My dog Simon didn't sit by my chair for every single UTK written. I started this column, this idea, this mission, in April of 2002 and I didn't get Simon until August. He tested every inch of my patience then -- new puppies and panic attacks don't mix -- but he ended up being an amazing dog. Each night, he'd trot out, take up his place next to the desk, and be my sounding board. He'd give me looks when I was up too late. He'd beg for a treat if I made too many calls. He'd wait patiently for me to go to bed, snoring to remind me that I, too, needed sleep.
Simon had the canine equivalent of ACL surgery a couple years back. When Wes Welker talked about coming back quickly from his surgery, I scoffed. Simon was walking within days and running within weeks. By the time Welker was playing in games, Simon was running in the yard. If I didn't tell you he'd had surgery, you'd have never known that he had a Kevlar cord in his leg instead of a ligament. We all think we have the best dog in the world and the great thing is that we're all right.
He wasn't here for this one. Simon was diagnosed with cancer last week. By Saturday, he was reduced to tumors and the indomitable personality that barely acknowledged how sick he was. There's so much we can learn from pets, but the most important I learned from him was that there's a value in showing up everyday. I'm not the best writer in the world, but I'm here, every day, doing the work. I just won't have Simon by my side anymore, but I'll remember how he showed up -- happy just to be there, hoping for a treat, living in the moment. This column was and always will be better because he was here. I'm forever powered by his memory.
Now, on to the injuries:
Platelet-rich therapy seems to be working for Crawford. The minor tear in his UCL has healed enough that he's throwing again, but there's enough of an issue that the Red Sox are working hard to change Crawford's throwing motion. In the short term, Boston thinks Crawford's elbow is fragile enough that he'll have to do things significantly differently. This situation is analogous to what Albert Pujols went through early in his career. He was forced from 3B and went to LF. The Cardinals would run the SS out deep on cutoffs to preclude long throws altogether, even at a slight defensive cost. The Sox could do the same thing, though the short LF at Fenway will limit things a bit. Crawford's slightly ahead of schedule with this rehab. The wrist hasn't been an issue at all, so there's a small silver lining.
After hearing from team doctor George Paletta and Kerlan-Jobe's Lewis Yocum, Garcia's diagnosis has shifted from the vague "impingement" to a more specific strained rotator cuff and frayed labrum. That's a bad combination for any pitcher, let alone one with a history of elbow injuries. Despite this, Garcia has an appointment with Jim Andrews for Monday. Garcia doesn't seem confident he'll be able to avoid surgery, which would end his season, but the Cardinals, for now, say he'll be shut down for the next four weeks and will be re-assessed at that point. Garcia told Joe Strauss that his shoulder has felt "weak and tight" all season, which is another bad sign. Fantasy owners might not want to drop Garcia just yet, but the replacement plan is going to need to be more than a temporary patch.
Cabrera missed the weekend with a strained hamstring. He's expected back for the Astros series this week, but the Giants will be cautious with him, especially given what we've seen with injury recurrences lately. Cabrera has been a huge surprise for the Giants offense since coming over from Kansas City, which is working as a data point against the Royals front office. A team can't hang it's hat on scouting prowess, then misjudge a trade so badly. Swapping Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez is nothing more than a miss. It happens, but insiders are telling me that Dayton Moore and his team are running out of excuses and credibility with ownership. This process may come to an end soon, with some suggesting that Moore could be out by the All-Star break.
Before he arrived, no one questioned Cespedes' talent. It's obvious. Unfortunately, the one thing he seems to lack is health. It was never tested in Cuba the way it has been in MLB because of the differences in season and competition. Another hamstring issue kept him sidelined over the weekend and will be tested in batting practice. Another DL stint remains possible, though it appears that Cespedes will be back mid-week. When Cespedes left a game last week with another leg injury, I was reminded of this issue and the possible upside.
Perhaps the best comp for Cespedes, physically and talent-wise, is Josh Hamilton. In Hamilton's first year, his health was the major question. He missed a significant amount of time with a wrist injury, but as a Rule 5 pick, the Reds were following pattern by stashing him on the DL. Cespedes might not have the same apparent risks, but physically, I can see these kind of minor injuries holding down Cespedes' value in his first year before he adjusts and explodes. I'm still not convinced Cespedes is that good, but if you are, there might still be a chance to grab him in keeper leagues.
The ankle joint itself is the issue, with the synovial lining swelling up. That's usually the result of bone spurs or chips, making it very difficult to tell how this will progress. He will miss at least one start. Getting the inflammation down is just the first step. The Braves will have to work to manage this, a difficult and unpredictable process. Given Hudson's recent injury history, age and the perception that he is likely to retire after this season, he may be more willing to push through than others. The Braves used Julio Teheran for a spot start, but after he lasted only four innings, he was optioned back, adding to the perception that the Braves expect Hudson back for his next start.
Bob Klapisch had an interesting question after Santana followed up his no-hitter with a bad outing -- was it rest or rust? We won't have an answer until Santana has a couple more outings, but we do know that no-hitters have a higher "pitch cost." But we don't have to guess about things like this in 2012; PitchFX data shows us that Santana had similar velocity, similar movement, but the release point is further to the left. On this video, where Santana gave up three homers to the Yankees, his push foot is in the middle of the rubber on two of the three, moving over to the third base side on the last one. Looking at his no-hitter, his foot appears to be locked in on the third base side. It could be something that simple. I'm not sure what we can infer about Santana's shoulder surgery in this. He's sui generis -- the one pitcher to seemingly come back to level, albeit with adjustments. The early answer on Santana is that we just don't know, but even getting this far is a testament to his surgeons, Santana's work ethic and pitching smarts, and the Mets medical staff. Between Santana and Carlos Beltran's continuing function, the Mets staff deserves to have that fluke '08 campaign in their rear view mirror.
Greinke is dominant at home, and on Friday, I asked whether or not a schedule could be created to maximize this effect. It turns out to be easier than I thought. Reader Craig Birkenmeier dug in and came up with this:
June: 13 at KC, 18 vs. TOR, 24 at CWS, 30 vs. ARI
July: 5 vs. MIA, 13 vs. PIT (1st game after All-Star break), 18 vs. STL, need a spot starter so he can be pushed back to 26 vs. WAS, 31 vs. HOU
August: 6 vs. CIN, 12 at HOU, 17 vs. PHI, 22 vs. CHC, 27 at CHC
September: 1 vs. PIT, 6 at MIA, 11 vs. ATL, 16 vs. NYM, 22 at WAS, 28 vs. HOU
October: 3 vs. SD
Totals: 16 home starts, 6 road starts
According to Craig, there would be only one move that needs to be made, hardly a hardship on the Brewers or their pitchers. Rainouts could be an issue, but given that they play in a dome, it shouldn't be as much as issue as it could be for other teams.
Kevin Millwood's groin strain was serious enough to get him out of what became a combined no-hitter. It doesn't look serious enough to keep him out of his next start. If he's healthy and effective for a month, he'll be a very valuable trade chip for Jack Zduriencik ... The Rangers are smartly buying Yu Darvish an extra day of rest here and there. He's scheduled to get an extra day this week, though Alexi Ogando, just shifted to the rotation, injured his groin running to first on a tapper. The Rangers will have to consider accelerating Roy Oswalt and shifting the rotation (again) if Ogando has to miss a start ... Matt Holliday is dealing with back spasms. They're painful, but not considered serious ... It's the same thing for Bryce Harper. His back is just "tight," but insiders have told me the one hole in Harper's game is conditioning. "He's not out of shape," said one evaluator last week, "it's that he plays so hard that he has to be in even better shape" ... One more? Sure, it does seem at times that injuries are viral. Carlos Zambrano left Saturday's start with lower back stiffness. The Marlins won't make any decisions on Zambrano until Tuesday ... David Robertson threw a clean inning in his work at Scranton (AAA). He'll have one more outing before rejoining the Yankees pen. He'll be in front of Rafael Soriano and probably used in a couple lower leverage situations during the first week ... Hideki Kuroda left his start after getting hit in the ankle with a comebacker. Nothing worse than a bruise, though they'll watch his side session closely to make sure he's ready for his next outing ... Brett Gardner had another major setback with his elbow. At best, he'll be back at the All-Star break, but there are questions about returning at all ... The news on Freddy Galvis' back injury is about as bad as it gets. He was diagnosed with a pars fracture and could miss the rest of the season ... Pablo Sandoval returned to the Giants lineup Saturday after recovering from hamate surgery. Watch to see how quickly his power returns. Last year, it came back pretty quickly ... Stephen Drew hit a homer in his second game at Reno (AAA). The D'backs think he could need the full 20 days of rehab, which flies in the face of what Ken Kendrick says last week ... The Rangers ran some scans on Derek Holland's shoulder as a precaution. As expected, they came back pretty clean ... Mark Teixeira's lingering cough problem is the result of nerve damage in his larynx. He'll be fine long term, but does help explain his even slower than normal start ... Chipper Jones was activated Sunday and appears to have healed up from his calf strain ... The Dodgers are being very aggressive behind the scenes, with Ned Colletti pushing to acquire some offense ahead of the All-Star break. Kevin Youkilis, Carlos Quentin and free agent Cuban Jorge Soler are just a few of the players they're looking at ... Kyle Farnsworth will head south to start a rehab assignment at Charlotte (A). The Rays aren't going to rush at all with Fernando Rodney locked in to the closer role ... Ryan Kalish is 10-for-16 with 3 homers on his rehab assignment. It's ending soon so he could be a nice pickup in deeper leagues ... Brian Bogusevic pitched for the Astros on Thursday night during a 14-2 loss. He's a converted pitcher who of course makes me wonder what others we could see. Would Rick Ankiel be good for an inning? How about someone like Adam Jones, who has a great arm and was considered a better pitching prospect by some? Sadly, baseball continues not to believe in even the limited usage of two-way players.