long Casey’s rehab might be or what the effect would be once he returns. There are no direct comps for this injury in my database, so Casey is blazing a trail on this one. It bears watching, though the Pirates don’t need to rush anything this season.

  • When I don’t talk about an injury, it’s either because I don’t have anything on it besides what is broadly reported or I don’t think it’s a significant enough injury to be pertinent by the time you read this. People miss days here and there, especially catchers. I’ve ignored Brian Schneider, hearing from sources that the hamstring strain he suffered was minor and that he’d be back the next day. Except it was always one more day. Until now. It looks like Schneider is now really on track for a return and that the “so mild it shouldn’t have been a problem” strain won’t be a problem down the line.

  • Sometimes, quirks can help. Chris Burke–thought to be lost for a long time after dislocating his shoulder–may not miss much over the minimum. Burke has had problems with the shoulder before, dislocating it “at least once” in college. Dislocations are horrendously painful, so saying he doesn’t remember seems a bit wonky to me. Still, those previous injuries and their induction of laxity into his joint that saved Burke’s season. This episode continues to make him more and more likely to have recurrences, but the damaged structure didn’t take more trauma. This one could change again depending on how he responds to rehab, but the Astros’ depth breathed a big sigh of relief.

  • Quick Cuts: Derrek Lee got his cast off. He’s just slightly ahead of schedule … Cristian Guzman is done for the season after labrum surgery. He’s expected back in time for spring training … 95 pitch complete game for Jason Schmidt. Very nice outing. Keeping the pitch count low is easy to do against a team with no patience … Chalk up another hamstring injury for the Pirates. Jack Wilson is the latest, out of the lineup until at least Friday … If Jeremy Brown becomes a star playing in Oakland (where the Haas family used to own the team), how can he help but endorse a jeans company? … Brian Bannister is expected back on the mound for the Mets on May 19th … Chris Snelling starts a short rehab assignment in Triple-A Tacoma … Ian Kinsler could be back as early as Monday of next week. His rehab is going well … Interleague is starting already? Seems early this year, like Mardi Gras … Let’s look into the crystal ball. I see a schedule. I see a May 19th interleague game. I see a future Hall of Famer deciding where to play. Or not.
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