Under The Knife: Prior works way back, but maybe not for long
As teams make -- or at least try to make -- deals at the deadline, it's important to remember that they're buying the future. No one knows what's going to happen six or seven years out for anyone. Mark Prior is proof of that. It's been nine years since Mark was standing out on a La Jolla ball field, playing catch while my photographer took pictures of his mechanics. No one expected the twists and turns of Prior's career to end up with him in Pawtucket in 2012, but he's there. One fluke collision, a couple seasons of heavy workloads, and several shoulder surgeries later, Prior is only now getting back to being a serviceable pitcher. He never got the big contract that his friend (and throwing partner back in La Jolla) Cole Hamels just got, but he seems to be enjoying baseball again.
Due to commitments, I wasn't able to catch up with Mark, but writer Michael Raines did and had
Prior told him he's still getting used to being a reliever but has been impressed by how the Red Sox take care of their guys and "put them in positions to get on the field and to succeed. Still, he isn't sure he will return next year. "I haven't got that far, you know? Honestly, I'm just worried about day-to-day, more or less. I want to finish the year out strong, wherever that is. And then, you know, just re-evaluate at the end of the year like I've done every year, see where I'm at and see what I've done and where I can improve and what opportunities are out there." Prior's earned the chance and his stuff could work in the Boston pen. Prior's an object lesson for a lot of people, but he's still just a guy who doesn't really like the attention. All in all, a worthwhile read.
Powered by Cindy, who bought two bats at the Newberg auction, on to the injuries:
It's apparently going to take more than a knee operation and a calf strain to sideline the latest Dusty Baker Show. Yes, this is the kind of team that Baker succeeds with. It doesn't require much in the way of in-game management, is young enough to buy into his us against the world mentality, and has an MVP on the team. (It's a bit early on Joey Votto, especially with the missed month, but he's in the picture.) Phillips' calf strain is not good, but it's not as bad as it seems. The second baseman will miss a couple days while they treat it and let it rest, with a decision coming this weekend. Speaking of Votto, he's taking grounders and doing some light hitting. He could avoid a rehab stint or have just a short one, making next weekend a possibility.
We throw the word "setback" around a bit too easily. I'm as guilty of it as anyone. With any rehab, there are things that happen that might seem like setbacks from the outside and certainly aren't positive, but they are a part of the process. Longoria's rehab from a severe strain of his hamstring hasn't gone as hoped, but his most recent time off from his stint in Durham (AAA) isn't really a setback. It's smart. Longoria felt a bit sore, told the trainers and took a couple days off. He was back in the lineup on Thursday. If he can keep from having the soreness this time, he could be back in Tampa as soon as next week. That said, it's more likely that Longoria will stay at DH for the next few weeks at minimum and perhaps for much of the season.
That ERD is a best guess, based on the fact that Beckett is going to miss his next start. The DL is still an option as his strained back kept him from throwing a side session, which was said to be a necessity before Bobby Valentine would send him out. Beckett is going to have to be shadowed, so I'm not sure what Valentine is doing here, other than giving Beckett another shove. The Sox will need Beckett to show he can pitch before they can even try getting a waiver deal done with him, something widely expected to at least be tried. Beckett's history of back strains is in play here, but the Sox pointedly call this a "mild strain," which is what the Boston press calls "red meat."
Furcal has a long history of back injuries. It's one of the reasons he's a Cardinal at all, after the back stained his time with the Dodgers. It's no surprise that the Cards are being very conservative with him. Furcal reportedly lobbied to get back in the lineup on Thursday, but the medical staff wasn't completely comfortable. He could be back Friday or Saturday, but I'm listing Saturday as the ERD as a reminder that even if he does play on Friday, it's probably better to watch for one game and see if there's any indications that he's back before he's 100 percent. He'll meet with doctors on Friday to discuss several scans that they ran on pretty much all of him. His running is up slightly this season, but it's the first thing that could be sacrificed in order to keep him healthy.
Feliz injured his elbow pitching. This part we know. Tommy John surgery is an all-too-common injury in baseball, at all levels. What we don't know is why. In this case. it could have been many things, from mechanics to fatigue, but many seem to be focused on Feliz's shift to the rotation. Feliz made the shift as part of a plan, giving him a full offseason and spring to get "stretched out" after a full spring last year where he was treated as a starter and then switched to the pen. As a starter, Feliz did