I highly recommend going to a ballgame and having fun. No matter what the game or who you’re with, there’s something about going to a game that just makes the day wash away for a while. Now, it’s better if you get the chance to go to a Rays game with Jenn Sterger and her friends, Brittany Link and Ashley Pena, because I can’t remember laughing so hard at a game. From Ashley’s yells at Chad Bradford that he was a “knuckledragger” to Brittany’s more colorful suggestion of what she was going to put in Aubrey Huff‘s mouth after a long home run, it was never boring. The Trop wasn’t exactly full, the game wasn’t exactly crisp, and even Scott Kazmir had an off night, but none of that will be what I remember. Nope, it will be sitting at the ballpark making friends, taunting the umps, seeing Don Zimmer in new ways, laughing at the mascots, and drinking beer through a straw. Okay, that last one was only Ashley, but we’ll forgive her that.

Powered by the power of friends and a ballgame, on to the injuries:

  • Roger Clemens is going to take a cortisone shot to try and lower the swelling in his elbow. There’s a bit of confusion as to how the injury happened–Clemens said it happened after blisters on his feet caused him to alter his mechanics, while my sources say that he’s had elbow soreness for the past couple of starts. Either way, the hope is that the spike will get him past the acute stage and safely back on the mound. There’s really no available solid evidence as to what’s specifically going on; initial descriptions of the symptoms sounded like the injury was a bone spur, but recent descriptions sound more like its simple irritation and inflammation. Few pitchers know their deliveries as well as Clemens, so if it is in fact a mechanical problem, I imagine it will be fixed quickly. If it’s more than that, then it will still fall upon Clemens to decide if he wants to or even can pitch through the pain in what could be his final shot.
  • We haven’t talked about David Dellucci–or actually any Indian–here in a while. That’s not coincidence. While the Tigers have struggled with injuries, the Indians have quietly been healthy and productive. Dellucci has been rehabbing after surgery to repair his torn hamstring and is getting closer to a return to action, running on the bases and in the outfield. According to sources, the team’s goal is to get him back in a couple weeks: “Sooner is nicer, but all [the Indians] really want is him healthy and [with] enough time to evaluate how he fits in.” Getting him back in a week to ten days seems reasonable given the injury and surgery, as does the Indians’ goal. Having Dellucci back in the lineup would give them another option in right field heading into October.
  • The reports on Gary Sheffield were pretty bleak up until late yesterday, when Sheffield suddenly decided he’d be able to play soon, perhaps later this week. Maybe it’s just the cortisone talking, but if Sheffield’s feeling good, it times up well with the DL move, and it’s likely we’ll see the slugger back in the Tigers lineup quickly. The question then becomes can he swing the bat well, and more importantly, can he stay healthy without the cortisone? There’s no evidence to say that he can, and as we’ve seen with chronic shoulders lately, they’re complicated and painful. The offensive help he could provide makes trying it out worthwhile, but the Tigers can’t count on Sheffield being a difference maker. They can only hope he is.
  • Peter Angelos does not work for you. As much as fantasy owners want to see Erik Bedard back on the mound, the Orioles don’t have much left to play for this year. Given that Bedard is perhaps the one bright spot on the season and the brightest bullet point that Leo Mazzone has added to his resumé since heading north, the O’s are being understandably protective of their ace. There’s nothing more here than a simple oblique strain, and that’s the way the O’s want to keep it. Expect this injury to go longer than normal as they simply make sure he’s healthy before allowing him back out there. I think he’ll be back, just to go out on a good note by getting one or two starts at the end of the season, and that the injury has no long-term repercussions.
  • The Red Sox are still taking their time and letting Manny Ramirez return at his own pace. This is a smart thing to do given their lead and their options (like Jacoby Ellsbury). Ramirez’s back/oblique issue isn’t serious, but could be if he came back quickly and aggravated it. Ramirez’s noted ambivalence is in play here, but I believe that it might be his ambivalence towards the training staff more than his seemingly lackadaisical style. Putting a player back out on the field involves some trust, some innate feeling that the player is ready, and I don’t think the Sox really “trust” what they think with Manny here. It’s not that he’s lying to them; it’s more the Manny equivalent of a poker face. Once again, the Red Sox medical staff is far more concerned with doing the right thing in the long term.
  • Quick Cuts: Great news for Mets fans–Pedro Martinez says his arm feels great a day later. … Bartolo Colon will start for Salt Lake in the PCL playoffs. It’s likely his last rehab start, but there’s no indication what the Angels‘ next step will be with Colon. … Jermaine Dye left Tuesday’s game with what appeared to be a quad problem. No word on the severity, so watch this one. … Tim Wakefield threw a pen session and should be ready to go as planned on Thursday. … The A’s appear close to shutting down Kiko Calero with shoulder problems. Calero’s history can’t be ignored here, but the A’s pitching injuries might be the story of their season. … The catcher says the elbow hurts, and the pitcher says he’s fine. You know, it’s easier to believe Ivan Rodriguez on this one, and I’ll be watching Jeremy Bonderman closely in his next couple starts, as I’m sure the Tigers have been. … Brandon Backe made a nice, if not terribly effective, return from Tommy John surgery, hitting his pitch count and showing no real problems with the repaired elbow in his 5 2/3 innings; the control and command aren’t sharp yet.

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