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I’ve never been a regular at a hotel before, but there are lots of new things going on in my life. Watching Peter Gammons return to Bristol was pretty amazing, and something that made things feel very right with the world in my book. Baseball’s heading down the stretch with two teams in, two teams near locks, and four slots still open. The wild, wild wild-card race have been reduced to two-team races in each league, and again, there’s one common factor-the healthiest team wins. The problem is that there are virtually no healthy teams at this time of year. No team has a fully healthy pitching staff, no team is coming down the stretch with the team they expected to have. That makes for exciting, if flawed, baseball.

Powered by William Shatner’s Has Been, on to the injuries…

  • Roy Halladay didn’t get hit by a comebacker for once. No, this time it was a stiff forearm. Halladay has been injured for much of the last three years, and while he’s been exceptionally effective when healthy, he’s become less and less healthy with the passage of time. It’s easy to say that his injuries were traumatic, “freak” injuries, but even those tend to pile up. Early reports are that the injury is a forearm strain. Even if it’s minor, it will likely end his season. For those of you in the fantasy finals, please stop wailing. It’s going to be a hard fix, but the Jays need to figure out how to keep Halladay healthy, period. There’s no evidence that the forearm problem is related to the comebacker he took off his elbow two starts prior, but it is one heck of a coincidence.
  • The Yankees wasted a lot of champagne after clinching the AL East. They feel better about their chances beyond the division after watching Mariano Rivera throw off the mound. Rivera had no problems during his mound session, and while there’s no date set for his return, this is more a function of clinching and having time than just Rivera’s injury.

    The Yankees have finally given up the hope of having Carl Pavano back in any capacity. Simply put, Pavano cannot handle pitching for the Yankees, and pain or not has done everything to keep from standing on that mound. It’s unfortunate for everyone involved how this situation has turned out, and a cautionary tale against long-term contracts for pitchers. Will’s rule for pitching contracts: Pay for certainty, not potential.

  • It had to be some déjà vu for the Giants medical staff when they saw Eliezer Alfonzo stagger back from a foul ball off his mask. The Giants have played much of the season without Mike Matheny after a similar incident. Alfonzo will be watched closely over the next few days in hopes that he won’t suffer the same after-effects. Matheny is still unable to do many of the things necessary for him to return, and there’s speculation that he will retire. Concussions are something that sports in general need to take more seriously. It’s not “getting your bell rung,” it’s a brain injury.
  • Andy Pettitte will come back on Thursday, taking the mound after missing a couple starts with injuries and personal issues. Pettitte’s pitch count will be limited during his first appearance since September 12 and getting a cortisone shot the next day. These starts are important for both Pettitte and the Astros, because GM Tim Purpura will have a tough decision to make about Pettitte’s Houston future after the season. Watch Pettitte’s control, especially early in the outing.
  • Chipper Jones came back from his insurance-forced DL stint and immediately injured his foot. Jones was already still dealing with an oblique strain that team sources tell me isn’t fully healed, only allowing him to hit from one side. Of course, hitting from one side entails using two feet. Like Ken Griffey Jr., Jones has pain and swelling in the second toe of his right foot. There’s no timetable for his return, though it’s not expected to keep him out long.
  • Quick Cuts: Pedro Martinez will be throwing on Thursday, but don’t expect to see much. Watch for him to work on control and confidence in what will likely be a limited outing … Jarrod Washburn is done for the season after suffering a calf strain … Josh Johnson will be shut down, though his forearm pain is not considered serious … Ryan Klesko and Mike Lieberthal both returned to action after working their way through back problems. Nevertheless, don’t expect much from either in the playoff chase.

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