September 1 is an important day on the medhead calendar. With roster expansion comes the effective loss of the Disabled List as a piece of information. Teams are still allowed to move players onto it, but because the key benefit of the DL–roster relief–is gone, teams cease doing so. The exceptions are moves designed to “hide” someone for the playoff run. Remember that a player on the DL can be replaced on a playoff roster; that’s the mechanism that the Angels popularized in 2002, sneaking Francisco Rodriguez onto their roster.
No DL makes my life more difficult. Is a player sitting because he’s hurt or because the hot prospect needs to get some playing time? Beyond that, we use DL days as a statistic of comparison and timing, information that gets lost in September (though the broad use of this tactic doesn’t put any team at a particular disadvantage in those calculations). This time of year is when my contacts come even more into play, since it’s much easier to sneak an injury by with the larger bench.
On the heels of my announcement from last week, I have another. Set your DVRs for “The Fantasy Show” this Thursday on ESPN2. I’ll be a small part of the first television show done by fantasy players for fantasy players. Yes, it’s football as well (at least to start!) but I know a lot of you are also football fans and/or fantasy football owners, as well as being generally the type of people I want watching my show.
Powered by my new Mighty Mouse, on to the injuries:
- Just as the Yankees were figuring out where Carl Pavano would fit in their rotation, he broke down again. It’s becoming clear that Pavano simply cannot stay healthy under a normal workload. Pavano injured his oblique during his last rehab start, putting his future in question. He’s the ultimate sunk cost at this stage, expensive enough that it’s hard to cut him. Pavano has now put himself into the discussion of “worst free-agent signing ever.”
The Yankees are also watching Jason Giambi more closely. He’s having trouble with dehydration, and that’s leading to cramping and weakness, though he looks good at the start of games. There’s no known cause, though there are legal supplements like creatine that have this type of symptomology. Expect Giambi to miss a couple games next week as they try to get him back to 100%.
- The Red Sox continue to struggle with injuries. Last season, they lost 552 days to injury, good for a whopping 12% of their payroll. This year, they’re already at 700 days and 14%, not the direction they were hoping to go. The latest injury is to Jon Lester, who was sent back to Boston for tests on his sore lower back. Lester has no history of this injury; early indications are that the problem is muscular, caused by fatigue over the course of the season eventually wearing on the small, often underdeveloped muscles of the lower back. Lester is below his career high for innings, a definite negative here.
In better news, Josh Beckett will make his next start despite the cut on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
- The Mets have enough of a lead not to worry much about late August problems. As the calendar turns, however, the problems they’re having holding together their rotation begin to look more worrisome. Orlando Hernandez was skipped in his scheduled turn in order to rest his “tired” shoulder, a smart move. The team also expects to get Tom Glavine back later this week. Glavine had a good bullpen session, reporting no problem with his hand during or after the workout. Glavine is most likely to slot in on Friday, though the rotation is in a bit of flux after Oliver Perez‘s addition and the expected call-ups.
- Brad Radke gets this season’s guts award. Maybe it should be called the “I can’t believe the guy’s doing this” award, but Radke knows that he’s got one shot left at the playoffs with what is the best Twins team since Jack Morris was in Radke’s position. Despite the need for painkillers, anti-inflammatories and cortisone shots, Radke is out there pitching through the pain of a torn labrum and what one Twins source called a “shredded” rotator cuff. Since the cuff is involved in decelerating the arm, the source tells me that it feels to Radke as if “his arm’s tearing off his body.” That he’s pitched well despite this is amazing.
The Twins hope to get Francisco Liriano back soon. He’ll throw from the mound later this week, which would indicate a return somewhere around ten days from that point. I’m optimistic, given what I’ve been told about his progress.
- Bobby Crosby doesn’t want to be called “injury prone.” I’d be happy to stop tagging him that way when he stops being injured. Crosby is back on the DL with continued back problems, something he believes is the result of poor flexibility. In a nice article by John Shea, Crosby states that he’ll move away from the weightlifting he’s done in the past in hopes that he can stay healthy. The A’s hope to have him back around mid-month, about the same time many think Rich Harden will be back. Harden continues to throw on the side, slowly extending his distances, but many are beginning to wonder if Harden’s slow progress will get him back in time to make any contribution. The A’s comfortable lead in the AL West gives the team time to be patient. Because they plan to use Harden in relief, they won’t need much time at the end of the season to assess him in that role. Huston Street will beat them both back, coming back from his groin strain in the minimum. He’ll be activated next Sunday.
- Scott Kazmir has an arm that is perhaps the most valuable in baseball. There are few other pitchers who mean the difference between winning and losing, between the ace and the #2, than Kazmir. If the Devil Rays are ever to escape the AL East cellar, keeping Kazmir healthy will be a big part of that. Given the position they are in, even the slightest pain or inflammation is reason to be cautious. They might be so cautious enough to shut Kazmir down for the season. The Devil Rays have had a great run of health over the past few seasons, so I’ll allow that they know best. Kazmir’s results speak for themselves, though his mechanics still remind people why the Mets were willing to deal him.
- The Dodgers dodged a bullet when Derek Lowe came away from a comebacker with nothing more than a bruise on his non-pitching hand. Lowe has been a solid #2 for the Dodgers, a big turnaround from last year’s disappointing results and off-field problems. Lowe’s hand is still swollen and painful, though he is expected to heal enough to make his next start. The Dodgers could be cautious, bringing someone up with roster expansion to push him back or even skip him if need be. In the longer term, this should be a non-issue for Lowe and the Dodgers rotation.
- Expect Derrek Lee back soon and healthy. Lee has been hitting for more than a week and is pressing to get back into the lineup. Lee has been “hitting angry” according to one Cubs source. There are probably leagues out there where Lee was dropped by people thinking he’d be out for the season. If so, grab him now. Lee is likely to take more of a leadership role, something his quiet demeanor and the presence of Dusty Baker has kept him from over his Cubs tenure. Expect the 2007 Cubs to be Lee’s team in many ways.
- I won’t pretend to understand the details behind the intestinal condition that has finally been found inside Chan Ho Park. Park literally almost died before the problem was discovered, then again when it began to bleed. Endoscopic surgery found a condition called Meckel’s diverticulum. A local gastroenterologist I was able to speak to–though he did not treat or see Park’s records–explained it to me. The bleeding was the result of tearing in a small pouch of tissue. I’m told that the recovery will be quick, along the lines of an endoscopic appendectomy. Park has made quick recoveries after transfusions while suffering from this condition. The surgery should have corrected the problem, but while it’s possible that he could return before the end of the season, it is unlikely that he will.
(For those wondering why I do not name medical sources, and why I insert the disclaimer about their not having treated the subject, thank HIPAA.)
- Mike Maroth will not get a start this week. His surgically repaired elbow is not yet ready, recovering slowly after his starts. Instead, the Tigers will go with Wilfredo Ledezma in a spot start. Maroth figures to be back soon, but the big news is that this series of events has led the Tigers to call up their first-round pick Andrew Miller. He’ll work out of the pen as a short lefty, controlling his innings while contributing to the team. Kevin Goldstein has more on Miller in today’s Future Shock.
- The Reds still aren’t sure why Eddie Guardado is having pain in his forearm. Several MRIs taken over a few days have shown nothing structural. Guardado isn’t a dominant closer, but he is one of the better links in the chain for the Reds pen. The worry is that not only are the Reds no closer to knowing a cause, Guardado is no closer to pitching. A side session went poorly, with Guardado telling John Fay that it was “the same old stuff.” Guardado will continue to test the arm in hopes that he can continue what was a successful if short run as the Reds closer when they need him most.
- Quick Cuts: Great article this weekend from Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post on the greenie ban … Nick Johnson and Jeff Francoeur had a nasty collision, but neither should miss time. Those are two big, strong guys … It looks as if Jeremy Reed will be shut down. While he could come back near the end of the season, there’s really no reason. He should be healthy for the 2007 season … Alex Escobar may need surgery to repair the right shoulder he injured on a slide. He’s done for the season … If the DL is done for the season, does that mean I know what team is going to win the Dick Martin Award? I know that there are about five teams with a chance. Two of them would stun you if you just looked at last year’s results.