Powered by Madden 08, which has surprising therapeutic value, on to the injuries:
For three innings, he looked like the Pedro Martinez of old. He had good velocity, solid command, and according to one observer, Martinez was “making them look like A-ballers.” Which, in fact, his opposition was. Martinez’s second start in went relatively well, despite losing his perfect outing in the fourth when he started “playing around.” Martinez had upper 80’s velocity in the first inning, and went to 80 pitches if you include the ones he threw on the side after coming out. One noticeable thing is that he appears to have shortened his motion. If so, it’s likely that he’s still a bit tentative. The outing was a big positive for Martinez and the Mets, one that should put him on track to move up for his next start, probably to Double-A, and probably this weekend. Coming up with a real timeframe for his return to the Mets is still unclear, but it looks like it should happen during August. From what we saw today, Martinez can help the Mets, but I’m less sure that he can be a difference maker.
I did radio this morning with my friends Gresh and Zo on The Score in Providence. They had sound from Coco Crisp‘s interview with the station on Monday where he talked about “stretching it out” and “getting it rubbed out.” Nice trick if you can rub out a virus, but this wasn’t what Crisp was speaking of. What he was really saying that his legs were as much of a problem as his mild illness. Sources tell me that Crisp is tired and having some trouble with both calves, almost as if he’s starting out in a pre-cramp state. It’s definitely something to keep an eye on. This shouldn’t be a problem for Crisp in the long-term, but he should get rested over the next couple weeks.
Travis Hafner went 1-for-5 in his first game back for the Indians, but he was also robbed of a big hit on a great defensive play by Curtis Granderson. Hafner didn’t show much of a problem with his knee during Tuesday’s game, so there’s nothing that we really learned about how Hafner will play going forward. Instead, Hafner’s readiness will rely upon trainer Lonnie Soloff and his staff to keep Hafner as close to healthy as he can be, but also on Hafner to make the adjustments and play through the discomfort only when it makes sense. How they work together on this could be the difference in the AL Central.
I’m still fired up about the way the situation was handled on Sunday with David Ross. A source tells me that even after the training staff allowed Ross to stay in the game after being hit at home plate (cleanly) by Mike Cameron, the coaching staff was having some questions. Finally, the first base coach, Billy Hatcher, saw from his vantage point that Ross wasn’t focusing well and appeared at one point, according to my source, to be “out on his feet.” Again, I’d love to know what the trainers saw when they went out to the field, taking over four minutes before allowing Ross to sit up, that convinced them to let him play. Was it Ross saying he was fine? And if so, isn’t it the trainer’s job to make that decision for someone who’s both biased and likely not thinking well? The problem of concussions in sports can never be minimized, and incidents like this show me that MLB isn’t taking it seriously enough yet. Ross, for his part, is still having post-concussive effects, and was placed on the DL.
While the Brewers and Cubs race each other back down to .500 in the NL Central, injuries have become a central part of the story. Alfonso Soriano is close to coming back for the Cubs, so what about the Brewers ace, Ben Sheets? Sheets made a big step on Tuesday, throwing a bullpen session without protective tape on his finger. Sheets made it through the session without problem, throwing at “workout speeds,” which sounds like 75-80 percent, and mixing in some curves. If there’s no post-session soreness, Sheets should be on track for a rehab start sometime in the next ten days, which puts him back in The Show at the start of September. Whether he makes four or five starts could be a big deal, but whether those are healthy starts is the core concern.
Aramis Ramirez came back after missing the weekend with wrist issues and a cortisone injection, but he showed little sign of any lingering problem Tuesday against Aaron Harang. He took a big cut in the third inning and hit one out of the yard, so at least in the short term the wrist doesn’t appear to be much of a problem. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s a recurrence after the effects of the cortisone shot wear off, but at this stage it doesn’t look like this is going to be anything more than an annoyance for Ramirez.
Nomar Garciaparra heads to the DL with a strained calf. The Dodgers are calling this a precautionary move to protect an injury Garciaparra has been playing through. The odd thing here is that no one seems to have noticed. I watched a bit of Monday’s game and didn’t see any sign of the problem, which doesn’t mean much. It does indicate that when the Dodgers say it’s not serious, it likely isn’t, and that Garciaparra should be back at or near the minimum.
It has not been the best year for backs. Randy Johnson had microsurgery last offseason, came back, and then needed a follow-up procedure after the problem returned. Now Mark Kotsay is having problems; he had surgery at the start of the season to correct his chronic back problem, but is once again experiencing the same type of soreness that caused him to miss time in the past. It’s not really any more of a problem now than it was then, but it also shows that this kind of surgery didn’t erase the problem. In essence, the A’s will have to go back to knowing that Kotsay will miss time here and there.
The first rehab outing for Joel Zumaya went well. His one inning of work included a couple of strikeouts, but didn’t include triple-digits on the radar gun. Ninety four is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s also not where Zumaya normally works. He did have a couple of strikeouts in his inning of work. He also threw his curve, a pitch he’d all but abandoned since converting to relief. He’s due to throw up to 20 pitches on Wednesday, then 30 more on Saturday–though some will likely come on the side–before heading back to Detroit. The lack of any back-to-back work is the only thing to note here. Jim Leyland will have some restrictions on how he uses Zumaya once he gets him back, but in a race as tight as the AL Central, even a reduced or restricted Zumaya is likely to be a factor.
The Rays aren’t so good this year, but they’re improving. The emergence of James Shields has been one of the season’s bright lights, so keeping him healthy and effective is critical in the remaining days of the season. Shields is nearing his career high for innings, but hasn’t lost anything in the way of velocity, command, or control. Last season between Triple-A and Tampa Bay, Shields threw 186 innings, and by the 30-inning rule of thumb, he’s on pace to be just at the “danger zone” by the end of the season. Scott Kazmir‘s pitching like he’s found a lucky charm or something, having passed last season’s total, but it’s tougher to judge him. He went 186 innings a couple of years ago, but has always had minor injuries or the team holding him back. Keeping both hurlers at or just below 200 should be easy enough given the options that the Rays have. Keeping these two healthy and at the top of the 2008 rotation is critical for the club’s future success, but so is figuring out which of the prospects goes behind them to round out that rotation.
Troy Glaus left the Jays to have his injured ankle looked at, but also to come up with an offseason plan. The foot, ankle, and various other problems he’s dealt with through the season are going to have to be addressed one way or another, and surgery is a likely option. Glaus is likely to hold off on a decision until the offseason. As a result, it doesn’t look as if Glaus will go on the DL right now, but note that a part of his recovery plan could include ending his season early to give him extra healing time.
Quick Cuts: Shawn Hill looked solid in his first start since May. A 7/1 K rate and six strong innings is a nice start and a nice start. … Brendan Donnelly will undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss much, if not all, of 2008. … The Astros have both Adam Everett (leg) and Hunter Pence (wrist) taking batting practice. Pence is likely to be back first, though both could start short rehab assignments soon. … The Tigers are dealing with a mild outbreak of flu in the clubhouse; Craig Monroe and Placido Polanco, among others, have felt the symptoms. … Willy Taveras left Tuesday’s game with a quad strain and is headed to the DL. … Zach Duke has been pushed to the 60-day DL, a move that likely ends his disappointing season. Absent other signs, this one’s on Jim Colborn.