Just a reminder about our upcoming Pizza Feed in New York (and making sure it’s above the fold here), I’ll be at Foley’s Pub (check website for directions) at 8 p.m. on Monday, June 30. A bevy of BPers, a phalanx of Fantasy 411ers, and other illustrious guests will be talking baseball (and celebrating my birthday). No RSVP is needed, but space is limited. Foley’s is an amazing place with a collection of great memorabilia and one of the most amazing urinals you’ll ever see. (Seriously! Ask Sean for the Bobby Cox story on that!) I hope to see everyone there. Powered by the idea of Joe Sheehan singing “Go Will, it’s your birthday”, on to the injuries:
Tom Glavine (120 DXL)
Like John Smoltz and Curt Schilling, Tom Glavine has nothing left to prove. The guy has put up numbers that certainly make him a Hall of Fame lock, even more than Smoltz and Schilling because of his achieving the magical 300-win mark. He’s always been a smart player, belying his hockey background by staying healthy and playing within himself (like Greg Maddux), rather than wind up fighting through injuries. It’s that latter that has some with the Braves thinking that Glavine’s not likely to want to go through any extended rehab if his flexor tendon needs surgery. “I’m not questioning his heart,” said one source close to Glavine. “It’s a combination of pride and brains. He doesn’t want to pitch for a check or look like [Bobby Cox] should be pulling him.” Unlike Smoltz, who wants to leave the game on his own terms, Glavine is more likely to tip his cap and walk away if surgery is needed. That’s where I think this is headed, leaving the Braves with yet another rotation slot to fill, and Cooperstown with another plaque to get ready. A final decision will be made just before the All-Star break.
Albert Pujols (15 DXL)
Pujols is expected to be activated in time for today’s game against the Tigers, coming off of the DL after spending the minimum amount of time on it. I’m on record as being worried about this, in the sense that I’m convinced that Pujols’ calf injury is at least weakly interrelated to his chronic foot problems. We’ll have to watch closely to see how Pujols plays, but it’s hard since the guy plays so well through even major injuries. The Cards have given back a couple games in the standings with Pujols out, but making sure that he’s healthy and available is going to be a lot more important for the Cards in the long term, especially if the Cards and Brewers wind up fighting not only the Cubs for the division title, but also each other for the Wild Card slot.
Josh Hamilton (3 DXL)
It seems like anything involving Hamilton winds up being a bit odd. That’s not a bad thing, but you simply can’t think of this guy as ‘normal’ in any way. His sore knee has some worried because he had minor surgery on it a couple of years back. That’s typical and can be indicative of many things, but for Hamilton it keeps him off the field, and that’s the one place that, sources tell me, he’s comfortable. We all know the back story, but for Hamilton, staying on the field is more key than most. Ignore the RBI totals and just consider how a lot of free time might be a great thing for most players, but potentially something of a trap for Hamilton. Expect him to get back out there, but with a close eye from the Rangers medical staff on him to keep a minor knee problem from turning into something bigger. It was about this time last year when he hit a wall and had a wrist injury.
David Ortiz (45 DXL)
Ortiz is secretly a swinger. No, I’m not going Page Six on you here; Ortiz was able to take some swings off a tee Wednesday; doctors and coaches watched intently. While he wasn’t swinging the bat anywhere near full speed, it’s progress. Remember, he could barely hold the bat when the Red Sox put him on the DL. He was sore, but not in pain, both during and after the session, leaving him to say afterwards that he was “weeks away” from a return. That’s as expected, so even at 45 DXL there’s a better than average chance that it will stretch beyond that. The Red Sox have tended to the conservative this season with all injuries, something that’s informed by a very flexible and deep roster as well as the standings and a dose of good sense.
Felix Hernandez (5 DXL)
As expected, the Mariners have acknowledged that Hernandez isn’t going to make his next start. After missing his throw day, even Hernandez understood that he wasn’t going to make it, and with Erik Bedard ready to be slotted in, the M’s will just skip Hernandez this time through. Sources tell me that the ankle is making good progress, and that another week of rest and therapy should have him back. There’s still some concern that Hernandez’s tenuous mechanics will be altered with pain in his landing foot, so they’ll be watching him closely once he’s ready to do a bullpen session. While I don’t expect this to need a DL stint, the M’s are holding on to the retro move in case he needs to miss the second start. Given where they are in the standings, I’d guess that they’ll be conservative with him; Mariners fans should certainly hope so.
Fausto Carmona (50 DXL)
There’s not much ‘news’ on Carmona, but since so many of you are emailing, it’s easier to do a quick update. His hip tightened up a bit after his last simulated game, pushing his return back slightly. He’s expected to start his throwing program back up by the weekend, which should give us a better idea about when he might be back. The more initial concern is whether the week of rest and treatment will clear up the tightness, but given the Indians‘ precipitous fall-which is killing me in Predictatron-the Indians are likely to be conservative with next year’s presumed ace.
Kosuke Fukudome (3 DXL)
Doing radio yesterday, I was asked who my “halfway rookies of the year” were. I instantly said Geovany Soto in the NL, but was reminded that the Cubs have two candidates with Kosuke Fukudome a technical rookie. The Cubs’ outfielder has been playing through a mildly strained calf, but finally mentioned it to the field and medical staff this week. It’s hardly affected him at the plate, but he was starting to lose some range afield, and when it tightened up during warm ups, Lou Piniella decided to play it cautious. Fukudome might miss today’s game to get some extra rest after last night’s start, but he’s expected back for the weekend matchup with the White Sox. Fukudome hasn’t been running much, but he has been a smart baserunner that I wouldn’t expect this to have any significant effect on how the “rookie” will play in the short term. (As for the AL, I’d pick Evan Longoria. I think voters will find it hard to pick Jacoby Ellsbury after seeing him in last year’s World Series.)
J.J. Hardy (0 DXL)
Gord Ash mentioned in our interview earlier this week that the team would be comfortable using Alcides Escobar at short if Hardy needed to go on the DL. Ash isn’t just the Assistant GM, he’s the head of the medical program in Milwaukee, so that was a comment that I took to heart. Hardy has lost power this season, and with his shoulder flaring up-yes, it’s the one that cost him the 2004 season and required surgery-that possibility is becoming more possible. Hardy’s current condition is being called a strained rotator cuff. It’s his glove arm, so it’s really much more a problem at the plate than in the field, but there’s a chance that the team will try to buy him some extra rest, perhaps even using the All-Star break to add in a little extra time without losing games. Escobar’s a speed guy with good defense, so he’s worth keeping on your fantasy watch list.
Gary Sheffield (0 DXL)
Sheffield has come back from his oblique strain rested and ready. His bat speed seems back, so the question becomes: Will it last? That’s one there’s not an immediate answer to, even among the sources that I have that get paid to make that kind of judgment. One scout who saw him on TV but not in person thought that Sheffield would have an “up time, then slide back down,” while one front office type thought that Sheffield has a tendency to “get healthy when he’s in a good mood” and that he “seems engaged by the idea of a big dramatic comeback.” My guess is that Sheffield will have some minor problems with the shoulder, but that Jim Leyland will keep his rested enough to keep him reasonably effective.
Josh Johnson (120 DXL)
Johnson made his second rehab start in Double-A and looked very good. The most impressive thing about the start wasn’t that he went five innings allowing only six hits, it was that he had impeccable control. One source told me that Johnson “was hitting spots and making all his pitches. He never had to just throw it up there or tried to throw it by these kids.” Control and command are the biggest problems for TJ returnees, so seeing that kind of command so early in the process is a big plus. Johnson only needs to work on stamina before he’s ready to come back to the Marlins rotation. That looks to be sometime around the All-Star break, a bit ahead of expectations.
Troy Percival (3 DXL)
The Rays are going to give Troy Percival a couple of days off to see if a little rest and a lot of time with head trainer Ron Porterfield can fix whatever’s going on with his hamstring. The problem is a chronic one, so it’s not going to just clear up, but the discomfort that’s causing significant alterations in his mechanics is what the team will be focused on. Giving Percival the occasional days-off period is a smart idea, but only works if there’s someone besides Cardiac Dan Wheeler to hand the ball to in the ninth. The Rays made a save irrelevant Wednesday by pounding on the Marlins, which is a pretty effective bullpen-saver, but if there’s anything that Andy Friedman and the front office have to work on between now and the trading deadline, it’s finding another arm, internally or externally, that can help take some of the workload off Percival.
Quick Cuts: Brandon Inge hits the DL with a strained oblique, so Ivan Rodriguez will shoulder a heavy load over the next few weeks. … It’s nice to see that the Cardinals are using the imPACT system to monitor concussions. With Tony La Russa at the helm, I’d worry if there wasn’t an objective system in place. They must not have had concussions in the old days, which would explain a lot. … Carlos Zambrano was playing catch before Wednesday’s game. That’s a good sign. … Carlos Pena will have a one game rehab to test his finger, then rejoin the Rays for the weekend. … J.J. Putz is making some progress, but won’t be back before the All-Star break. … Mark Mulder is not going to get the start on Saturday. … Johnny Damon is going to try and play today, but a decision will be made before the game on whether his foot is ready. … I’m no snowboarder, but Burton makes some phenomenal luggage.