Under The Knife: Indians, Red Sox hope training staffs win trades
Despiet concerns with arm, Ubaldo Jimenez passed physical after trade to Indians
Acquisition of fragile Erik Bedard will tax an already overworked Red Sox trainers
Adrian Beltre has been limited to only getting treatment for strained hamstring
The trade deadline has come and gone, but for several teams, injuries were a major part of the deals. For some, it was about filling in a gap created by an injury; for others, it was whether or not to add an intriguing talent. In some organizations, the medical staff is given a voice in trade discussions. This is usually involves the team doctor or head trainer taking a look at a player prior to an agreement, or taking a hard look at the medical records. Other organizations barely consult with their medical staffs, which makes no sense at all.
Consequently, some teams will take on risks, hoping their medical staff can keep a player healthy enough for the short term, the way the Giants did with Carlos Beltran. That doesn't mean the risks aren't real, both for chronic and traumatic injuries. We have such tight races in most divisions that even minor injuries could swing things, which means that names like Brad Henderson, Lonnie Soloff, and Jeff Porter might end up meaning more to their teams than Ryan Ludwick, Ubaldo Jimenez or Michael Bourn. Powered by Paul Menard's surprise win at Indy, on to the injuries (and trades):
The Indians had to give up a lot in the way of prospects to add Jimenez to their rotation, but stories that the Yankees backed out of a deal after they weren't allowed to perform a physical don't add up. I have a feeling this got twisted in the rumor mill, since all players have to pass a physical in order to be traded. Jimenez passed his in Cleveland, and I'm sure the team spent a lot of time on his arm.
There's no single standard for physicals, with some teams following a standard procedure and adding in things depending on need, while others basically check that their new player is breathing. Medical records are always transferred and are usually in paper form. While MLB is working hard on a new electronic system that would make it easier to transfer and inspect records, it's not fully integrated with past records. I'm told that virtually all of the concern with Jimenez was with the labrum and rotator cuff.
Jimenez has had a dropoff in velocity, and as Tom Verducci pointed out, it seems that there's a bit of a workload multiplier in Colorado. That fatigue factor is a mystery, but so is fatigue in general. Jimenez passed his physical, so we have to assume that there's no significant damage and that the risk now matches the price the Indians paid. Jeff Stotts of Rotowire asked an interesting question -- does Jimenez become less likely to be injured, going from a lower-rated to higher-rated medical staff? (Using 2010 ranks, Colorado was 26th, their worst year, while Cleveland was 3rd. I think the five-year ranks are much more telling.) There's also a loss of trust, comfort, and communication, so even a move so far "up" the spectrum isn't going to be perfect. It's certainly an idea worth testing and one more reason the Indians might have been willing to make the deal.
The initial word that Harden was dealt to the Red Sox led to several predictable jokes about his health. The trade was nixed after medical information was given to the Sox, forcing them to turn to Bedard, a guy with a similar mix of talent and risk. It's a lot to ask of Mike Reinold and the Sox medical staff, adding a known risk on top of the current situations they're dealing with. There's a risk that any staff can be overwhelmed since there's a limit to the real man-hours that can be pushed toward the various tasks. As more is put toward maintenance, less can be put toward prevention. The Sox know -- or hope they know -- what Reinold's staff can handle, but in this case, there's one more acquisition the team should consider: a new athletic trainer. Anyone have a good reason why Jon Jochim couldn't be called up as easily as a player?
White was a part of the Jimenez deal and a reminder that yes, a player on the DL can be traded. White's finger problem is nearing an end, with White scheduled to make a rehab appearance at Akron (AA) before the deal. The plan was for him to make several rehab appearances before returning to Cleveland, but the Rockies will certainly make their own plan. It's doubtful that the plan will change significantly, especially with the Rockies eager to show their fans some return for dealing their ace. White is the closest to "ready" that they acquired. The only real question is if the Rockies will keep him in the pen or try to extend him during his rehab. The finger injury and loss of time makes it tougher for him to work on the third pitch he really needs.
It hasn't been an easy year for Jeter. Getting hit on the hand by a pitch has nothing to do with a decline, especially considering he left with a painful bruise but nothing worse. It is, however, one more thing that appears to follow a pattern, one that's personified by a player Jeter is often compared to in Cal Ripken.
Ripken and other "iron man" type players tend to decline rapidly at the end, as if all the injuries they avoided come at once. Instead, it's likely a combination of wear, aging and a regression, as well as a body that's unsure of the rehab process. Think about these two, sure-to-be Hall of Fame shortstops. For all the things we know about them, have you ever heard about their workouts? Did you ever look at them and say "great physical condition?" No, both are relatively ordinary physically, but well tuned to their position. (There's an object lesson in the fact that it's frighteningly easy to find a picture of a shirtless Jeter, but impossible to find a similar Ripken shot. Then again, searching for Cal Ripken did lead to some disturbing material. Even the most ardent Yankee fan would admit Jeter is in decline. This minor injury is just another piece in the pattern that suggests it might be a steeper slope than we expect.
The Rangers made a couple of deals for their bullpen at the deadline, but their offense is pretty solid, especially when healthy. Getting healthy isn't quite happening yet, as Beltre is still a ways off with his strained hamstring. While the diagnosis was a mild Grade I, Beltre hasn't been able to do much of anything besides get treatment, and there's no clear date for when he'll start baseball activities. What looked like a minimum stay on the DL is likely to be longer, especially if he'll need a rehab assignment to get some swings. Michael Young is an adequate replacement, covering Beltre's rehab.
Cruz injured his quad on Friday on the hard turf of Toronto (Yes, it's really hard, with barely any padding beyond the "blades." I'm not sure if the turf being rolled up for Argonauts football makes a difference.) Cruz was held out over the weekend, and with a off day Monday, he should be back on Tuesday.
Morneau was sidetracked by some migraines, but is starting to hit again. He's moving toward a minor league rehab assignment, and given the way that the Twins have handled other rehabs, they'll likely want to see a week of solid at-bats for Morneau at an upper level. This could start as early as this week as long as Morneau progresses and has no more migraines. CoolStandings.com has the Twins' playoff odds at less than 2 percent, so any sort of rush is self-inflicted. They're not quite to Kevin Kennedy's "10 and 5" rule, where a team that's 10 games back and five games under .500 is considered completely out of it, but it's close. The key now is getting the key players healthy for next year and figuring out just how much they can count on Morneau for next year and beyond.
Treanor got stone cold crushed at home plate by Matt LaPorta, who took him high on a play at the plate. Treanor was clearly unconscious, locked up and laying on his face for a few seconds before he popped up. Even after that, he was clearly altered. The Royals wasted no time in putting Treanor on the seven-day Schwartz List for concussions. Treanor is reportedly feeling better, but giving him time to clear his head (literally) is the smart play here. LaPorta was criticized for the hit, but one source asked me if "you'd rather him go low and take out an ankle or knee? I think he was going for the chest or shoulders, maybe to knock the ball out." Amazingly, despite being unconscious, Treanor held on to the ball for the out. Also, watch his positioning -- he was set like a basketball player about to take a charge and spun, dissipating some of the energy of the hit and perhaps saving his head a bit of damage. I doubt we'll see the same calls for rule changes since Treanor isn't a star, but I still hate to see this kind of play. I can't fault LaPorta for playing hard, but I don't think it's necessary either.
Sometimes the procedural rules in baseball are as opaque as anything short of Senate rules. Doumit was shifted to the 60-day DL in what was purely a "paper move," as GM Neal Huntington called it. Doumit has already been on the DL for 60 days, so it was done solely to open up a slot for Derrek Lee. Doumit has been spending the last week in Indianapolis (AAA) making sure his ankle would hold up to catching, where the Pirates intend to use him at least part time. Doumit could be up at any time, especially if Ronny Cedeno is forced to the DL. Cedeno's knee injury would expose a thin spot at SS with Chase d'Arnaud also out, but would help clear a roster spot for Doumit's return, along with the necessary 40-man move.
Lance Berkman is back in the Cards lineup. The team doesn't seem too concerned about the short-term impact, but there is quite a bit of concern about keeping him functional over the longer term ... Chipper Jones had more fluid drained from his knee and will miss at least a couple more games ... Scott Rolen is eligible to come off the DL but it's unclear that he'll come off when eligible this weekend ... Denard Span will re-join the Twins on Tuesday. There's no truth to talk that his concussion kept teams from trading for him. He'd been cleared to play baseball, something that wasn't going to change with a trade ... Roy Oswalt's target is 90 pitches on Monday night in Lehigh Valley (AAA). He should be back with the Phillies next weekend ... Brett Myers will make his next start, but he injured his hamstring last time out, so there are some question about how effective he'll be, especially with a diminished Astros team behind him ... The Sox say that the acquisition of Mike Aviles tells us nothing about Jed Lowrie. We'll see with Lowrie starting a rehab assignment on Monday with Pawtucket (AAA) ... The trade for Orlando Cabrera gives Miguel Tejada some extra cover so he can heal up from his abdominal strain. If Bruce Bochy is smart, Cabrera will also keep Tejada off SS as well ... Chris Denorfia left Sunday's game with a sore hamstring. The Pads are a bit shorthanded after the Ryan Ludwick deal, so they're hoping this isn't too serious ... David DeJesus injured his thumb on Saturday and was out of the lineup on Thursday. No word as to the severity or how long he'll miss, but it is the same thumb that cost him much of last year ... The D'backs will try to find rest for Chris Young more as they did on Sunday. He's dealing with a sore thumb and some sort of wrist issue ... I'm hard at work on the pre-season Injury Reports for the '11 NFL season. You'll see the start of that Tuesday here at SI.
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