Under The Knife: Martinez may join potent Tigers' lineup this season
There is a chance Victor Martinez may join the Tigers' powerful lineup in August
David Wright broke his right pinkie finger and will have issues gripping his bat
Brandon Phillips may be given the weekend off to heal a strained hamstring
There's too much info to get to today to wait and chat, but I have some things coming up that you'll see in this space. Today, let's just get right to the injuries:
Chris Iott had the huge scoop that Victor Martinez did not have ACL surgery. When Dr. Richard Steadman got into Martinez's knee, he found the ACL was not so torn that it required reconstruction. Instead, Steadman repaired the damage to Martinez's meniscus where he could and did microfracture to try to stimulate the healing. Microfracture is normally done where there is bone-to-bone contact, so that meniscal damage must have been extensive. The recovery period for this kind of surgery is 6-8 months, so there's a chance that the Tigers slugger could be back as early as August. This is interesting, in that Fielder was signed before Martinez's surgery. Would they still have made the deal? I think so, but we may see a real Murderer's Row in Detroit this year, not next year. We'll need to see Martinez running pretty soon to get that August return, so keep an eye out for that.
David Wright has a broken right pinky finger. He will not only have pain, but problems gripping things. Those things the Mets are worried about are bats and balls. We know that the Mets aren't shy in using Toradol, so the issue of pain tolerance is really one about pain management. If Wright can function and not endanger the finger, he should be able to come back in a couple days. The Mets are holding off any move until Friday. They'll play a man short and retain the retro move. The other, bigger question is why Wright doesn't have some sort of protection on his hand. It might not have helped him here, since the injury occurred on the bases, but considering how much the Mets have invested in him, he should be encouraged to wear better protective gear.
Brandon Phillips got a big deal. His hamstring injury isn't a big deal. The Reds called the initial problem "cramping", but it was really a very minor strain that was caught early. Phillips will miss a couple more games, perhaps through the weekend, giving him plenty of time to heal. He'll probably be on some limitations for a week or so, so those in weekly leagues and counting on steals should take note. In the longer term, this shouldn't be too much of a problem and the further he gets from it without issue, the better. Over the longer term, such as the term of his extension, Phillips has some interesting comps. The one I really like is Bret Boone, though I don't think Phillips will have the same issues for the obvious reasons.
Sadly, it looks like Dan Wade nailed it in this year's Twins Team Health Report. The System had long worried about Scott Baker's elbow problems, apparently more than the Twins had. Baker wasn't on any special program this off-season and came into the spring on the same program as everyone else, without any known limitations. He's headed now for surgery to repair the same flexor tendon that ended his season last year. Twins fans are asking why they're just discovering this now and it's a tough answer to find. The team hoped that rest would have cleared things up, but since Baker wasn't on any sort of rehab, it's hard to think that they thought it was serious enough to have this kind of recurrence. Baker should be able to regain his level after he recovers, which normally takes about six months. He could be throwing in August or September, but the Twins won't get him back until '13.
The Nats might have to install a hotline to Dr. James Andrews if things keep going like this. The Nats sent Drew Storen to see Dr. Andrews, but just sent medical info and images to him in the case of Mike Morse. Storen had surgery on Wednesday to remove what MLB's Bill Ladson called a "bone fragment." That's a bone chip to the rest of us, though the size could be an issue. Storen should be throwing in about six weeks, but a full return won't happen until June. He should have no problems once he does. Morse's "setback" is really more of an issue that never went away. He can't throw without pain, which indicates that the strain hasn't completely healed. Sources tell me the bruising (and therefore the bleeding) has cleared up, but that throwing is clearly doing some continued damage to the area. The Cardinals once moved Albert Pujols around in order to protect his injured elbow and the same might need to be done here with Morse. Not the moving, but basically telling him he can't throw. Ian Desmond could run over on plays in order to make throws, though it would create some real defensive issues. Morse's offense alone might not make him better than Adam LaRoche right now. The Nats are going to give Morse some more healing time for now.
Ryan Howard is making progress, heading down to see the doctor who did his Achilles surgery in order to get cleared to hit. Things sound positive, though he has not yet been cleared for that last step. That said, there's still some things in the story that don't add up. Howard is coming off antibiotics, which usually means the infection has cleared up. Reports are that it's not. Other reports are the wound is not completely closed. I talked with Dr. Kenneth Jung, one of the foot and ankle specialists at Kerlan-Jobe in L.A. and he agreed things don't measure up. "One of the most common complications after Achilles tendon repair surgery is wound complications or infection," said Dr. Jung. "This complication typically occurs immediately after surgery, not five months. Even after the wound heals, complications can arise as activity is restarted and increases." The activity is the telltale sign here and if Howard is cleared to hit, the safe assumption is that the underlying physical issues have resolved. As Dr. Jung said, "The skin or infection should be completely resolved prior to full clearance to play." When the reports don't match up with medical info, it's usually the reporting is wrong.
It was an amazing play as Lorenzo Cain went streaking into the darkest corner of the Coliseum, catching the long fly on a dead run. As he ran back after doubling off the runner, Cain was clearly uncomfortable. Turns out that he strained his groin on that long run, though multiple views of the play don't show any problem until he's running back. The strain is minor and Cain is expected back by the weekend, though he might be limited a bit. Given that speed is his primary (but not only) asset, you may want to wait a bit before putting him back into your lineup.
Chase Utley is back in Arizona, working with his therapist on strengthening around his damaged knees ... Justin Upton was back in the lineup on Wednesday after missing time with a sore thumb. Watch to see if he's missing more. It was hard to tell Wednesday when he went 0-3 with a couple walks ... Mike Aviles was back in the Red Sox lineup on Wednesday. The minor ankle sprain he had appears cleared up ... Lance Berkman was rested on Wednesday after his calf "tightened up." Remember Berkman said last year that 1B wasn't easier on his legs. Swapping him and Carlos Beltran a game or two a week might help both ... Tim Lincecum may not look like himself, but I asked PitchFX guru Harry Pavlidis if his release point was off, given his control issues. Harry said no, it looked normal. This is one of those things where the data and even trained eyes disagree and in those cases, I trust the data. Of course, it'd be nice to have some sort of PitchFX version of ifttt.com ... Carlos Peguero will miss six weeks after having his knee scoped. Some bad luck early this season for Seattle OFs ... Dustin Mosely has "extensive damage" inside his shoulder, especially the labrum. He'll try to avoid surgery, which could be career-ending ... The Brewers said both Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy were out with "minor chest tightness." That sounds like the Brewers are going with a vague encoding for any torso injury. We talked about the semantical discussion on this Tuesday in regards to Doug Fister. Fact is, most torso injuries such as obliques, costochondrals, and abdominals all have about the same recovery period ... Jeremy Hellickson should be fine after being hit in the head by a batted ball. The bill of his cap may have saved him more extensive damage. It's unclear how much time he'll miss, but the Rays will juggle their rotation ... I'll be back to my normal M-W-F schedule next week.