One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “Are there (more/fewer) injuries this year than there were last year?” The answer I give is twofold. First, it’s too early to tell. Injuries are almost like hits, in that they pile up over the course of a season. A player can be hot or cold for a stretch of time and still finish the year with good or bad numbers that are no real reflection on how the season actually went. Second, the answer is no, at least not significantly. Over the past ten years, injuries have been slowly creeping up due to several factors. The focus we have–on one team or on fantasy players–can often skew how we view baseball as a whole. Even with injuries, don’t be fooled by small sample size.

Powered by prayers for my friend’s cats, on to the injuries:

  • Gary Sheffield returned to the lineup, but had a night that makes it tough to judge whether he’s fully back. He seemed a bit hesitant at the plate, perhaps just more patient. It’s going to take several more games before we have any idea how the wrist is affecting him. This is one where I’ll have to rely on those who see him; Sheffield’s swing is difficult enough to break down without the added complication. I’ll admit I continue to be baffled by Johnny Damon and his toe injury. The Yankees continue to decline comment on the specifics of the injury while Damon keeps talking about it. I don’t know what he’s referring to when he says he broke a bone under his big toe, but maybe he could point to it in that picture. My best sources continue to say that Damon has a small stress reaction near his toe in the first metatarsal. About the only thing I can get everyone to agree on is that they think Damon should be able to play through it if the pain is managed and the injury watched closely.

  • As the Cubs now move their attention to Mark Prior and his lack of velocity, Kerry Wood was able to go out and throw his scheduled start. The velocity and stuff was there, but the control was a bit off. This isn’t something we can really conclude anything from; with no reports of other problems, there are only things to watch for. It’s common in a rehab, especially one involving mechanical changes, to see a cascade problem–shoulder rehabs put stresses on backs and elbows, elbow rehabs put stress on forearms and shoulders, and so on. Elbow problems are heralded by loss of control, though nothing in the start indicates that.

  • Color me impressed. Jim Leyland apparently read up on pitcher workload. The plan he put forth for keeping Justin Verlander fresh sounds good. At 130 innings last year, we’d expect Verlander to hit a wall at about 160 innings and be a significant risk at 190. At 60 already this season, he’s going to beat that handily. Finding the balance between keeping him healthy and getting the most value to the team is going to be much tougher than it was with Jeremy Bonderman. This team is winning. On the other side of the equation, Dmitri Young is back on the DL. Young’s quad continues to be such a problem that he can’t get any leverage at the plate.

  • The Giants send Tim Worrell to the DL to heal a pinched nerve rather than continuing to try and manage the problem. Worrell was able to pitch with the injury, but needed significant help with the pain the following day. Ineffective in his last couple outings, the Giants elected to send him to a neurologist who recommended the time off. It’s unclear who will get the saves now, though the team has to be kicking itself at the success of Tyler Walker, now with the Rays. The team is also watching Moises Alou closely. The OF not only is stalled in his rehab for the ankle, he’s also not seeing any improvement in his injured thumb. Alou’s ankle will probably hold him out at least another ten days. Watch for Alou to run during drills–once he’s able to do that, he’s very close.

  • Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post had a nice article detailing the opportunity cost of John Patterson‘s injury. Patterson is progressing slowly during his rehab and mention of him working on his mechanics during long toss is particularly curious. Long toss, unless watched closely, has a tendency to alter mechanics and isn’t the place where one would normally work on this. Long toss is for strength and stamina, not fine adjustment. Patterson says he’s still on track for an early June return, though there’s more and more likelihood that he’ll need at least one rehab start, pushing his return back a bit.

  • I hadn’t noticed that Agustin Montero had been on the White Sox major league roster until he was sent down yesterday. There are a couple interesting things here. First, there doesn’t appear to have been any lasting penalty to his steroid suspension. Even the psychic cost isn’t there since he made the major leagues. On the other hand, Montero made it in the year he was clean, proving that perhaps he didn’t need them. Players are getting around the rules through a number of methods and loopholes, but we have to quit glamorizing steroids. In baseball, there is simply no proof that they are effective.

  • Quick Cuts: Don’t expect Jorge Posada behind the plate for Wednesday’s game. He has both a swollen knee and a Big Unit on the mound … Jorge Cantu remains a man without a return date. He’s not running yet and isn’t likely to come back as a DH only … Why is Jason Bay locked in? He found out he’d been traded to my fantasy team, the Betamax Guillotine, of course … Ian Kinsler has a couple more days at Triple-A before coming back to the Rangers … Check Sacramento’s schedule. Rich Harden should get a start for them sometime next week … It’s more suited for the Black and Blue Report, but SI has a nice series of pictures, including this one with nice pronation on release following Carson Palmer through his rehab. Brutal … When Zack Greinke makes his next major league pitch, I will stand and cheer for him and for every person that gets the help they need. The EAP programs run by each team are unsung heroes of the game.
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