Under the Knife: Yankees counting on Teixeira to recover quickly
With Mark Teixeira hurt, the Yankees need a recovering Nick Swisher to step up
Joey Votto isn't hitting yet, but he should return for the Reds in about two weeks
The Rangers compensated for the loss of Neftali Perez by adding Ryan Dempster
I'm down in Arlington, checking out the Rangers-Angels series and taking part in a great tradition. Jamey Newberg has put together one heck of a community of Rangers fans and once a year, he has a "Newberg Night." Instead of merely collecting tickets and lining his pockets, all the proceeds of tickets and an auction go to charity. One of those charities, the Hello Win Column Fund, brings cancer patients and their families to the ballpark for a night where maybe they can forget about their pain and struggles for a night. (The other is Diamond Dreams, which honors the late Mike Coolbaugh).
These are amazing causes and Jamey's group raised over $17,000 for them. One of the big draws is a Q&A session with Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, who's been doing this since became the team's assistant GM in 2004. On Sunday, he brought his entire crew with him -- AGM Thad Levine, plus former Astros GM Tim Purpura, super scout Don Welke, Pro Scouting Director Josh Boyd, and more -- all during a busy period. That shows just how much this front office cares about some of its most passionate fans. I'm still stunned more teams -- and more writers like Jamey -- don't try something like this.
Powered by hope and charity, on to the injuries:
Maybe Teixeira is not "crazy concerned" about his wrist injury, but the Yankees have to be. With Alex Rodriguez already down for at least a couple more weeks with his broken hand, losing Teixeira would be a tough blow to the middle of the lineup. Still, the worst-case scenario here seems to be along the lines of Jose Bautista, who went to the DL with a similar wrist problem and will be back soon. Teixeira's MRI didn't show anything conclusive, so the 1B got a quick anti-inflammatory shot and will wait a couple days to see if the swelling reduces. In the meantime, the Yankees have Swisher back, mostly. Swisher isn't 100 percent and his hip flexor will be protected by keeping him at DH more. He'll progress, but over the next couple weeks, he'll need to play DH or take days off. It's more likely to be the former since the Yanks need his bat now as much as ever.
The Reds don't seem to miss him much right now, but getting Votto back in the lineup is an obvious key for the Reds, especially since they weren't able to acquire much help at the deadline. Votto isn't hitting yet because there's still some pain and tenderness when he rotates the knee. That's not uncommon after a meniscectomy, but it is a bit concerning. Votto is likely to be out on the longer end of his recovery timetable, somewhere between Aug. 10 and 15 though there's always the chance it could go shorter or longer depending on progress. The 12th seems the most reasonable date, assuming that he doesn't need a rehab stint, which is very unlikely. Look for Votto hitting in any manner to give keys to his return. Once he's taking living pitching, even in the cage, his return will come quickly.
There was only one point in Sunday's Q&A session where Daniels showed even the slightest frustration. That happened during a question about Feliz, who had been scratched from a rehab start earlier in the day. Feliz had tenderness in his problematic elbow and met with team doctors Monday. The worst-case scenario hit the wires just after the deadline, though it was hardly a secret. Feliz will have Tommy John surgery, costing him the rest of 2012 and much of '13 as well. Feliz was being groomed to come back in a starting role, largely because the Rangers didn't want to shift Alexi Ogando to the rotation. Instead, the trade for Ryan Dempster that came at the buzzer probably keeps Ogando in the 'pen. While the cost for a rental of Dempster wasn't high, it only delays the decision on what to do with Ogando until next spring and on Feliz until the following one. Feliz will be back just in time to replace Joe Nathan, who is likely to retire after his contract ends.
Oswalt occasionally makes moves on the mound like his back or shoulder is still bothering him. The once-great Oswalt just doesn't seem to have enough left to get over even a slight physical issue. The deal for Dempster is going to push Oswalt to the Rangers' bullpen.
A couple years ago, I wrote an article for Football Outsiders about the process of rehab. It's one of the hardest articles I ever wrote, because the process is flat-out boring. It's a drudge at best, one that created an acronym I used for a while to avoid talking about it too much: "TRIP" -- Typical Rehab In Progress. The athlete comes in, does his work with the therapist and leaves. The next day, same thing. The next day, same thing. The next day, same thing. The progress is slower than a Molina on the base paths. The worst part is the inevitable plateau, where progress slows or even slides back. That's where Martinez is. He's not "behind schedule", but he's no longer as far ahead of schedule as he was earlier. Danny Knobler of CBS called it "50-50" that Martinez would be back in September, but my sources tell me that it's likely that he'll come back. The question is whether he'll be severely limited. "He's only going to DH, but that part we knew," the source said. "He might not even really be up to that and could end up being a bench bat, or a guy who would need to be pinch run for almost immediately." Even that could help, especially with extended rosters in September. The bigger issue is whether Martinez could be included on a playoff roster. There's not much time left to improve before he'll need to go to the minors to get his swing ready for the stretch.
I'm not sure if this is a first* but the Cubs' trade with the Braves included Vizcaino, a prospect that is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Vizcaino was a solid guy, perhaps a bit behind Julio Teheran on the charts, but losing all of '12 to the surgery and rehab didn't scare off the Cubs. This is a smart play because by this point, Vizcaino is throwing and it will be clear exactly where the timeline is for him. There can be setbacks, as always, but 3-4 months post-surgery is the period where it's very easy to predict where things are going. The Cubs aren't concerned with this season, but Vizcaino will be back for '13 and maybe ready to pitch for the big club by late in the campaign. This is a smart, smart move by the Cubs, who did this a couple times before with pitchers like Dempster, who was signed coming off his own Tommy John surgery.
* Outfielder Chris Denorfia was traded from the Reds to the A's while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. I can't think of any pitcher who's been traded during the rehab.
Josh Beckett left his Tuesday start unhappy with pitching in the rain. Reports have him with a stiff back, so keep your eye on this one (and the waiver wire) ... On Tuesday, I was told Dan Haren is "very iffy" with continued issues in his lower back. Forget iffy. He won't go on Wednesday in a big game against the Rangers. Instead, Garrett Richards will fill in ... Mark Trumbo was back in the lineup on Tuesday. What was once called a "dislocated rib" is actually just a muscle spasm. Still, he'll be limited to DH for a while ... Tommy Hanson heads to the DL with a back issue. I'll have more on this Friday after I can fill in the details ... Brett Anderson will go 75 pitches in his last rehab start, scheduled for Tuesday night. His next start is likely to be for the A's ... Brandon Morrow went three scoreless innings in his first rehab start at Dunedin (A). He'll make one more start there, then move up for one last start at a higher level, probably New Hampshire (AA) ... Johan Santana will throw from a mound Thursday. If that goes well, the Mets will decide if they want to test his ankle in a rehab start or bring him right back to the rotation. Matt Harvey's start will factor in ... Andrew Bailey is scheduled to start his rehab assignment on Wednesday as his return from thumb surgery continues to go significantly longer than average ... Jordan Walden is at least two weeks away from a return and probably longer. He's still in the rehab phase and "isn't close at all" to throwing to live hitters ... Jaime Garcia started his rehab on Monday, throwing a couple innings in the GCL (A) ... Jeff Niemann could start a rehab assignment in the next ten days. He'll likely need three or four starts in the minors before returning, assuming there's a starting slot waiting for him ... Jose Bautista might not need a rehab assignment when he's ready to return from his wrist injury, Keep an eye on this if you're in a weekly league ... David Ortiz's return has been pushed back a couple days. He's now expected back for the weekend series ... Walls usually win. Ryan Sweeney punched a wall near the dugout on Monday and broke a bone. He'll miss 6-8 weeks, which could be the season for him ... The Red Sox also lose Scott Atchison to a UCL sprain. He's likely headed for Tommy John surgery after a consult ... Yasmani Grandal injured his oblique on a swing. The Padres are likely to play it safe with Grandal, costing the young slugger some time ... The White Sox could elect to shut down John Danks if he doesn't make any progress over the next couple weeks. That said, sources tell me that they don't like to shut any doors on players while they're in a race ... Jim Thome is headed back to Baltimore for an MRI on his neck. Spasms there have forced him out of the lineup ... Interesting how Logan Morrison is leaking details of last season's surgery, which apparently involved more than just the meniscus as was believed. Morrison is saying he tore a suture in a repaired patellar tendon. Sources are mixed on this, but Morrison's definitely considering shutting things down and having more surgery ... I'll cover the injury concerns of traded players (and the ones that didn't get traded) on Friday.
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