Under the Knife: Does Strasburg need to change his mechanics?
Stephen Strasburg is back to throwing off a mound. That latest milestone in his recovery is a big one, though it's tough to make any sort of judgments about this since the timing is very much slowed down. Let's be clear -- he's not behind schedule, but the Nats have set him on a very conservative path, extending several of the rehab phases with a target of having him back in D.C. sometime in September. The assumption has been that Strasburg would need a few rehab appearances in August in order to build stamina, though the minor league calendar is a bit of an issue. (The regular season ends at the start of September.) In his first mound session, Strasburg was able to "let go," getting his pitches up to "the low 80s" according to reports. That's not exactly letting go, for a guy who regularly pitches in the high 90s. Sure, he's going to naturally be conservative in the first outing, but his arm should be very fresh as well. It's not a concerning detail yet.
What did set off a lot of questions was something I was told and tweeted about on Monday. "His mechanics look exactly the same," I was told by one observer. I won't get into the
Derek Jeter is running! Derek Jeter is running! When something like this, a milestone, yes, but inherently unimportant, I feel like that
The news is better, or at least a bit more predictable, for Bartolo Colon. Colon had a side session on Tuesday and if the Yankees brain trusts feel good enough about it, he'll be back in the Yankees rotation this weekend. Colon is said to have not lost any stamina, going an easy sixty pitches in his side, though I'm sure that the Yankees will be shadowing him with someone during that first start. The start would come against the Mets, which would force Colon to bat as well, which wouldn't be ideal. I'd expect to see Colon with a shouldered bat or maybe a bunt-no-run play going.
Josh Beckett got back on the mound for the Red Sox, but it didn't look like he was comfortable there. This is completely subjective, but he simply didn't look comfortable. He wasn't dominant, didn't have his control, and just looked off. Sure, nearly two weeks off could give "rust" but given an illness, given his side work, and given everything we know about Beckett, it was disconcerting to not see the guy we'd seen for most of the first half on the mound. It's one night and one guy's opinion, but I just have a bad feeling about what I saw on a lot of levels. Beckett needs to come back and show something on regular rest his next time out or he's going to put even more pressure on the front office to beat the Yankees to the trade line.
It feels like the phrase I keep saying this week is "it's possible." Adam Wainwright thinks he can become the baseball version of Rod Woodson,
Things aren't always as bad as they seem. As Jose Tabata was carted off the field this weekend, it looked very bad. He couldn't stand or put weight on the leg without assistance, something that indicates a very high grade strain and high level pain. A couple days later, things aren't so bad. He did go on the DL, but all indications are that his mid-grade strain will only necessitate a minimum stay. Tabata's speedy, but not a speed player, though the worry is his home ballpark. PNC's expansive leftfield area requires almost a second CF, so any loss of range is bad news, both for Tabata and for Pirates pitchers.
The Phillies took the cautious route with Ryan Madson, placing him on the DL. He's been pitching with an injured hand since mid-May and while he's had a couple bad outings, he's been reasonably effective. That means that something they found might get worse if he keeps pitching through it or that something they were doing had a short shelf-life. The "small muscles" affected must be impinging something and creating an issue. I'm working to get more information and a better handle on what to expect here, but for now, Antonio Bastardo is a bit more valuable in the next month. Madson might be back at the same time as Brad Lidge, which will make for an interesting decision for Charlie Manuel.
Back in the day, I actually collected e-mails that accused me of bias against a team. "You must really hate ____!" they'd say, usually a bit more colorfully. I don't root for or against any team and I never root for an injury, but that didn't stop me from getting accused of hating all 30 teams in short order. The fact is there's only so many things I can cover, so I have to pick and choose a bit. Bigger names and bigger teams get more interest. With Justin Morneau, there's not much to say yet. He's going to have minor neck surgery and miss six weeks or so, but until he has the surgery, we don't have any new information beyond the plan. So no Twins fans, I don't hate you. Morneau was actually one of the more interesting interviews I ever did, back in the early days of UTK.
The College World Series is one of those events that belongs on every sports fan's bucket list. It's even better as a player, so it's no wonder that a player would consider doing anything and everything to help his team. Christian Walker, the South Carolina slugger, is playing with a broken hamate bone. It's painful, though I'm sure the team's medical staff is doing what it can to keep him comfortable as well as functional. Walker will need to have it fixed, but trying to play through it is an understandable decision. If he can manage the pain, it's not going to be a long term problem. Walker shouldn't hurt his future prospects by going for the title.