I started my week sitting in the Texas sun, looking up at the scoreboard to see that the gametime temperature was 105. I'm pretty sure I could have made weight at welterweight after three hours of sweating, but sometimes you have to sacrifice for baseball. As we cross the hottest part of the summer, the races in five of the six divisions are almost as hot as an Al Gore summer. That means that some of these races will be decided not by the best pitcher or the hottest hitter, but by which team can avoid or at least minimize injuries. That means the most important names to know might end up being Gene Monahan, Paul Lessard, Ron Porterfield or Herm Schneider. (Go look it up if you don't already know who they are.) I heard Kevin Kennedy say on XM this week that when things are this close, it's the little things that make the difference. I'll argue that health is not one of the little things. Powered by Twitter (where we're @baseballpro), on to the injuries:
I usually have a rule that a player can't lead UTK three days in a row, let alone every day of the week, but I think I'll have to break it. Combine young pitcher with Yankees and you get ratings gold, UTK-style. Chamberlain had his visit with Jim Andrews and came away with a diagnosis of "rotator cuff tendinitis." If you're a bit disappointed with the non-specificity here, you're hardly alone. It not only doesn't tell us much, it doesn't match up with what we know. Worse, it's the same initial diagnosis that was given to Jorge Posada, who was later found to have a rotator cuff tear. Chamberlain didn't have any muscular weakness in tests after he was pulled from his last start and this pain should normally be in a different location. For what it's worth, my sources are saying that there's "mild internal issues" but they wouldn't use the word "damage", even connected to qualifiers or the typical imagery vagueness. I think that's a pretty good sign. What it does match up with something we saw earlier -- the heat in Texas. Of course, it seems the biggest issue is that there's a high degree of distrust when the Yankees report injuries and that's coming up bigger with Chamberlain. If he's not back throwing within two weeks, that's going to be the best indication that something's up, though we really have no idea what his healing time might be. It would be better if the Yankees would step forward and give more information, especially from or through a trusted source like Jim Andrews, instead of leaving teammates to guess and confuse things.
Mark Feinsand knows his stuff, so when his report came out that Andy Pettitte was going to miss a start with arm problems, I started making calls. No one -- and I mean no one -- would say anything besides "I don't know." Pettitte himself came out and said that he felt fine and would make his next start. Is this a case of someone feeding Feinsand bad info or is Pettitte asking us not to pay attention to the history of elbow problems behind the curtains. It appears that the heart of the story is that the Yankees know that Pettitte is fatigued and that his elbow tends to be where the fatigue manifests itself. Skipping a start or finding other ways to get him rest are sure to be discussed, especially as the rest of the rotation is shaky and hoping that one of the young pitchers can get healthy and help. We'll have to keep an eye on this because I think before long, Feinsand will be proven correct.
Big Papi felt a click in his injured wrist. A click doesn't sound like much, but it might be the head of David Ortiz that the Sox have to worry about rather than the wrist. Ortiz, for the first time, is doubting the wrist a bit and that's as bad as it hurting. We'll have to wait and see how the wrist reacts. While you can see in the picture that accompanies Tony Massarotti's article that Ortiz's wrist is often in precisely the position he doesn't want it in, I'm curious about the at-bat with the bad click. He was batting against Joakim Soria and he had a couple foul balls before grounding out to first. I'd bet it was the foul more than the pulled grounder, as it's taking it oppo that should put Ortiz's wrist into the worst position. MLB.com doesn't have the video available as I get this out, but I'm sure my readers will tell me how it looked. Watch to see how Ortiz reacts, both mentally and to the treatment he's sure to get.
Ivan Rodriguez (3 DXL/$0.1m)
David Murphy (25 DXL/$1.0m)
I wish there were a way I could do this more (he says, nudging MLB.com), but watching the collision between Rodriguez and Murphy makes the injury make so much more sense. It's not often that the runner gets the worst of a home plate collision, but as Murphy goes from a slide to a stop in a hurry after hitting the baseball equivalent of a brick wall, the force was transferred into his knee, spraining his posterior cruciate ligament. He'll miss two to four weeks and was lucky, though his knees would have liked it had he just bodyslammed Rodriguez. Rodriguez, for his part, was just shaken up and should miss a game or two while he lets the soreness pass. (Joe Girardi expects him back on Friday.) It was a clean play -- Rodriguez was fielding the ball and Murphy did slide trying to avoid contact -- that very nearly ended the seasons of two key players. The Rangers will shift Brandon Boggs to the starting role in the meantime, while Jose Molina takes over the catching role again for the Yanks.
As expected, Billy Wagner heads to the DL with a recurrent forearm strain in his left arm. The Grade II strain should heal up over the next couple weeks with rest and treatment, but there's some confusion among my sources and advisors about how long it will take him to get back into games. Most tended to think it would be on the shorter end, given the Mets needs. Complicating this are Wagner's reports that he regularly wakes up with a painful, spasming shoulder. If the shoulder is a cascade from the forearm, then getting the elbow healthy should help both. If it's the other way around and the shoulder issue has led to a muscle strain, it's not as clear about how the Mets will treat that. The Mets interim closer situation will also inform their treatment plan, so they're hoping that Eddie Kunz can hold things down for at least a few weeks. Ideally, Wagner would miss about a month recovering and then rehabbing. I'm guessing that it will be somewhere shy of that due to a variety of circumstances.
Chris Duncan isn't the first to have a disc replacement in baseball, but he is the first to have it in his neck (cervical spine.) I recently did an article on the future of sports medicine and disc replacement was one of those "future" things that's coming a lot faster than we expected. Still, this is a serious, even career-threatening injury. Cardinals fans will remember a similar injury that ended Larry Walker's career. Duncan was scheduled for surgery immediately and may have had the surgery on Monday, though I couldn't confirm this. Since the surgery is both new in sports medicine and the vagaries of any surgery, we likely won't have any clue on how this will affect Duncan until spring training at the earliest.
Todd Helton is making no progress. His back is "beat up" according to Keith Dugger, the Rockies trainer, and it looks as if his season is over. The question becomes whether Helton can come back at all or are the Rockies on the hook for the back end of Helton's big deal. Based on what we know, the worst case scenario right now is that he'd need minor back surgery and would miss a couple months, but back surgery tends to have a good return rate. The time off might help Helton, especially if his conditioning picks up along the way. I'm not saying he'll return to an elite level next year and could miss the start of next season if he does need surgery, but this might make him very undervalued in your 2009 draft. Late word that the third in a series of epidural injection helped sounds more like damage control than a positive indicator. (Helton is also one of those interesting cases where his MORP is well below his actual salary level, unlike most players.)
Eric Chavez's season is done and it doesn't seem like it ever started. His shoulder, which was worked on last offseason during the series of surgeries that tried to rebuild Chavez, is "shredded" according to Chavez. The surgery will take a look inside before determining what needs to be done. If it's just the labrum, he should be back in time for spring training, but the indications are that this could be far more serious. Whether or not Chavez can come back is one question; whether he can come back to 3B is yet another in a series of questions about how the last couple expensive years of his contract will look.
The Orioles have placed Adam Jones on the DL with a broken foot, perhaps ending his season. It wasn't everything the O's had hoped for when he was the centerpiece of the trade involving Erik Bedard, but it certainly had promise. Jones fouled a ball off his foot and had been in a walking boot since the weekend before the swelling went down enough to get good images. In the meantime, he'd tried to convince Dave Trembley that he could be available for pinch-hitting. That's tough, sure, but not very smart either. Jones could be back in time to make an appearance before the end of the season, but it's quite likely given the Orioles record that we've seen the last of Jones for 2008.
Chipper Jones is likely to be activated from the DL, but held to a pinch-hitting role, according to the Braves. I doubt that will last long ... Carl Crawford is back in the lineup since the Rays are playing on grass. He says he's at 85%, so don't expect steals ... Reid Brignac, the Rays SS of the future, broke his wrist and is likely done for the season ... Aaron Harang is expected back in the rotation this weekend, though he'll be on an inning limit ... The Dodgers are very close to shutting Jason Schmidt down ... Justin Upton is swinging and should start a rehab assignment early next week ... John Maine is making nice progress, which could keep the Mets from signing Freddy Garcia ... Three teams claimed Livan Hernandez -- the Rockies, the Mets, and the Cardinals ... Yeah, it's football season already, so keep your eyes on the SI Fantasy page for my twice-weekly injury reports. During the preseason, we'll take a position by position look at which injuries should be affecting your draft board.