If anyone really wants to know the answer, it’s not a million. It’s 328, though all 328 got the same answer from me when they e-mailed. “1,000,001,” I said. No one cares about an intro today. There’s only one story out there, so we’ll skip the formalities.
Powered by a downloaded “Pirates of the Caribbean 2” that will make for a nice movie on the flight home, on to the injuries…
- Pop. That’s the sound that so many hitters heard, the ball landing in the catcher’s mitt after flying past their bats. Pop. That’s the sound that Francisco Liriano heard in his elbow. Pop. That’s the sound many Twins fans heard, their playoff hopes burst.
It’s a devastating injury, not just to the Twins, but to baseball. The Twins and Liriano had everything done right–he was watched closely, he started in relief, he had his counts and innings monitored, and when he hurt himself, they took things very conservatively. While he awaits the results of an MRI taken quickly after the injury, it looks as if Liriano is headed for Tommy John surgery. If so, he’ll miss the bulk of the 2007 season. We won’t know with certainty until the MRI comes back and honestly, when the injury happened, Liriano’s reaction of “hanging” his arm looked to me more like a shoulder injury than an elbow problem. There’s still small hope that not all is lost. Players come back from Tommy John all the time. I just wish they didn’t have to.
- The strained lat is an injury I’ll be looking at closely this offseason. Just as we didn’t really know what an oblique was five years ago, the lat is becoming the “It” injury in pitching these days. Curt Schilling is the latest victim, joining his teammate Kyle Snyder, Ben Sheets, Jake Peavy and Bartolo Colon as victims. There have been varying causes and responses to this injury, so there’s no clear timetable. Schilling was scheduled to throw a sim game on Wednesday, but that was pushed back one day due to stiffness in his pitching arm. That will make him unavailable for Saturday’s doubleheader with the Yankees. Schilling is likely to return this season, though it will be at his leisure.
- Mark Mulder had successful surgery last week, but what does that mean? All surgery where the problem is corrected and the patient wakes up can be qualified as successful. What Cards fans want to know is if Mulder might come back as something near what he was. (Of course, Cards fans might not care if Walt Jocketty elects to let Mulder move on.) Mulder had a repair of his shoulder, specifically focused on the rotator cuff. The expected debridement became more significant once the shoulder was visualized, making this surgery much more like the 2005 surgery on Kerry Wood than the 2003 surgery on Matt Morris. Mulder faces a long road and a likely change in style when he does return. If he needs inspiration, he should look to Chris Carpenter, a guy who came back from worse to be a Cy Young favorite.
- With all of this doom and gloom, there is at least some good news today. Andy Pettitte does not have a significant problem in his elbow. Instead, he merely has some inflammation and pain in his flexor tendon. He had a cortisone injection and could make his next start, though delay is possible. Pettitte is a free agent this offseason, and while he’s expected to stay in Houston, this injury will factor into the offers he gets. Pettitte will likely try and pitch a couple more times this season, if to do nothing else than prove his health.
- The Giants have shut down Armando Benitez due to chronic knee problems. The medical staff for the Giants have been working hard to keep Benitez available, but even their diligent work failed to keep Benitez healthy enough to pitch effectively. Benitez’s chronic problem is likely to be with him throughout the rest of his career, calling his effectiveness into question in an expensive 2007 contract year. At this stage, the best-case scenario for the Giants might be a Jeff Bagwell style retirement.
- Scott Mathieson is no Francisco Liriano, just a young pitcher with a jetliner ERA for a contending team. He elected to have Tommy John surgery in the near future rather than rehabbing and possibly having the surgery deferred. He’ll miss most of the 2007 season while rehabbing, though there’s no reason to think that he can’t return for 2008.
- The Dodgers get Chad Billingsley back in the rotation after he missed nearly three weeks with an oblique strain and various setbacks. While Billingsley’s pitch count will be kept low, Grady Little also needs to get a good look at his young stud, trying to decide on what looks to be an extremely complex playoff roster. Billingsley has been watched closely throughout his rehab, so if he’s cleared to pitch as expected on Saturday, he’s going to be healthy enough to win.
- Quick Cuts: Rich Harden will throw a 60-pitch simulated game on Saturday. If all goes well, he’ll be back on the roster by mid-week … David Eckstein is taking BP and should be activated early next week … The Red Sox aren’t ready to shut down Manny Ramirez just yet. Maybe soon, if there’s no progress with the knee. The sooner he has surgery, the sooner he’ll–well, he’s been pretty darn good with the knee problem, hasn’t he? … Glendon Rusch, one of the nicest guys I’ve met in baseball, is out for the season with a blood clot in his lung. The problem was caught quickly and there should be no long-term effects … Brilliant … Anyone who thinks Craig Biggio isn’t coming back next year is crazy. It’s hard to think of him in another uniform, but that’s possible.
Be sure to watch “The Fantasy Show” Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2 or catch my “Fantasy 3:50” on ESPNews at 3:50 p.m. (I’m involved in as many fantasies as Jenn Sterger these days …) and I’ll be back next week.