It's a very simple happy birthday to my father to start off today's column. I grew up in training rooms and locker rooms, watching him do what he does best. I was never going to be in his class, but in a roundabout manner found my own path to the same place. His influence is in every column you read here. He's still teaching sports medicine, spreading his influence through every sports league and even around the world. So happy birthday, Dad. Now, let's get to the injuries:
The situation surrounding Ramirez seems to have more to do with Jack McKeon than it does Ramirez's shoulder. Ramirez hasn't healed up as fast as originally expected after injuring his shoulder on an awkward fielding play, leaving McKeon a man down (and a star down) longer than he likes. The decision was made to push Ramirez to the DL with a retro move, meaning he could be back next week. All signs point to this move costing Ramirez as much as five games that he could have played, but the Marlins have made strange moves all year long as they continue to focus on opening their new stadium. Sources tell me that a winning September is a big organizational goal in order to hit the free agent market this offseason with one more reason to come to Miami.
Is it likely -- even possible -- that Wainwright will pitch in October? That might depend more on the rest of the team than Wainwright. The Cards ace has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and is six months post at this point. With two months to go, his return would be the quickest on record for a pitcher, but remember that part of this is timing. Wainwright was hurt early in spring training and would only be ready in mid-October. (Theoretically, he could throw in a game earlier, but he would not be game ready before mid-October.) Without that fluke of timing, it wouldn't be possible. We don't know whether someone hurt in April could come back in December, since there's no baseball in December and, therefore, no motivation to push things. Wainwright has contractual motivation (as the Cardinals could decline options for the next two seasons if he remains on the DL) on top of wanting to be out there with his team for a playoff push.
There's little chance he could return as a starter this year and it's unlikely we'll see him in a rehab start unless one of the Cards minor league teams goes deep into their own playoffs. (This is possible, with several of their teams already qualified or within five games, according to @nbaliva.) The downside here is that we might not see what could have been, leaving us guessing about what Wainwright and the state-of-the-art might actually be.
The Cardinals went into Thursday's game with the Brewers hoping to avoid a sweep, salvaging a little something out of a key series. They did it without Holliday in the starting lineup, as he was shelved by back spasms. Holliday might have been available as a pinch hitter -- sources disagreed -- but he was not used, available or not. The problem is thought to be minor, and with Lance Berkman available, they could rest Holliday. The two will spell each other from time to time over the next few weeks as the team tries to keep both as close to 100 percent as possible. Holliday's taken a lot of wear and tear this season, fighting through small but serious injuries for most of the year. His 2012 projections probably will undervalue him, not taking that into account.
The Cardinals training room is filling up, with Lynn, their young swingman heading to the DL with a severely strained oblique. There's early speculation that the Cardinals won't push Lynn to come back for the last week or two of the season. It's not so much a rest issue -- Lynn is well below where a workload worry would come in, and the Cards closely monitor these issues -- but one of smartly taking success and not pushing for more. Lynn has a history of heavy workloads but he's been handled quite well since coming into the Cards organization. I'm not quite ready to say that Lynn is done for the season, but it's leaning that way. (Lynn's more likely a rotation arm, but his use in the pen suggests he could succeed in the closer role. His high school teammate, Drew Storen, does pretty well in that role himself.)
The word is that Morneau will be activated on Friday, with his .409 average at Rochester (AAA) telling the Twins that he's ready. OK, it's 22 at-bats for Morneau, and if the Twins needed confirmation that Morneau is a good hitter against AAA pitching, maybe we should be more worried than we are about the Twins organization. Morneau showed no effects of the neck/shoulder issue that surgery was meant to correct, so things are looking good. With two all-but-lost seasons for Morneau, he's likely going to be a bit undervalued next spring, the way Jose Reyes was this year. A hot last couple months could change that, but if you didn't know he was a good hitter when healthy, I'm worried about you.
Phillips just got over a sprained ankle, only to wake up with a swollen elbow. Phillips tweeted that it "looked like a balloon" and was worried it was broken. (I love Twitter sometimes.) Phillips had an X-ray that showed it was nothing more than a bruise, though the speculation is that there may have been a bursa issue since there was significant swelling. As long as there's no infection or structural issue, Phillips should be back by early next week, as he's indicated to the media. The Reds will play a man down, knowing that losing further games out of Phillips if he went to the DL would pull them further out of contention.
The Rays aren't calling it "thoracic outlet syndrome," but what Cobb is going through is close enough that calling it a "blockage" is semantics. Cobb will have surgery to remove a portion of his first rib to clear the way for blood vessels and nerves. It's serious surgery, but there have been enough pitchers that have had it and come back well that the Rays can have confidence Cobb should be able to come back next season and slide back into the rotation. The problem showed up as blood clots in his pitching hand and some tingling, so finding the issue quickly was great news. Cobb is done for the season, but the Rays have plenty of pitchers they can audition for what is going to be a very crowded back of the rotation in next year's camp.
Carlos Beltran is expected back on Sunday, but the Giants still don't sound confident about how his hand is progressing ... Alex Rodriguez is scheduled for a simulated game on Saturday. He's getting closer ... Zack Cozart is having Tommy John surgery after his hyperextension damaged his elbow and ultimately ended his season. He'll be ready for spring training ... Huston Street isn't quite ready to take the ball yet, but the Rockies think his sore triceps will clear up by the weekend. "A couple days" usually translates to "we think the anti-inflammatories will kick in." Did you know character Jason Street, the QB on Friday Night Lights, was named for Street's father? ... Chris Narveson needed eight stitches to close up a gash on his pitching hand. That'll teach him to try to fix his own glove. He'll miss at least one start ... Michael Brantley will miss some more time as the Indians medical staff tries to get ahead of his wrist issue. There's still a small chance he could end up on the DL ... I've said before that I'd never abandon you in the midst of the fantasy season. I'll be here every M-W-F through the end of the regular season. You deserve no less.