Under The Knife: Mets staying in contention thanks to medical staff
The Mets are contenders at the All-Star break. While that soaks in, let's focus on one big reason why. The Mets rotation is made up of two post-surgical shoulders, a knuckler who requires regular injections of Toradol to be functional, and two pitchers who haven't exactly been injury-free through their young careers.
Trainer Rey Ramirez and his staff have caught more than their fair share of flak since an inexplicable 2008 season that has to be some sort of record for dollars lost to the DL and for bad luck. They've been better every year, despite a lot of accepted risk and injury-prone players like Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay. Remember, Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta have had a chance to look at every inch of this operation. They made a lot of changes, but they changed nothing -- not one thing -- about the medical staff. I talk a lot about results here, because that's what we can measure and quantify in terms of on-field results. It hardly tells the whole story. Some teams like the Yankees accept a ton of risk, knowing that one injury hardly wrecks their depth. Every team's medical staff is among the best of the best, even when they've had a year like what the Mets and Ramirez had a few years back. Whether this team wins this year or not, the work of Ramirez and his staff should remind us all that we should always look deeper than wins, losses, and dollars.
It's no secret that Zimmerman has been struggling this season, fighting off a chronic shoulder injury. The difference is that Zimmerman's team is finally heading into the second half of a season in contention. That changes the context and the care. Instead of thinking that they can get him through for a while and shut him down early, the Nats medical staff has to think a bit longer term. Zimmerman had an
In Tuesday's game at Lehigh Valley, Utley went 2-for-4 with a homer, playing all nine innings and making a couple plays in the field. He didn't have any noticeable issues, though his range and speed were never really tested in this game. Josh Whetzel, the voice of the Rochester Red Wings, called the homer "towering" and added that Utley looked "spry," even making a couple of good charges on the ball. If there is any worry, it's that Utley had two strikeouts. Whetzel said one of them was a tough call, but the other was a chase up, so it may be a bit of a positive -- perhaps Utley is still off on recognition. Utley is expected back in the Phillies lineup on Wednesday, and if Tuesday is any indication, fantasy players want to put him right back in the lineup. Utley is sure to get occasional days off to keep the knees fresh, but last year's return didn't come with as many off days as expected.
Bob Elliott, the Hall of Famer writer from Toronto, has a lot of facts and figures in
It was a bit of a surprise when Bobby Valentine
On the pitching side, even the good news has an asterisk. Beckett threw a side session on Monday and came out of it saying he felt good, but there's no decision yet on when or how he'll slot back into the rotation. The team is currently juggling things to deal with new and returning players, so while Beckett could be back on Friday, it remains to be seen whether that will happen. Regardless, sources tell me that Beckett will be on a strict, "surprisingly low" pitch limit in his first start back. I couldn't get more info on where the "surprisingly low" mark was set, but fantasy players might want to let Beckett's first start go. The Sox also announced that Buchholz was suffering from erosive esophagitis, a common and controllable situation. He should be out only the minimum.
The good news is that Avila doesn't have a so-called "structural problem" in his knee. The downside is that he has an advanced case of tendinitis in the knee. (The downside for me? Having to go through another discussion of "tendinitis" vs. "tendonitis" with nitpickers.) Actually, Avila's case is severe enough to verge on tendinosis. Tendinosis is the more chronic version and can require surgery if there's enough deterioration in the fibers. It can be managed, but Avila's not likely to hold at the catcher position very long dealing with something like this. The Tigers have dealt with this before, with Victor Martinez, so expect a similar plan.
Byrd was busted for the use of a defined PED, in violation of the joint drug agreement. That's the standard part, but there are three interesting notes on top of the basics. First and most notably, Byrd was a client of Victor Conte, who ran BALCO. Conte has been focused more on boxing and working with VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency), which conducts tests in boxing and MMA. Byrd
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