Under The Knife: No rest in store for Phillies' busy training staff
Jimmy Rollins won't be out long but will need regular maintenance for sore knees
New safety technologies may prevent injuries such as Mark Teixeira's knee bruise
Hanley Ramirez's back problem may prompt him to work harder in the offseason
Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon, said something amazing on Tuesday. During the company's annual meetings, he was asked about all the successes his company has had over the last few years, such as the Kindle and Amazon Web Services (which powers other successes like Netflix and 37Signals.) Bezos was asked "where are the failures?" He said, "We are willing to be misunderstood for a long period of time."
A few years back, Paul DePodesta, now with the Mets, spoke in a similar way about the "naive question," i.e. if we didn't do it this way, how would we do it?
It's still perplexes much of the league. One of the biggest issues in baseball is that there's so little incentive for change and such a strong resistance to it, there's very little innovation. Moneyball detailed one system that was trying to drive change, but a decade later, not many of those ideas have sprouted new ones, aside from an increase in the number of Ivy League or Wall Street types around the league. Quick -- tell me the last real innovation in baseball. That question brought me some thoughtful answers on Twitter. The best answers? Specialist relievers, aggressive defensive shifts and the hockey style mask. Now these were just on-field effects, so throw out things like MLB.tv or PitchFX, but ... that's it? That's the list?
It's pretty astounding how little change there has been over the last 50 years, especially in an era where the off-field things changed significantly (interleague play, wild card, new stadiums and all the other accoutrements of the Selig Era.) You could walk the guys out of the cornfield in that Pepsi commercial and it would look pretty familiar to all of them, save maybe The Babe. There might be guys like Billy Beane and Andrew Friedman in baseball, but I'm not sure we have anyone like Jeff Bezos, and baseball is the worse for it.
Powered by I-74, on to the injuries:
If you're a Phillies fan and you're experiencing a slight sensation of deja vu, I'm here to help. News that Rollins is having soreness in his knees had some flashing back to the early takes on Chase Utley, who's just getting back to his kind of game after those early spring reports. Rollins has been experiencing soreness that matches up in symptoms, but not severity when compared to Utley. The Phillies did have an MRI done just to confirm there were no issues with the structures. The Phillies believe that Rollins will be back quickly, but this is going to be an ongoing maintenance issue, further taxing a medical staff that's had a lot to deal with so far this season.
It's worse news for Lidge, who needed a cortisone injection in his elbow after experiencing pain and swelling after his latest throwing session. Lidge has been on the DL with a shoulder problem and moving up the kinetic chain (imagine a pitcher as he's throwing the ball with the arm's kinetic force moving from shoulder to elbow to hand) isn't a good thing. Pain going from shoulder to elbow isn't quite as bad as the reverse. Going up the chain usually means that the lower area has strengthened, but that the body hasn't gotten used to dissipating the force. That's a mechanical adjustment and seldom causes significant problems. That said, this is Lidge, who isn't exactly Mr. Healthy. The loss of time will cost Lidge at least a couple more weeks, pushing him back toward the All-Star break, which is where the Phillies had been aiming all along. It's like they knew something.
Rome wasn't built in a day, they say, so it's unreasonable to expect any team to turn things around in a couple of months. That's how long the Athletics have had their new medical staff, one rebuilt from the top down, after subpar results for the better part of the Beane-Forst era. With a troop of young pitchers and the exodus of some of their more injury-prone players, the numbers should be better in the long run, but losing someone like Anderson for weeks or longer won't help. Anderson was placed on the DL even before an MRI and consultation. News that Anderson was headed to see Dr. James Andrews made the problem seem even darker. It's not known what the condition is at this stage, leading to even more confusion and speculation. I'm going to wait for facts, but I'm also going to advise everyone to be ready no matter which way this comes out on the spectrum.
Sometimes things look bad, but aren't. Teixeira was clearly in a lot of pain after taking a ball off his knee Tuesday against Boston. Teixeira had to be helped from the field in a scene that looked a lot worse than a bruise. But that's what he has, which doesn't help the immediate pain or swelling, but I'm sure helped his mind a bit. The team doesn't think Teixeira will miss more than a couple of days, with the possibility of Jorge Posada getting some more time at 1B in the meantime.
Not to be leaning to one product or company, but wouldn't Nike's Pro Combat foam be perfect for preventing this? It could be worn under the uniform or even integrated into the inside of the uniforms, adding protection. Oh wait -- they have precisely this kind of product available now. Jeff Perro, better known as @MilbClubbie on Twitter and the clubhouse manager for the Birmingham Barons, told me that he hasn't seen any players wearing this, though he has seen it on some umpires. Several others around the game chimed in on the discussion and there seems to be some use of this or similar, but far from significant adoption. I still don't know why players don't take advantage of safety technologies like this. If I was a team, I'd offer incentives for my players to do so.
The fact that the Mets are being cautious with Beltran shouldn't surprise anyone, but it seems like it has. He injured his shin on a foul ball. That's not uncommon. What is uncommon is how well Beltran has dealt with the maintenance on his knees. The Mets will hold Beltran out until they're comfortable that running won't create any sort of additional stress on his knee. Also, let me say this again -- Beltran did not have microfracture surgery at any point. He's a candidate for it and it was considered at one point, but he did not have it. People don't seem to get this fact. I expect Beltran to be playing by the weekend, and this should have no longer term effects on his play (or tradeability.)
While Padilla has been rehabbing from forearm soreness, somehow he injured his neck. It's not a simple strain or pain; this is a full-on disc problem that could endanger a significant portion of his season on its own, let alone acting as a setback for his previous arm injury. This is also a recurrent problem, the same one that ended his season last year.
It surprised some that on the heels of the Bryce Harper kiss -- which was completely overblown, by the way -- that Zimmerman went south to Potomac rather than be in the lineup with Harper. Part of that is that the plan was in place before this tempest in a teapot with eyeblack, but the other part is that no one in the organization seems to feel that Zimmerman needs to be a big brother to Harper at this stage. They're not teammates, and from what I can tell, very differing personalities that didn't have a ton of contact in spring training. The other thing is that Zimmerman's rehab is expected to be very short, so his influence would be saying "hi" and hitting in the same order. Zimmerman should be back from his abdominal surgery early next week, though there continue to be signs that they might bring him back earlier if he continues hitting so well.
The Reds hopes for this season rest as much on their pitching as they do on the big bats of Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and others. The sheer depth of their pitching has helped them overcome injuries and ineffectiveness, but it's been seriously tested. Give some credit to Walt Jocketty for that, since he could have easily used some of that depth in trades.
Now, though, they're getting healthier, putting Volquez back in the rotation on Tuesday night. Volquez looked solid enough, avoiding his first-inning troubles, lasting seven solid innings and showing both command and control. It's definitely a good first outing. The Reds can only hope that things go as well with Chapman, who's heading to AA Carolina to take the next step in his rehab. There's still a huge question about his recovery -- his ability to recover between appearances -- that haven't been answered publicly. We'll have to watch for clues while he's on his rehab assignment.
Yes, I got to sit in on a Tommy John surgery yesterday. It was a success, but due to HIPAA, I can't tell you much more. Yet ... Jake Peavy heads to the DL with his groin strain. The Sox think he'll miss at or near the minimum ... Vernon Wells is coming off the DL after his groin strain healed up ... Denard Span is "dizzy, foggy" after his plate collision the other day. It's not a concussion, but likely a recurrence of vestibular neuritis. Keep an eye on this ... Hanley Ramirez has had "significant relief" from his back problems with no sign of neurological trauma. Sources tell me the Marlins think Ramirez might have been "scared straight" on this one and could start taking his off-season conditioning more seriously ... Jayson Werth may miss a couple days after spraining his ankle. He tripped slightly on an in-play bullpen mound ... Scott Rolen has been out with strep. He'll be back when he's not contagious and not weak ... For those that believe that Anthony Rendon's shoulder was "just a strain", I'll point back to Monday's column and note that five teams passed ... Allen Craig bruised his knee on a catch at the wall. Actually, I guess the bruise came from the wall, not the catch. He's day to day and leaves Tony La Russa mixing and matching with even less ... Bobby Jenks lasted just four pitches Tuesday and is headed for an MRI. "More than just spasms" was the early word ... Anyone want a free fantasy shirt? Here's a chance to win some of the coolest designs around for fantasy players. Send your best waiver wire pickup of 2010 or 2011 to firstname.lastname@example.org and they'll pick five winners. There are five T-shirts up for grabs, so good luck. I'm still hoping I can get my "Tommy John Is My Homeboy" idea printed up.