Baseball continues to search for some sort of explanation regarding the uptick in oblique injuries. Digging through my injury database shows a steep trend up from just seven in 2005 to 22 in '09. As a numbers issue it's clear, but the "why" is powerfully murky.
Perhaps we should be looking to Texas, which hasn't had an oblique injury lead to the DL ... except that the DL isn't always the best indicator. The Rangers lost Alexi Ogando during last year's playoffs to an oblique strain and Tommy Hunter missed time in 2010 Spring Training to an oblique strain. Those are accidents of timing and show the problems of data that we're dealing with on the outside.
Failing an answer from baseball, I looked to research. A
If oblique strains seem viral this spring, appendectomies are now catching a bit. Dunn felt that pain in the lower right quadrant of his abdomen and headed in for surgery. Like Matt Holliday, it was a laproscopic procedure, meaning he could be back in a week to 10 days. The Sox are being a bit optimistic, saying he could be back in five. While Dunn doesn't have to play the field he does have to twist when swings the bat, which will be the worry. Look for him taking BP for an indication when he'll be back. Once the power returns, so will Dunn.
Yankees fans seem to be in a bit of a panic over Hughes' first start, with the focus on his velocity. Hughes was at 89 and as high as 91 during his first stint this season, something that seems to concern new pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Hughes said he'd rather be pitching at 93, a 4 mph jump. That kind of jump isn't something that just happens without some mechanical or health change, but are either of those issues holding Hughes back? Trying to take as much of an apples-to-apples look as possible, I looked back at the start Hughes made against the Tigers on
You read that ERD right -- and I'm being a bit conservative. Sources told me on Tuesday that Holliday could be back in the Cards lineup as soon as Friday after having a laproscopic appendectomy
Drew's abdominal strain is low on his abdomen, an uncomfortable area for any man, let alone one who makes his living twisting and bending the way an MLB shortstop has to with almost every activity. The injury is serious enough that he can't play through it, but not so serious that it can really be considered more than day-to-day. The willingness to play a man down and save days is a strength of this medical staff. Say, for instance, that Drew is ready to come back after seven days -- that saves eight games of his production. And given that his replacement is Willie Bloomquist, that's worth about a third of a win, assuming last year's values. That doesn't sound like much, but small things like that can add up. There's still no real ERD on this because it's truly day-to-day. Watch the lineups.
The Marlins are being very conservative with Stanton, who's on his second leg strain of the young season. They're leaving him on the active roster due to off-days and his ability to pinch hit. Sources tell me Stanton's power is not affected since he's "so strong in his upper body," but any good hitting coach will tell you power comes from the legs. Until Stanton is showing us power, I have to be at least a bit skeptical. The Marlins are being smart, making sure that Stanton's not going to reinjure himself in any manner, recurrence or cascade. His fantasy owners would be smart to be as patient.
I watched the Opening Day game at the Trop to see what the new turf looked like. For some reason, the turf looks terrible on TV. That's relatively meaningless, but I've wondered in the past if there's some mental block for players. I've stood on that turf, and in prior years, it wasn't very soft. The new turf looks the same, but I'm told it's slightly softer. It might not be enough for Damon, their new LF, who is already having some knee soreness due to the turf. They may need to sub him out during homestands, maybe swapping him and Manny Ramirez, which would be a big defensive hit. The more likely beneficiary would be Felipe Lopez, who would take 2B while Ben Zobrist shifted to LF. This is definitely worth watching for Damon, but be aware of opposing who have knee or foot issues, such as Carlos Quentin and Grady Sizemore, who'll have trips to the Trop in the next two months.
He's not jogging. GM Ruben Amaro made that clear after a
Fantasy owners who jumped after Jon Rauch haven't been rewarded. Through the first three games, they hadn't needed a closer and Rauch barely saw the field. That said, a game like Tuesday's highlighted the weakness in John Farrell's current bullpen as he had to go six deep to get the extra inning win. After Jo-Jo Reyes didn't last four innings, Farrell mixed and matched pretty well, but adding Francisco and Dotel should strengthen them by pushing good pitchers forward. I wonder if it would have changed the mix of long and short relievers, but that's a problem for another day. Francisco is close to heading out on a rehab assignment now that the minor leagues are starting up. It's expected to be quick and focused, though it's likely that he'll do it in the low minors and start. Low, because it's not that warm in Syracuse or New Hampshire right now. Starting, because they want to make sure he gets his one inning and gets his treatments. The Jays still have Dotel in Florida and he won't join the team until next week. Even then, its unclear now whether he'll also head on a more advanced rehab, but it looks like they think he can slot back in since his arm is unaffected.
Cashner hasn't followed the normal path to the majors. The Cubs drafted him out of college, where he'd been used as a closer. They converted him to a starter, a bizarro path to the normal one, but it worked. The Cubs thought all along that Cashner had the arm and the potential stamina to succeed as a starter and by taking a rotation slot this spring, they were proven right in one sense. But after he left his first start with a sore shoulder, they left the other big question wide open: Can Cashner stay healthy as a starter? Since Cashner was pitching well, we have to assume that it was serious enough for him to signal to the trainers. There's no word yet on the specifics or the severity. The Cubs are also already dealing with Pena missing time. His injured thumb is a mild sprain, one that should take a matter of days before it's comfortable again. Pena's issue is gripping and holding the bat at this point, and given past hand problems, the Cubs are smart to be fairly conservative with him. The Cubs have an off-day Thursday, so if they hold him out on Wednesday, they're buying him time to heal up.