I don’t know about most of you, but one thing I really don’t want to see early on a Sunday morning is myself in high-definition video. Unfortunately, the citizens of Indianapolis were subjected to that on Sunday when my pal John Michael asked me to come on with him at WTHR. While TV has lost its mystery and wonder to me–“Oh look, there’s the set! And the green screen for weather!”–it’s become a way of looking in the mirror. BP, Ballbug, and MLB.com are great, but it’s still local news and Sportscenter where most people get their sports fix. With all the talk of East Coast bias, here in the Midwest, we have our own. There’s the natural focus on ‘local’ teams, or as I’ve come to call them, the blackout teams. It’s always interesting to see what else people want to talk about, whether it be the local anchor who loves the Indians, or questions about how long Lou Piniella‘s indefinite suspension will be. My conclusion was that the shaping of five minutes of sports often creates the ideas rather than informing them. As TV loses a bit of market to YouTube and whatever comes next, I wonder if we’ll get away from the soundbite, and if highlights will look slow to the next generation.
Powered by my friend’s new daughter, Ava, on to the injuries:
- Doug Mientkiewicz went down in a heap, and the injury looked much, much worse than it turned out to be. Not that a broken wrist and concussion are good, but for as long as Mientkiewicz was down with the apparent neck injury, it was a surprise to see him carted off sitting up. In the collision with Lowell, the slo-mo showed Mientkiewicz’s head twisting, much like a boxer takes a big punch to the chin. The injuries push the Yankees first baseman to the DL, joining Jason Giambi and creating a gap at first base and DH. Johnny Damon may borrow a glove and get some time at the bag, but there’s more speculation centering on a trade. After talking to sources, I’m more inclined to believe that the Yanks might go the A’s route here, looking for a cheap but effective “Quad-A” guy.
Shelley Duncanor Eric Duncan might get the first look, but someone like Graham Koonce is more their type than Todd Helton or Mark Teixeira. Mientkiewicz is out at least eight weeks due to the fractured wrist, and as we all know by now, the concussion bears watching.
- Oh yeah–Roger Clemens is a bit injured, too. A “fatigued groin” sounds like something that might get censored, but in fact it’s the groin equivalent of a dead arm. Sources conflict on what it actually means–one said that it was a “twinge, some tightness.” Another mentioned that Clemens felt like he wasn’t getting the same kind of push. Either way, the Yankees will know more after an MRI that they’ve scheduled, which suggests that they don’t know the severity yet either. If you read BP2007, you’ll know that much of Clemens’ value is caught up in how many starts he can make, so any extended absence is going to hurt the Yankees.
The Bombers are also worried a bit about Andy Pettitte‘s back. He left Sunday’s game with the Red Sox with back spasms, though initial reports make it seem relatively minor. Pettitte is wearing down, aging quickly as some would say, so expect shorter outings from him as long as he remains healthy enough to get to the mound.
- The Yanks aren’t the only AL East team with first base problems. The Blue Jays suffered yet more damage when Lyle Overbay took a pitch off his hand. While which bone was broken is not publicly known, the four- to six-week timeframe is on point for any of the possibilities. The usual caveats about bat control and power hold here, especially given the style of hitter that Overbay is when he’s on. In the interim, Matt Stairs will get some work at first. This is the ninth Jays player to hit the DL, and with Shaun Marcum having back spasms, there could be a tenth soon. There are times when injuries appear almost viral, and this is one of them. One factor might be that there’s only so much a medical staff can do–with two or three trainers plus associated staff, dealing with this many injuries at once doesn’t leave as much time for the preventative work. It might be time to call up a trainer from the minor leagues, not as a replacement, but as a reinforcement. The fact is that when I’m asked what teams can do to reduce injuries, there are two things I always say–pay your trainers better, and get more of them.
- Joe Mauer is in Florida, not Minnesota (or wherever it is the Twins are today). He left the team yesterday to get in some work at extended spring training before coming back later this week. It appears that Friday is the goal, but the team is now being very cagey about the return date. Mauer’s slow recovery has a lot of people worried about his ability to stay healthy in both the short and longer term, a concern I share, but in this case, the team is simply following the symptoms. Mauer’s healing slowly for no publicly known reason, and the team is being smart in not rushing him back. The DH versus catcher proposition has been run into the ground, so I won’t belabor it again, but no matter how good a hitter Mauer is, he’s worth nothing as long as he’s on the DL. The near-term ability to keep Mauer, Justin Morneau, Johan Santana, and Torii Hunter on the field is going to determine whether the Twins are successful.
- Milton Bradley is killing some fantasy teams. The A’s are hoping that Bradley’s latest leg problem, a recurrence of his calf strain, will only take a few days or perhaps a week to clear up. They’ve shown a willingness this year to keep players active through an injury and play a man down if it means that they can get a player back in less time than the DL minimum. That means that in most fantasy leagues, teams can’t DL Bradley, but let’s face it, Billy Beane and Bob Geren don’t care about your fantasy team. By doing this, they’re maximizing the value they have on hand, even when much of their talent hasn’t actually been on hand for much of the year. It’s also going to make the end-of-year stats look interesting for the A’s medical staff. The changing use/disuse of the DL is going to make it tougher to use this flawed measure in evaluating how good teams are at keeping their players healthy.
- Everyone was surprised when the Padres let it be known that Brian Giles could miss a month with his bruised knee. All medheads had to do was look to Florida, where Jeremy Hermida suffered a very similar injury. Hermida took almost eight weeks to come back from his injury, though he’s shown no problems since returning. Bone bruises don’t sound significant, but they are very painful and can lead to gait changes, which in turn can lead to muscle and ligament problems. Giles has always been a relatively quick healer, though as he ages, that’s slowed down some. Look for him to be back close to the front end of the estimates. As with Hermida, once the bruise clears, he shouldn’t have any problems.
- ESPN had a nice shot of David Ortiz in the cage during last night’s telecast. I didn’t really need to see Ortiz grimacing in HD, but we did learn that the hamstring strain is still bothering him, and that he is blaming dehydration. A case of the flu is one cause, though with all the cramping going on around the game, I’m wondering if Ortiz, like many players, takes creatine monohydrate. It’s an effective legal supplement, but the downside is that it can cause intracellular dehydration and lead to muscle strains. I’m not asking for beat writers to go digging around in lockers, but in cases like this, I think it bears asking whether Ortiz, Johnny Damon, or several of the other players who have had significant cramping issues are taking a supplement that has been noted for this downside effect. Worse, if that’s the case, you wonder why they’re not taking one of the other creatine variants that don’t create the same degree of cellular dehydration.
- We have a Mark Mulder sighting. The Cardinals pitcher will get on a mound for the first time this week, though this is more of a test than the start of something. Depending on how he performs and how his arm/shoulder responds, the Cardinals medical staff will put together a timetable. With Pedro Martinez also getting up on a mound soon, possibly this week, it appears that Mulder and Martinez are on very similar timetables, which is as expected. Given the information we have on both right now, I think we’re looking at a minor league rehab in mid-July and a return around August. It’s very fluid in both cases, and slight setbacks will means weeks lost. An interesting idea floated around some Mets circles essentially has Pedro doing his rehab in the Mets’ bullpen rather than the minors. I’m not sure if it would work, or how his workload could be controlled, but I like that the team seems willing to consider it.
- Last week, rumors were trickling out that Chris Duncan had an infection in his knee that could be MRSA, the drug-resistant infection that is too common in sports. The source of the rumors? The Cardinals medical staff was smart enough to check around, including with the crosstown football team, the Rams, which suffered their own small MRSA outbreak. That’s simply good policy, and even though it now appears that Duncan’s infection is not MRSA and is clearing up, I’m sure that the Cards were ready for anything. Duncan should be back sometime this week, though as with any minor knee injury, you have to be worried in the very short term about cascade effects from a changed gait. The Cards have a more serious knee problem with Preston Wilson. Wilson consulted with Dr. Richard Steadman in Colorado about whether to have a simple ‘scope of his knee, or to try the more controversial microfracture surgery for a potentially more permanent fix. Microfracture surgery is controversial in sports due to working for some (Amare Stoudemire of the Suns), and not working in others (Terrell Davis, now of the NFL Network). Without going all Pro Football Prospectus on you, I wouldn’t draft Kellen Winslow this fall any more than I’d have drafted Preston Wilson this spring.
Quick Cuts: I don’t want to open up the rumor mill this soon in the season, but there have been lots of emails asking me about trades for two players–Adam Dunn and Carlos Zambrano. As best I can tell, the Reds and Cubs aren’t even listening to offers on these players. Sometimes emphatic denials are telling for a different reason, but in this case, I believe them. … Working on getting more info on the thumb injury suffered by Adrian Beltre. Reports say it’s minor, but there’s some whispers that this is similar to the Chipper Jones injury. I hope to have more soon. … Good week for Carloses. Carlosii? Carlos Beltran and Carlos Guillen should be back in the lineup early this week. … Tom Gordon will begin throwing again this week, but there’s still no real timetable for his return. … Henry Blanco hits the DL just as Carlos Zambrano hit Michael Barrett. Blanco’s neck could require a surgery that would, in all likelihood, end his career. … Akinori Iwamura took a ball off of his eye, and will miss a couple of games just after returning from the oblique strain. There’s no fracture, but he does have some blurry vision. The team will be cautious with him. … Dave Roberts is getting closer to a return. Throwing is the biggest hurdle at this stage after elbow surgery. … What is it with the Rockies and steps? Matt Holliday hit his head on the dugout roof, but will be fine. … Takashi Saito left Sunday’s game with a hamstring strain. No definitive word on the severity, but expect Jonathan Broxton to get the ball late for the time being. … John Patterson is adding in breaking stuff in his side sessions. A rehab assignment doesn’t look too far away. … BPR gears up for the draft later today as we start up the podcasts with our draft guru, Kevin Goldstein. Look for tons of audio content from Kevin and Bryan, and once the draft is over, our friend (and BP Kings player) Rico Brogna will check in from the draft.