Under The Knife: Mystery around Hughes deepens for Yankees
Yankees may be forced to rest Phil Hughes for weeks and see if arm rebounds
Though team expects less, Pablo Sandoval's doctor says Giant will miss 7 weeks
Johan Santana has been recovering well from new rehab program of long toss
This has nothing to do with injuries, but I had lunch with a friend of mine, Dave Bohmer, who's working on a book about former baseball commissioner Ford Frick. The conversation came around to Bud Selig and the fact that there's no "designated successor." Thing is, there's never been a designated successor, even though some have focused on internal possibilities, as if the Fay Vincent path to the job was normal. Love or hate, Bud Selig has been central to the game, as much so as any baseball commissioner and as much so as any commissioner since Pete Rozelle grew the NFL.
There have been discussions regarding successors such as Andy MacPhail, Stan Kasten and Sandy Alderson, as well as fanciful ones about Bob Costas or Peter Gammons, but the job is one that's beholden to the owners, a CEO more than the grand arbiter that Judge Landis tried to make people believe it was. With no real Peter Ueberroth type out there -- Mitt Romney seems very unlikely, as does George W. Bush -- who's left? I wouldn't be surprised if someone from the media got real consideration, especially from the Internet space. A decade ago, someone like Mark Shapiro (the former ESPN exec, not the former Indians GM) would have gotten real consideration. Today, it might be someone like Reed Hastings of Netflix. We might see a "caretaker" commissioner, someone who's older and would serve as a transitional leader, such as David Montgomery, or maybe baseball could be bold, looking for long term leadership from someone like Theo Epstein. My pick? Steve Greenberg, but I doubt the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball will ask me.
Powered by Hot Sauce Committee Part 2, on to the injuries:
The Yankees are back to square one with Hughes. That "slight positive" that they saw came out to be a negative after his trip to St. Louis. While that is a positive in some senses, the unknown isn't a great alternative. I wouldn't wish thoracic outlet syndrome on any pitcher, let alone a year of recovery that has a mixed history, but if you know me, you know I hate the unknown. The Yankees don't know what the next step is for Hughes. He's headed back for tests, but we're getting into esoteric diagnoses pretty quickly. One doctor I spoke with (who has not treated Hughes) suggested that the team was likely to have to do a "reset" as he put it. "Rest him, send him away from the team and give his arm two weeks of nothing, to see if there's any change," he suggested. It's tough to do that in season, especially for a team that gets that kind of scrutiny, but it may be what's necessary. This situation will continue to be monitored, of course, but the ERD is back to a complete mystery. From a fantasy perspective, you have to dump him unless you can stash him on the DL.
While Feliz isn't making any fans in the front office with his comments about starting, he is close to being back in the Rangers pen. The question is less about whether he'll be fine (he should be) but whether his assertion that working as a starter caused the problem. There's clearly no solid evidence either way, but remember that Feliz had been a starter much of his career. Moving back and forth between roles was done a lot more prior to the 1980s shift to five-man rotations and role bullpens, so I have a hard time believing it's a problem for a modern, in-condition athlete. It wasn't an issue for C.J. Wilson last year or Alexi Ogando, who's a better comp. All will be forgiven once Feliz starts throwing heat again and racking up saves ... but there's the worry for me. How many pitchers have thrown 100 mph consistently and stayed healthy?
The Giants have a bit of a conflict going on with time frames. Bruce Bochy told reporters that he expected Sandoval back in 4-6 weeks, while Sandoval told them his doctor said seven weeks. Who's right? From what I'm hearing, Sandoval's doctor is. The hamate bone, when fractured, can break in one of two ways and each type requires a different fix. With one, the "hook" of the bone can be taken off and the rest pinned, as necessary. With the other, the bone itself is removed. Guess which one takes 6-8 weeks to recover from? That's right, and while I could not confirm that Sandoval had the bone removed, it's certainly a reasonable conclusion. We'll have to see how soon Sandoval starts swinging a bat again, which will be the first sign of progress.
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Utley is progressing. I know the slow pace might be bothering some, but the Phillies seem happy. The major win here is that the team's medical staff seems to have figured out how to maintain Utley's problematic knees, keeping them from swelling up too much after activity and allowing him to keep up what is, behind the scenes, a pretty aggressive rehab schedule. This is key because Utley is going to have to be maintained for the rest of his career. He won't be able to shift to 1B, and 3B might not be much help for him, so 2B is his likely home as long as the knees hold out. That leads us back to maintenance and why it's so key. Philly area fans might remember the success that the Eagles had with a similar problem, back in 2006 with Brian Westbrook. Westbrook was effective then and Utley will be effective once he's back. Utley's headed for XST but should be on a "real" rehab assignment by the start of next week.
"Successful surgery" is a phrase that's become something of a joke in sports medicine. We never hear about the failures, of course, because they're so few and far between. That's the "science" portion, but there's also an art. The best in the business are few and highly sought out. Dr. Bill Meyers is one of the best for sports hernias and the like, which is why he was the guy on the business end of the scalpel for Zimmerman. The healing process should take about six weeks, but keep in mind that the Nats won't rush this. They're not chasing a pennant just yet, so as with Stephen Strasburg, there's no reason to do anything aside from slow and steady. If Zimmerman comes back a bit slower than expected, it's not a bad thing for anyone but his fantasy owners.
The Angels seem locked in on Morales being able to run, so much so that he's stopped taking batting practice. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but there's a DH in the American League still, right? And the Angels don't really have that position locked down, cycling through Bobby Abreu, Maicer Izturis and Torii Hunter. So it would seem like Morales, a guy who was never much of a runner, would be a natural. It's not like the Angels haven't had Molinas on the basepaths. Then again, the Angels aren't stupid. There's something we don't know here. (Yes, I'll admit when I don't know everything. In this business, there's always more to learn and faking it bites you.) Morales is going to have to have something change, but given the comments from his surgeon -- one of the best in the business, Dr. Philip Kwong -- I'm not sure what's left to change. I can only hope that his freak injury doesn't become one we refer to as "career ending."
The Pirates made a timely waiver move, grabbing Xavier Paul from the Dodgers just as Tabata missed a couple games with a strained hamstring. Paul gets a bit of a tryout, Tabata gets a rest and the Pirates don't have to jump through 40-man hoops to bring up one of their young AAA players. The team is hoping that Tabata won't need to go on the DL, but in the meantime, things are working out pretty well all around. The Pirates are an intriguing team, in that they've had an unprecedented run of poor play, but over the last couple of years, there have been some signs of a turnaround. Tabata is one of the anchors in that effort, along with Andrew McCutchen, who is finally getting a long-term offer. A run around .500 into the summer has a real value for them. Still, there's little value in mediocrity, so I'm wondering if GM Neal Huntington will be allowed to stop shopping from the discount bins and make some bigger deals to stop the losing season streak.
Thome's move to the DL was the first of a flurry of Twins moves. Thome had been fighting through the injury for the past week, part of the bench crunch that Ron Gardenhire has been managing around. He's not expected to miss much beyond the minimum. As well, Ben Revere is headed up to the Twins to replace Jason Repko. He's got speed, so he could be a nice short term fill-in if you're looking for steals. I got my first look at Revere a few seasons back when I spent a weekend doing radio for the Ft. Myers Miracle and I came away impressed.
Santana has taken a few steps back. That's a good thing, as the steps back are to allow his long toss to go a bit longer, not because of a setback. Santana's sessions are up to 150 feet with no real issues. He's having "normal soreness and recovery" after these sessions, requiring any undue maintenance. The next step is getting up on a mound, which will add some stress to the shoulder. This is the most sensitive part of the rehab, according to both a doctor and a physical therapist who have dealt extensively with shoulder injuries in MLB pitchers. "The Mets will have to almost expect a setback here," the doctor said. "His shoulder will have to adjust and there's almost a wall of soreness to break through. Most bounce off it once or twice, both physically and mentally." The Mets will be watching closely, but the rehab has gone well so far, despite some alarmists watching.
Robinson Cano was back in the Yankees lineup on Tuesday. The hand shouldn't be an issue going forward ... Andrew Bailey is throwing to hitters and should be back in the bigs within two weeks. He'll go on a rehab assignment, perhaps as soon as this weekend ... Ty Wigginton is headed to the DL with an oblique strain, which means Eric Mack favorite Ian Stewart will not only be back up, but starting ... Nelson Cruz left Tuesday's game with a sore quad. Watch to see if this turns into anything more ... Johnny Cueto gets his first start of the season this Sunday for the Reds. When I last saw him at Reds Uncut, he had put on some weight. Mike Leake heads to the pen to make room (and save Leake some innings) ... Juan Francisco could be headed on a rehab assignment later this week. He's worth watching due to the slow progress of Scott Rolen ... Zach Braddock hits the DL with a sleep disorder. It's not usual, but as someone who has sleep apnea, let me tell you how much fixing things can change your life ... Orlando Hudson is day-to-day with a mild hamstring strain ... Carlos Lee is out until his ribs feel better. He took a nasty hit over the weekend, so this could be a while ... Congrats to Francisco Liriano. Maybe they should tell him he's about to lose his slot all the time ... Dallas Braden's headed back to the doctor after a side session went poorly ... Not gonna lie -- I'm really enjoying The Voice.
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