Is 14 strikeouts really 14 strikeouts? In an age in which every stat is broken down to the subatomic level, I'm not sure why we take Tommy Hanson's dominant performance as a pure counting stat. There's no doubt that Hanson did what he did, but he also did it against an Astros offense that Drayton McLane must have packed somewhere as he leaves. Would Hanson have been as good against an average team or a good team?
I'm curious whether no-hitters (and, more tellingly, one-hitters) come against good offensive teams or bad. It seems logical that it would be the latter, but there's so much that goes into it, like matchups. Was Hanson a bad fit for the Astros lineup on this day? Did he just have rock solid stuff that would have challenged the best teams? It's not just stats that can't answer this. A call around to some scouts, advance scouts and some front office types got me a bunch of mixed answers, most starting with "Um, uh." We can see and document everything around the game, but there's still a lot we don't know. Tommy Hanson is good; that much we do.
Powered by Amazon's amazing Sunday delivery (literally -- I needed a new power supply), on to the injuries:
Heyward is guilty of nothing more than a dumb quote and looking out for his long term well-being, something teams and teammates often don't do for players. Heyward's talents are among the top in the game, but to reach his potential, he has to be healthy. Trying to play through something isn't usually the best way to do that, right Chipper? Heyward is making progress, hitting without pain over the weekend and setting himself up for a rehab assignment by mid-week. The Braves like to keep things local, so Heyward won't have too far to go no matter where they decide to put him. The question now is how to maintain the pain-free condition, but sources tell me the Braves aren't sure what started all this. There's an element of risk for Heyward, but he has enough talent to be worth that additional toll. Watch to see that his power's returned during rehab and then steal him if you can.
Once you get past all the tired fat jokes surrounding Colon, it's more noticeable that Colon is following a pattern that's been seen before. Colon didn't have Tommy John surgery, but Colon's minor elbow surgery and the distractions of the other procedures done bring to mind something Dr. Frank Jobe said a few years back, that any pitcher would come back from a year of rest and rehab a bit stronger. The worry is that at his age and with his mileage, that the "bump" he's seen in raw stuff would wear down more quickly than in the past.
On Saturday Colon strained his hamstring covering first base, but it's not thought to be very serious. The team placed him on the DL as a precaution and to bring in another pitcher for the short term. In the long run, this rest may actually help, though the Yankees should be happy with the value they've gotten from him so far. The Yankees will patch the rotation in the short term, but don't expect them to rush one of their prospects or get barrel-headed in the trade market just yet. The Yankees did get a plus this weekend as Martin returned to the catcher slot on Sunday. He'd missed several days with some minor lower back stiffness, but it was not spasms. Lower back problems aren't good for someone with a near-term history of hip problems, so look for the Yankees to keep a close and cautious eye on Martin over the near term, something you would think Joe Girardi would be well suited to do.
Aside from Francisco Liriano, some things are getting a little better for the Twins. Mauer is finally feeling "baseball ready", hitting well during his rehab stay in Ft. Myers and getting his legs under him, literally. Over the last week, the focus has been back on those legs, specifically the knee, after some reports of him needing ice after catching had Twins fans worried. Those reports are true, from what I could find, but I was also able to find that Mauer ices his knees pretty regularly, as a matter of routine. It's not unusual among catchers, especially one with the injury history Mauer has. Mauer showed no problems with catching three consecutive games. The team is ready to move him up, likely to AAA Rochester. He'll be eligible to come off the DL this week, but it's more likely that he'll get several games at the higher level to show his swing is ready and to show that he can handle higher level physical demands. It's also notable that all the discussion about Mauer's shoulder quieted this week. Some are wondering if that was an attempt at media distraction.
The Twins should also get Nathan back. He's throwing well and is now down in Ft. Myers. Observers down there say that Nathan's form is looking much more like what he looked like in '09, prior to his Tommy John surgery. It's not that the surgery itself was the issue, but that Nathan just couldn't find his release point. Some mechanical work has him back in the right timing rather than having to alter things. One source said that the lack of pain in his delivery was actually an issue. "[Nathan] had bone chips prior to TJ, don't forget, so he hasn't pitched much without pain. It doesn't sound right, but it's as much of an adjustment to pitch healthy as it is to pitch with pain.
Finally, Morneau had a cortisone injection in his wrist, but there continues to be fluid buildup. He was supposed to meet with a hand specialist over the weekend, though if he did, there's no word on it. (Late word Sunday is that he'll see that specialist, Dr. Thomas Varecka, on Monday.) The Twins seem to think that Morneau will be back in the lineup on Tuesday, but those of you in weekly leagues might want to check the options. The Twins are still concerned that the combination of injuries for Morneau may necessitate a DL stint, "just as a reset" my source told me.
Days after having a minor surgical procedure, Pedroia had three hits and three RBI. That gives him a total of six hits since doctors looked inside his bruised knee. It's not so much a medical miracle as it is a confidence builder (though I do think that Michael Silverman's article on the new HD technology is spot on). Pedroia can play with the pain, clearly, but knowing what the situation is appears to have taken a psychological load off of him. Given how well Pedroia came back and all the positives, I asked a couple team doctors why needle arthroscopies aren't done more often. "The old line is that if you want to do surgery, do an MRI," one said. "This isn't that much better than a good MRI. This is a tougher sell to the player since it is surgery. I don't think the Sox kid's reaction is normal." Pedroia did come back without any delay, which is unusual. Doctors told me that players would normally need a couple days off, as if they'd had a cortisone injection, another procedure involving a big needle. Also, remember that nothing's really changed with Pedroia physically, so we could be reading a lot into a hot streak.
Kemp hit his 20th HR on Sunday, a fact that STATS Inc. says is the earliest a Dodger has ever hit that mark in any single season. That's impressive and gives us an idea that Kemp's pretty healthy. He missed a couple games earlier in the week due to a strained hamstring, but was hitting the ball with power on Saturday and Sunday. It's not something that just goes away, but the Dodgers medical staff must feel like they have a pretty good handle on the situation. Don't confuse early results for a clean bill of health. Instead, watch closely. Kemp's been relatively healthy, so this isn't too big of a worry.
The Rangers continue to cycle through players, relying on their impressive depth to get by. The minor league system they've built isn't the only reason they can take an injury or two and seemingly not miss a beat. The trade for Napoli has been a plus all around and his oblique strain isn't going to change that value. He should miss the minimum, with Michael Young getting a bit more time at DH while Ron Washington rotates things around. The team is far from perfect, and at some point, that depth is going to have to be used to fill in some of the few gaps they have remaining. Napoli shouldn't miss much more than the minimum.
The Giants infield has been struggling to stay healthy all season. Surprisingly, it's been Miguel Tejada and Sanchez who have stayed healthy and at least relatively productive. Now it's just Tejada as Sanchez heads to the DL after dislocating his shoulder. Sanchez has an extensive history of shoulder issues, so it gets even tougher to judge how long he'll be out. The Giants had an MRI done, but maybe Sanchez could use one of those needle arthroscopes on his shoulder. Dislocations are very tough to get a read on. While they are very painful, the issue is really more about any damage done before the injury is reduced. It usually takes a couple days before the inflammation subsides enough to get a good read. That the Giants went out and signed Bill Hall shouldn't be considered a comment on Sanchez's prognosis. As I said before, they really lack depth and have to find it where they can. The ERD is very fluid and probably too optimistic.
Matt Holliday is back with the Cards and is expected to be activated on Thursday ... Kyle McClellan threw a side session and will come off the DL to start for the Cards on Wednesday ... Alfonso Soriano is starting his rehab assignment this weekend. He should be back for the Cubs in the middle of the week. Marlon Byrd's a bit further off, but he is healing up from his scary facial fractures without major complications ... Brian Schneider is about to start a rehab assignment. Getting any sort of catching these days is a big plus. The Phillies are one of few teams that isn't monitoring Bengie Molina's decision on if he'll return ... Jason Hammel says his back problem is minor and that he won't miss a start. It's still risky if you put him in your rotation this week, plus he's a one-start week at home ... Brandon Beachy is making progress from his strained oblique, but he'll need at least a couple rehab starts before he comes back ... Hey it worked for Pedro Martinez ... Aaron Harang will go to the DL as the Padres try to determine what's causing the pain in his push foot ... Rubby De La Rosa might have the best name in baseball right now. He's also got a finger injury. He left Sunday's start, but there were no details on the injury at deadline, so watch this if you were going to have him in next week's lineup ... The Rays' oddly worded the explanation as to why Matt Joyce was sitting -- "post injection soreness" -- but it turns out it was the simple issue of a cortisone injection into his shoulder ... Leonys Martin is showing every skill but health during his time in AA Frisco. He's out for a couple weeks with a herniated disc. So far, he's got a weird stat line, but he's proving he might be the best of the young Cuban defectors ... If you're in NYC this Friday, we're meeting up at Foley's at 7 p.m. ET. Please e-mail me (link above) to let me know you'll be there.