Andy Roddick may not have won at Wimbledon, losing to the man who may be the greatest of all time, but his serves are still astonishing. A couple of years ago, I came really close to getting Roddick to throw a baseball as part of the RCA Championships’ “The Best Athletes” ad campaign. His agents stepped in, but I’m still convinced that his 135 mph serve would convert into a 95 mph pitch. I’m not saying that he immediately steps into a bullpen, but maybe if he’d gone for baseball instead of tennis back as a teenager, we might be looking at him the way we do with Joel Zumaya. I’m not alone here, either; both Tom House and Peter Gammons thought that his serve and arm speed would translate to a mid-90s heater. The other interesting point is that Roddick’s serve stayed at the 130+ mark for the entire four-hour match. That’s 243 first serves, plus 75 second serves, a number closer to a softballer than a baseball pitcher. I’d be curious why tennis players can keep this up without loss, though my guess is that it has as much to do with the long follow-through as their inherent athleticism and conditioning it takes to play at the highest level. Andy Roddick once played tennis against a writer while using a frying pan instead of a racquet; would it be so much to have him throw a couple pitches?

Powered by Starbucks’ Africa (red) blend, on to the injuries:

Chien-Ming Wang (45 DXL)

Wang has had two situations that may have, inadvertently, led to his latest problem. Yes, I think the foot injury and the related “hip imbalance” led to small imperceptible changes in his delivery that ended up causing problems in his shoulder. The problem is, we’ll never know. The Yankees, as far as I can tell, have never had a high-speed video analysis or a computerized force analysis done on Wang, or on any of their pitchers for that matter. For a team that spends in excess of $200 million on their payroll, and more still on bonuses, while charging the ticket prices that they do, it’s as outrageous as anything in baseball. Not only could they send any of their pitchers to Birmingham, Cincinnati, or San Diego (three locations I know of with this equipment), they could have their own right there in Yankee Stadium. They could offset the cost by allowing local kids to come in for their own analysis; you can’t tell me that kids from miles around wouldn’t flock to that kind of operation, even at a couple hundred bucks a pop. Instead, the Yankees are guessing like I am, with the only data being an MRI that shows the results, but not the cause. Wang will miss at least a month, perhaps longer due to a shoulder strain and “severe” bursitis, both which suggest some sort of inflammation and/or impingement.

Phil Hughes (0 DXL)

Because of Wang’s injury, the Yankees will need to replace him in the rotation with someone. The first name on virtually everyone’s lips is that of Hughes, who would be coming back out of the pen. My feelings on his success in the role aside, the Yankees immediately waved this thought off, saying that Hughes couldn’t move to the rotation because he’s not “stretched out.” Really? Hughes has spent the better part of his life as a starting pitcher, and only the last month or so as a reliever. He threw 90 pitches in five of six May starts (yes, I’m including the one 89-pitch outing), and he threw 63 in a relief outing on June 10. Are we saying that a month in the pen de-conditions starting pitchers so much that they’re unable to slide back into the rotation? Isn’t that precisely what the Yankees did last year with Joba Chamberlain? Granted, that was the “plan” for Chamberlain, but having done it once, couldn’t they easily do it again? I’m not saying that Hughes could go from the pen to 100 pitches, but I do have a hard time believing that any pitcher loses so much capability in such a short time. There’s likely a lot of data that could support my position here, but common sense does it effectively enough. Again, all that said, I don’t think that Hughes should be moved, just that he could.

Jorge Posada (2 DXL)

The Yankees’ backstop has been dealing with a sore thumb. It’s one of those things that catchers deal with, and what makes it so difficult for catchers to keep hitting effectively over the course of a season. Posada’s been both healthy for a catcher and a very good hitter for a long time, which highlights a couple of different skills. First, he has to be able to perform at less than 100 percent, but he also has to be able to avoid injuries in the first place. The latter seems to be more a matter of luck than skill, but time and again catchers at a young age demonstrate that they are either injury-prone or not, and it seldom changes over the course of a career. The survivor’s effect is strong here, but that’s not a statistical problem; the survivors are what we’re looking for. Posada homered on Sunday, so it appears the rest helped. The Yanks don’t have any days off until next week’s All-Star break, so look for Joe Girardi to find Posada a day or two off.

Fernando Martinez (15 DXL)

“A ligament behind his right knee has been hurting for a week.” That’s the quote that Adam Rubin got, but this one’s not about Jose Reyes. Instead, it’s Martinez who is having a similar problem, and now Mets fans are doing the “oh, not again” thing. (It’s not as if the Mets fans weren’t already out on the ledge.) Martinez is heading for an exam with Mets team doctors and is facing a possible DL stint. Martinez apparently had a similar problem in the knee back in 2006, while playing in the Dominican Republic. He came back well from it then, but the records on the real effect and treatment of the injury aren’t public. Keep a very close eye on this one, as his history of leg problems appears to be the only thing holding Martinez back. 

Scott Richmond (15 DXL)

One knowledgeable Twitterer said “don’t we know Brad Arnsberg by the trail of dead?” after Richmond completed the set, giving every Jays starter this season a stint on the DL before we even get to the All-Star break. Arnsberg and his “throw harder” mentality certainly makes for an easy target, but I’m not sure he’s the right one. The Jays’ pitchers have had different injuries to different parts of their arms that have occurred in different ways. Dustin McGowan and Francisco Rosario have been injured initially in the minors, while Jesse Litsch and Ricky Romero made it up before showing any real problems. More confounding is Roy Halladay, who’s only had minor problems and shown no ill effects during the Arnsberg era. Richmond’s bicipital tendonitis is no big deal in the longer term, but when even the ‘safety net’ arms are breaking down, it’s time for a hard look at the risk factors the Jays are taking on. While Arnsberg may not be saving any arms, it seems to be the front office and scouting staff that can’t seem to judge the skill of health.

Randy Johnson (TBA)

The Big Unit called for the ATC to come out and check him, then left the game without argument. Those are two things you don’t see pitchers do, and two things you certainly don’t expect to see from Johnson. Johnson had injured the shoulder in the previous half-inning on a swing; he immediately tossed the bat away and appeared to be walking back to the dugout. It was surprising to see him come out to the mound, but he was quickly gone after giving up a pair of home runs. Johnson will have an MRI today on what the Giants are calling a strained shoulder. With the break coming up, it’s likely that Johnson will skip a start this week at the very least. With the team’s seasonal fate riding on its pitching, the Giants have to be very concerned by this situation.

Aramis Ramirez (60 DXL)

Ramirez not only made it through a short rehab stint with Peoria, he really showed all the skills the Cubs were hoping to see. He had no trouble in the field, but more importantly, no hesitation at third base. He hit, but more importantly, he hit for power. The shoulder is still at risk, but no more so than it was the day Ramirez injured himself. It was a fluke, and it’s going to take as big a fluke to have the shoulder re-injured. That’s not to say there won’t be minor setbacks, but there’s a difference between mild setback and re-injury. Ramirez will be back at third base for the Cubs in tonight’s game. He’ll likely get some extra rest through the break, but given Lou Piniella‘s roster madness, it’s tough to say exactly how that will manifest.

Mark DeRosa (7 DXL)

DeRosa didn’t bring the wrist injury with him to St. Louis. The Cardinals don’t seem terribly concerned, as the wrist injury was a bit of bad luck, just one of those things that happens in baseball, though this obviously had terrible timing for the acquiring team, especially one that could use DeRosa’s bat and positional flexibility. DeRosa reportedly responded to the cortisone injection last week and will see doctors on Monday before an anticipated return to the lineup on Tuesday. Having already missed a week and with the All-Star break just ahead, if he’s not ready, the team will likely use a retroactive move to DL him and have him back after the break. That the Cards didn’t use him as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement tells us they’re keeping this option available.

Jeff Baker (0 DXL)

The Cubs traded for Baker as the Rockies were having their hand forced on bringing him off the DL. In something of a roster crunch deal, the Rockies flipped him for Alberto Albuquerque. (Seriously, that’s an awesome name. When I initially heard it, I thought that was the Isotopes’ mascot.) The trade itself isn’t that interesting or even important, but it serves as an object lesson. Most baseball fans think a player cannot be traded while on the DL. Baker wasn’t just on the DL, but on the 60-day DL. The exchange of medical records and the ability of the club to make the trade contingent on passing a physical made this possible. Remember it as we head through July. The Cubs did bring Baker off the DL once he’d passed the physical and he’ll slot into the utility role for them.

Quick Cuts:
Carlos Quentin went 2-for-3 in his first rehab game at Triple-A Charlotte. Observers say he looked good hitting but was still “limpy” both in the field and on the bases. Making it tougher is the lack of the DH option once he’s back, because that job is Jim Thome‘s. … There’s no value in shutting Grady Sizemore down. The minor surgery he needs on the elbow has a short recovery period, and he can’t do further damage by playing, though the symptoms could bother him in the interim. That’s what Cleveland will focus on-function. … Josh Hamilton‘s rehab was slowed by rain, not by anything physical; he was activated anyway and will play Monday. … Hanley Ramirez has a mild hip flexor strain. It’s worrisome only in the sense that he’s had a litany of injuries in his young career, and this is another to add to the list. … Raul Ibanez will play the field this week after a minor setback with his groin. He could still be back late this week. … Alex Gordon‘s rehab has reached Omaha. He’ll start playing the field this week and should be back in KC after the break. … Rich Harden‘s velocity was fine, but his control was off in his last, terrible start against the Brewers. We all know what that can mean. … Mike Lowell will hit off of a tee and throw, but he’s a ways off from a return. … Alexei Ramirez is back in the lineup after missing a couple of games with a bone bruise on his index finger. It shouldn’t be an issue in the near future. … Kevin Slowey heads to the DL with recurrent wrist problem he says is left over from being hit by a line drive. It’s unclear what the actual problem is, whether it’s soft tissue or bone. He’s easily replaceable, both for the Twins and on your fantasy team. … Mike Redmond is unable to throw after being hit by a foul tip. He could be headed to the DL if he’s not able to play by Tuesday. That could put more pressure on Joe Mauer in coming weeks. … Mike Sweeney had back spasms, the latest in a long line of back problems he’s fought for most of his career. He’s likely headed to the DL. … Eric Milton heads to the DL with an upper back injury. The Dodgers won’t be in any rush to get him back, though the innings they get from him will be significant as they try to figure out how to get their rotation to October with something left in the tank.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
I believe it's Alberto AlbuRquerque -- note the inserted R, without which searches at baseball-reference, etc., will come up empty. The city's name also had the R in the old days, but it was lost over time. With or without the R, isn't that a great name, though?
Anyone can search Twitter and see the "don't we know Brad Arnsberg by the trail of dead" line came from Keith Law. Why not just give him credit for the observation?
I'm still unclear if Twitter is on or off record and didn't have permission to quote.
My understanding, from reading NY-area papers, is that the Yankees are only saying that Hughes (or Aceves) could not start on Thursday and be a 100-pitch starter, that either of them would need to be stretched out before becoming a regular starter. Whether this would be done at the major league level or whether one would be sent down to stretch out in the minors was never said, but what I though was going on was that if Wang was only going to miss a start or two, then it made no sense to stretch out either, but if Will's right and Wang is gone for over a month, then it start to make sense to do it with one of them rather than go with Mitre for a long stretch.
The SF Chronicle was reporting that Randy Johnson talked his way back in the game after his at bat. Apparently, he pleaded that he had felt the "similar twinge" in his shoulder in the past. Then, he proceeded to throw 20 pitches. Amazing that the Giants training staff would let this happen and not take the conservative approach.
How close is Madison Bumgarner to getting called up. Is it concievable that he replaces Randy Johnson should a long DL stint become unavoidable?
I see you're implying a Rich Harden elbow problem in the quick cuts...isn't it his shoulder we're usually worried about?
Will, does that mean Ivo Karlovic could be Randy Johnson like?
Maybe. I think Roddick is probably the purest "test case" in that he's American and I assume he's familiar with baseball pitching, unlike a European. He's also got the hardest serve among top players.
I don't see how anyone extrapolates a tennis serve to pitching a baseball. The stresses on the body are totally different. The use of the shoulder, wrist, and particularly the elbow are completely different. What is the scientific basis for claiming Roddick can throw a ball 95 mph because he can whip a tennis racket hard and fast enough to make a ball go 140mph?
agreed. as a more extreme case: Usain Bolt couldn't throw 95.
Not really. The stresses in overhead ballistic sports are all pretty similar - tennis, handball, baseball, and volleyball. Athletes from all sports are subject to the same overuse injuries. Tennis players experience fewer catastrophic injuries because the nature of the grip and the overhead serve requires significant pronation through contact, which limits the damage done to the back of the elbow and the UCL. There's other reasons, too, but the overhand serve and the traditional pitching motion share a lot of common features.
I went to college with a guy that could throw 93-95 but couldn't throw with a lot of control and never made it out of Single-A ball. So while Roddick might have the talent to throw the ball hard, let's remember that there's a lot more to pitching than being able to throw the ball very fast.
Yes, but velocity is one thing you can't teach. Theoretically, pitchers can learn control. Randy Johnson is a great example.
In the case of Hanley, or even moreso Pujols, does an abundance of mostly minor injuries early in a career, that the athlete is mostly able to play through with little adverse effect, indicate anything for the later years of their career? Does it suggest a talent for playing through minor maladies without succumbing to major DL stretchs that should be repeatable through their later years? Or might the knicks add up over time and result in a more precipitous decline?
I don't know. This would be someplace an accurate historical injury database would come in handy. There aren't many comps for those guys period, let alone ones that had a similar injury history, though it's an interesting question.
Can you just not write about the mets for a few days? My doctor would just prefer if you lied to me.
So with Alex Gordon coming back, would that shuttle Mark Teahen back to the bench despite his relative success? Or would they try to move him to another corner?
Further to this, what kind of running game can we expect out of Gordon moving forward this year? Surely his hip recovery will prevent much coveted SB's?
"There's no value in shutting Grady Sizemore down." What's the value in playing him in a lost season?
I'd guess Cleveland fans would less likely to go out to the ballpark or watch the games on television if he's not playing.
Those people are already at home on-line at Tribe Forum calling for Wedge and Shapiro's heads
I'm pretty sure there was no way to assume the bullpen would implode this badly. The offense has been stellar, and it's not like Shapiro has sat on his hands. He's tried everything to acquire new arms to help the pen. Wedge on the other hand...can go.
I thought of the same thing while watching Roddick crank out one 130 MPH serve after another, which led me to this thought - could literally holding the racket be the reason why tennis players hold up? Because tennis players are holding an object of larger mass - despite modern technology's attempt to make rackets lighter - compared to that of a baseball, the acceleration of the arm must be lower than that of a pitcher due to the equation Force = Mass x Acceleration. That, of course, would imply that arm injuries are due to the unrestricted acceleration, or perhaps speed, of the arm. Keep in mind, I'm not a physics major by any stretch, but hopefully I did my high school Physics teachers proud...
What's the likelihood that Madison Bumgarner will be called up to replace Randy Johnson?
Andy Roddick = Joel Zumaya as John Daly = Adam Dunn
Justine Henin-Hardenne was clocked at 122 MPH, I would be shocked if she could break 65mph with a baseball. It just doesn't translate. I played college tennis back in the day, my first serve was around 110mph, I can barely hit 70mph with a baseball.

Baseball Prospectus uses cookies on this website. They help us to understand how you use our website, which allows us to provide an improved browsing experience. Cookies are stored locally on your computer or mobile device and not by BP. To accept cookies continue browsing as normal. You will see this message only once. Privacy Policy

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. See the BP Cookie Policy for more information. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.