I know that the UTK Wrap confuses some people, not grasping that it's a recap of the week's injuries. Today, I'll confuse you more. With the season heading into it's final weekend of the regular season, there are too many situations where an injury may affect the outcome of a playoff race, how a team preps for the playoffs, or who wins a fantasy league to just recap the week that was. No, this is a full-on UTK, just like we had each week this season. Part of this job is just showing up every day, because if you don't follow the daily patterns and flow of injuries and rehabs, you'll miss something. Thanks to everyone that's made this, the seventh year of UTK, one of the best. Powered by an e-mail I sent to three friends on an April afternoon in 2002 that has become this, on to the injuries:
(Note: DXL is "Days eXpected Lost", or how many days I am estimating the player will lose.)
Slowey took a sharp comebacker off his pitching wrist during his Thursday start. It was one of those nasty, unlucky moments that just happen for pitchers sometimes. He may have gotten off lightly, with his team winning despite his costly throwing error and without any fractures. While Slowey was expected to be the No. 4 starter for the Twins in the playoffs, the team may have to go with a three-man rotation in the Division Series or hope that the rapidly fatiguing Glen Perkins can put up one good start. There's some time between now and the time Slowey would be expected to start, but there's the chance that Ron Gardenhire would leave Slowey off the LDS roster altogether, since many point to a fading rotation that's never gone this deep.
Yovani Gallardo went 67 pitches and if anyone saw a problem with his knee, I'd love to hear about it. I spoke with three people who I consider pitching "gurus" within the game and every one of them asked me if this was normal, if ACL surgery has become so routine that this is now probable, not even plausible. The answer is simple: yes. It's unusual in baseball, but even so there's the Milton Bradley comparable to work with. Gallardo showed a normal motion, no real change in his mechanics, normal velocity in line with both his '07 and '08 averages on all his pitches, and certainly solid results for his first work in nearly a complete season. There's very little to say other than giving proper kudos to Gallardo and to the medical staff for what looks miraculous, but is actually the product of hard work. The interesting thing is that Gallardo now sets up to be the one-game playoff pitcher, if necessary. How's that for a return?
Jerry Manuel told the press that "Manuel said he's old school and doesn't like throwing a young arm out there if there's a problem." (Hat tip to the LoHud.) OK, what the bleep? I really want to use words here that go beyond the objective tone of a journalist, but this is simply unfathomable. If Manuel had better options, if the Mets hadn't won in such dramatic fashion on Thursday, and if the Mets don't end up making the playoffs, this is one of those small but important decisons that can make or break things. It's not the decision -- there were hundreds, thousands along the course of the season that were just as important. Throughout the season and with every team, there are decisions made that I don't understand, but usually there's some explanation behind them with logic, that fits with a plan, or involves factors that aren't public. With this, those assumptions have been thrown out to a manager's capriciousness. If Maine simply cannot pitch due to pain -- something his bullpen work shows is possible -- than there's no reason to activate him as a "reward." To not use an available pitcher, assuming he's a credible option, is malpractice.
Percival got back on the mound and made it through a scoreless inning. It wasn't dominating, but it was good. One down, one to go. Percival will have to get back on the mound Friday in order to prove to the Rays that he can go back to back days. Of course, they may tax him over the weekend too, a bit of a stress test before they have to turn their roster into the league offices. Percival isn't likely to close unless something changes, though he's in the mix with Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler for the high-leverage situations. How the team uses David Price, if at all, in the playoffs remains to be seen, though there's no indication that they'll use him in the late innings. If Percival isn't able to go today or shows no effectivness, he'll be off the roster for the Division Series.
Lowell continues to fight through pain and swelling in his hip. The torn acetabular labrum will need surgical repair, but the Sox medical staff is working to keep him not healthy, but functional through the playoffs. There's almost no chance he'll be able to play in every game and will be affected by it, but the Sox's flexibility, or rather that of Kevin Youkilis, helps here. Lowell can take days off and will be further helped by the expansion of off-days in the new playoff calendar. When Lowell has surgery, it does have a long enough recovery period that the start of '09 might be in some question, but Lowell tend to heal quickly and has certainly overcome longer odds in his career. He might have the highest production to appearances in UTK ratio in history.
Joe Torre has told Jeff Kent that if he can't play the field, he won't make the playoff roster. With Rafael Furcal already a big question mark, the Dodgers simply can't afford two dead roster spots. It's a tough situation for Kent, who will try to show this weekend that he can go. The downside here is that sources tell me that Kent would shut things down if he doesn't make the Division Series roster rather than continue to rehab. This may be at the direction of the team or at least Torre, but with Kent leaning toward retirement after this season, we may not have truck washing and mustache jokes for much longer. Kent's going to end up one of those players that we look back on in 20 years and wonder why he wasn't more appreciated. I can only hope Google's around to archive his attitude.
DeRosa will sit out through the rest of the season to rest his strained calf. The Cubs are playing it safe with their versatile player after he injured it mid-week. Called a moderate strain, the team seems to be more worried about DeRosa's ability to play the field more than they are his hitting. With nearly a week to rest, they expect him to be ready when the Cubs face ... well, we don't know quite yet who they'll face. It does complicate some decisions the Cubs will have to make since DeRosa's ability to play so many positions is the key to much of the team's flexibility. With the clinch, the Cubs can try to figure those out, though Lou Piniella's team won't lay down against the Brewers this weekend.
I got to see Morgan play a good bit here in Indianapolis and if there's one thing you notice about him, it's the speed. Victory Field has huge alleys, but with Morgan and the even-speedier Andrew McCutcheon, fly balls to the gap never seemed to find the ground. Anyway, you have to love a speedy guy who refers to himself as "Ny-Mo" in interviews. While Morgan didn't do a ton in his time in Pittsburgh, he was hitting and grabbing a couple steals here and there. A hamstring strain ends his season, but it's not considered serious. Morgan will be one of a collection of outfielders looking to get the fourth outfielder gig in Pittsburgh next season, a team that figures to look significantly different when they report to Bradenton.
Ben Sheets made it through a bullpen session, but no one thinks he'll make his start on Saturday ... Mariano Rivera has been shut down for the season. Everyone is insisting this is just precautionary ... Chien-Ming Wang is making nice progress with his foot, progressing to running. He's expected to be back at full strength well ahead of spring training ... Mike Mussina will pitch Sunday as he tries to win 20 games for the first time in his career ... I'm not sure if Jake Peavy's 53-pitch inning is the highest this season, but it has to be up there ... Marlon Byrd is being shut down. He'll have minor knee surgery next week ... Todd Helton's back surgery went well. He's expected to be at full strength by spring training.