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Under The Knife: Mets staff works to get Reyes back up to speed

Three times before, I've run into Ryne Sandberg. Sandberg, the guy who was on my bedroom wall, hasn't reduced in my mind. As I stood feet away from him at Victory Field in Indianapolis, his grey hair peeking out from under an IronPigs cap, I felt 14 years old again. Sandberg looked like he could have walked out on the field and played, but instead, he's shifted his mindset to wanting to make it back to the major leagues the same way he got there as a player, by earning it. He didn't quite sneer when I asked him about the path Joe Girardi had taken to the manager's job, but Sandberg isn't someone that wants things given to him. While his fans will always picture him with a Cubs hat on, he's a Phillie now. Then again, I'm a writer now because Sandberg made me fall in love with baseball, watching cable in 1984. I was never going to be the player he was, but the passion he had -- and still has -- transferred to me in the same way he's trying to teach players like Domonic Brown. I stood in the dugout and finally got the words out, telling my hero, "You're why I love baseball." Powered by a memory that will last a lifetime, on to the injuries:

The Mets will send Reyes on a rehab assignment, but it won't be quite as quick as I'd thought. Reyes will head upstate to Binghamton (AA) and spend the weekend there. The team wants to see him in "game situations", meaning they want to see the hamstring hold up doing normal baseball things rather than just drills and "safe situations," according to a source. Part of this is getting Reyes back and ready to play through September, but it's also part of what the Mets are quietly calling an audition. It's not Reyes auditioning, but instead the team showing that they know how to get Reyes back comfortably, in a way no other team is going to be able to do. The much-maligned Mets staff has improved its stats each of the last two seasons, showing as solidly mid-pack this season. Reyes' comfort with the Mets staff is thought to be a big deciding factor if their offer to him is competitive. Reyes is expected back at the start of next week and Reyes knows he'll need to show he can stay healthy and fast over the next month to maximize his big new contract.

The Phillies are seemingly spending August trying to keep enough players healthy to keep their momentum. Losing Jimmy Rollins for three weeks isn't going to help. Rollins has a Grade II strain of his groin, though sources tell me it's on the lower end of the grading -- "Grade I plus, II minus if there were such a thing," my source said with a laugh. Rollins should be able to keep up his conditioning, but there won't be a rehab assignment. It's more likely that Rollins will head to Clearwater to work at the complex before he comes back. The Phillies also placed Cole Hamels on the DL, though it's a roster move. Hamels will be able to come back as soon as Sunday, but with the team's injury situation, they wanted to have more options this week. There's no setback for Hamels, even if he doesn't come back on Sunday. "They'll fit him back in there where he'll work best," I was told. "Putting him between Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee makes sense." Putting Hamels between those two would likely keep the bullpen well rested, separating the two guys -- Hamels and Roy Oswalt -- that Charlie Manuel is watching for workload issues. Finally, it doesn't look like Jose Contreras will be back. There's been a lot of back and forth, with dueling leaks, but Contreras' latest throwing session did not go well.

Someone's going to draw a comparison between Tommy Hanson coming up sore after his bullpen session on Monday and the issues that Josh Johnson had after he went on the DL. This isn't nearly that negative, but young pitchers and shoulder problems are something that has to be taken seriously, even when it's minor. The Braves are backing off Hanson's current schedule and will take things slowly. This ends his Saturday rehab start and makes a return next week unlikely. How long it will be depends on how long it takes the medical staff to get the soreness out and then to determine what's causing it. Until we have that, I'm pulling the ERD back to TBD. There's just not enough information, but take this as a mid-range negative.

Alex Rodriguez came back from knee surgery and has shown no real issues. Unfortunately, he injured his thumb diving for a grounder and is now day-to-day with a sprain. He's not expected to miss much time, but it does give the team a chance to evaluate how his knee is responding. Things look good, I'm told, and Joe Girardi doesn't believe he'll need anything beyond the occasional day off. If the Yankees can keep Eric Chavez healthy, they can use Rodriguez at DH as well. Rodriguez will be meeting with MLB over his poker games later this week as well, but the Yankees are used to dealing with Rodriguez's off-field distractions.

As expected, the Nats have accelerated Stephen Strasburg as his rehab clock ticks. After a good outing Monday, he'll move to Syracuse (AAA) for his next start Saturday. He'll make no more than two more starts in the minors, perhaps just one ... Adrian Beltre ran well on Monday and will amp things up in the next few days. He could head to Frisco (AA) as soon as this weekend ... Carlos Beltran was activated, but wasn't in the starting lineup on Tuesday. The Giants put Jonathan Sanchez on the DL in the corresponding move ... David Ortiz went through his normal routine on Tuesday and is expected back on Wednesday. His heel is "completely fine now" ... J.D. Drew will head out on a rehab assignment and will be back when rosters expand September 1 ... B.J. Upton's shoulder injury is minor and he should be back this week ... Colby Rasmus jammed his wrist on Tuesday. No word on severity yet ... Grady Sizemore will head out on a rehab assignment this weekend after knee issues and groin surgery. He'll be close to home, either in Akron (AA) or Columbus (AAA) ... Travis Hafner may need surgery on his strained foot. He's been dealing with it all season, but his most recent issue is "by far the worst." The decision will be made by the weekend ... Kevin Correia hits the DL with a strained oblique. He's likely to be back in mid-September, if only to protect some of the young Pirates starters ... Great article by Tom Verducci. I agree with everything but don't understand why this is always considered all or nothing. Joe Mauer could easily DH a couple days a week and still catch half-time, assuming his legs hold up ... Nice article by Nick Zaccardi reminds me why an Olympic style testing program won't work for American professional sports. You think any of the players in this report want to be forced to use the "Whereabouts" program, one that has leaks enough to be paparazzi bait? I think not. Worse, in talking with people over the last few days, the hGH test they're crowing about is about to have a hole blasted in it. I'll have more soon.

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