My weekend in Cleveland was a world-class experience. We were under rainy skies on Friday, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the overflow crowd inside the Indians front office. Joined by AGM Chris Antonetti, advance scout Neil Huntington, Asst. Director of Baseball Ops Mike Chernoff, Baseball Ops Coordinator Kyle Stark, and the creator of DiamondView Matt Tagliaferri, we had a successful feed. Seeing C.C. Sabathia dominate the Pirates was the icing on the cake. I stuck around for Sunday’s game, getting a look behind the scenes from the suite level. Cleveland is a first-class organization with a developing team and one of the few teams that makes the word “organization” seem appropriate. I can’t wait for next year.
Powered by something involving ice cream, on to the injuries:
- Some medical staffs go deep these days. Beyond the “normal” two trainers and team physician, now there’s usually a backup third trainer, a physical therapist, and a team of specialists and surgeons. Add in the occasional chiropractor, massage therapist and strength coach, and the staff gets sizeable. The Yankees need all that and more for all the injuries they have right now. Carl Pavano might be getting all the press, but his loss hurts less since he’s been gone so long. Pavano’s elbow “locked” during his rehab assignment. An MRI showed bone chips, so surgery was necessary. This is the best case of the various bad scenarios and gives Yankee fans the surgery they need to feel like Pavano’s been gone for a reason. Other pitchers have been back in as little as six weeks from this; by now, Pavano can’t be classified as a quick healer. Jorge Posada is still feeling the effects of getting run down at the plate. His back has been having intermittent spasms, preventing him from even DHing. The DL isn’t a probability now, though the timing of his missed games was awful. The outfield situation became even messier when Bubba Crosby strained his hamstring. He’ll be out the minimum while the team hopes that Gary Sheffield‘s rehab assignment will be a short one. If he hits at Trenton, it could be one and done. Bernie Williams was unavailable as well, due to “tight buttocks.” OK, moving on… Shawn Chacon was finally put on the DL due to the severe bruise underneath his knee. He’ll miss the minimum with Aaron Small taking his spot in the rotation.
Now that we’re finally done with the Yankees, let’s get to the rest of the injuries:
- So now the party line is that Felix Hernandez is overstriding. Hernandez got the win, but Lookout Landing does a fine job showing why this adjustment wasn’t much of an improvement. I took a look at video on Hernandez and don’t see his stride as the problem. His balance–key on the head–is still abysmal and his delivery is inconsistent, leading to less movement on his fastball. Right now, Hernandez is a mess, but he’s a healthy and ineffective mess. That’s not what the Mariners were expecting.
- The Cubs waited a long time for Kerry Wood and he’s already sore again. Wood insists this is normal post-start soreness exacerbated by the fact that he’s still working himself into shape, but the team panicked and held him out of a side session. A decision will be made on Monday if his scheduled Tuesday start will be pushed back. I don’t belive this is serious or that Wood will miss his start. Mark Prior, on the other hand, is more worrisome. He’s still missing his normal velocity in Arizona, making some wonder how an illness could continue to sap his strength. A shoulder injury would be an easier explanation, though sources with the team continue to insist there’s no structural problem. All this–plus the farming of Rich Hill–means that the return of Glendon Rusch is at hand. Rusch is a nice lefty to have around as a multipurpose pitcher, but he’s not the guy you want to be a better option than three or four of your “top prospects.” Rusch is the latest example of small sample size biting the Cubs. He was terrible in the rotation at the start of the year, but once he got a couple decent outings in the pen, the Cubs began seeing him as a viable option in the rotation again.
- The Red Sox inch closer to getting their outfield back to where they want it. Coco Crisp is scheduled to take batting practice on Monday and could be a few days away from a rehab assignment. Crisp has had some setbacks in his rehab unrelated to the finger, so once his stamina is back, he should come pretty quickly. I expect him back in the lineup before May ends. The Red Sox also should get Gabe Kapler back after rehabbing a torn Achilles. Kapler is a good spare part, but if he loses anything from the injury, he’ll be less valuable and his popularity and history with the team could quickly become a negative. The Red Sox will get a long look at him at Pawtucket, where David Wells ran his mouth and made it through his rehab outing. Wells had no problem with either his knee or the opposition at Triple-A, and should replace Lenny DiNardo in the rotation next time around.
- The Twins have sent Shannon Stewart to a specialist for his foot problems, raising the specter of the plantar fasciitis that plagued him in 2004. Describing the injury as feeling like “someone shot me” doesn’t sound good for Stewart. It’s interesting that the Twins finally get the funding for their outdoor stadium at the same time that their turf exacerbates an injury. Several of the current Twins, especially Joe Mauer, would benefit from grass, though only Mauer expects to be around for the 2010 opening. Stewart has been playing with the injury all year, meaning that he could continue to play. The Twins have the outfield depth to give him extra time off or even a DL trip to let him rest if it is only a bruise.
- The injury looked much worse than it turned out to be, a recurring theme among ankle injuries. Brian McCann might even avoid the DL after the intial viewing of the collision with Eric Byrnes looked like a season-ender. McCann has a lateral sprain of the left ankle and is not expected to go on the DL. Being the left ankle, it’s not where he puts most of the pressure for throwing, though the squatting may mean he’ll be bothered by it. The Braves brought up Brayan Pena to back up Todd Pratt. Expect McCann to miss about a week and come back slowly, giving more time to Pratt over the next couple weeks.
- As good as Anthony Reyes looked in his weekend start, the Cardinals are going to bring Sidney Ponson back for his next start. A simulated game on Monday is his last hurdle. Some reports have him coming back after one more turn in the rotation, meaning that the Cards are likely to use the off-day to go with a four man this week, working Ponson back in quickly. It’s a bit of a strange schedule, though in and of itself, it’s not a red flag. Ponson should have no problem with the strained muscle near his elbow once he’s able to return. He will, however, continue to be Sidney Ponson.
- Matt Lawton was DFA’d by the Mariners at his request this weekend. While the transaction will be covered elsewhere, the move and one coming behind it fall squarely in my domain. Lawton was suspended for use of the anabolic steroid equipoise near the end of last season, one of several major leaguers busted under last year’s policy. Lawton not only found a team willing to take on his ten-game suspension, he’s now moving on to another suitor. Many are speculating that it’s the Yankees. With Lawton and others finding jobs, it’s clear that Rafael Palmeiro is being treated differently. He’s taking the brunt of the punishment (non-Bonds category) for a perception of lying, not the actual positive test. Lawton is one of only a few who have admitted use instead of offering some lame excuse. There is a double-standard here; it might be passable to let a mid-level or below player test positive while a star will be pilloried in the public square.
- Quick Cuts: Troy Glaus left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. More info tomorrow … Jose Contreras showed no problems with his back in Sunday’s return from the DL. One more and we can forget this ever happened … I won’t pretend to have anything to do with Chris Coste getting a call up after ranting about it last week. I will cheer when he plays … Bartolo Colon threw well in a side session, putting him on track to make a rehab start next week …The Braves are on the lookout for a closer, as they have been since the end of last season. Thwarted so far in their quest for a Dan Wheeler or Scott Williamson, they’re looking to the minors. Someone like Nate Field, Lee Grontkiewicz, or David Shafer could be an easier get … Aaron Boone missed Saturday’s game after leaving Friday with back spasms. It’s not considered serious. Boone is a placeholder now, while Andy Marte tries to stop pressing his way to the bigs.