Under The Knife: McCarthy escapes scary hit with life and career
Brandon McCarthy is likely to be able to pitch again after suffering skull fracture
Matt Kemp may need surgery for strained shopulder but can play rest of season
Nick Markakis may try to rush return but he is likely done for rest of the season
The best days are at ballparks. I had another one of those Friday night at Wrigley Field. Instead of seeing the Cubs, I saw a much better team -- The E Street Band. Always great, but always evolving, Bruce Springsteen and his band epitomize the best of America and a show at Wrigley was even more of that. I never thought I'd see the day where suburban moms held their beers high and danced to a solo from Tom Morello, but I did and in a place I never imagined it. Now, if we can just get baseball to evolve the way that The Boss has -- gracefully, but unstoppably.
Powered by a great show and the spirit that existed 11 years ago, on to the injuries:
Seeing McCarthy struck flush on the side of the head was bad enough, but for the situation to go far enough that he needed to have the pressure on his brain relieved is very nearly the worst case. McCarthy is lucky, or as lucky as someone can be in this situation. He was out of intensive care as of Sunday, though this is still a very serious situation. Great care from the seconds after he took the hit helped keep this from being much worse. He'll pitch again -- not this season, but it would likely be a matter of weeks. More important, he'll be alive and have a normal life. I know pitchers avoid wearing any sort of protection, but it's harder to ignore something like this. New technologies are available now to protect players from exactly this kind of situation. I'm not talking about thick pitching helmets, but thin kevlar or foam sheets that could be placed inside the current hat. It's not perfect -- a Bryce Florie style hit to the face wouldn't be helped -- but it's a start. McCarthy is a smart guy. I hope he's smart enough to be a leader and to wear some form of protective device next time he's out there. Not for him, but for the kids who look up to him who might not be so lucky.
That Price is missing a start has to be taken in context. The Rays are fighting for a playoff slot. The Rays are a notoriously conservative organization when it comes to managing their pitchers and workloads. The Rays have a seemingly endless supply of young pitchers following in the footsteps of Price, if perhaps not quite as elite just yet. Chris Archer certainly has the stuff and acquitted himself well against a very tough opponent in Price's place. Take all that together, plus the "more" that we know the Rays' ultra-smart front office puts on everything and it's a decision that's easy to understand. Price's shoulder injury is much more on the stiff/sore end of the scale. Watch to make sure he makes his scheduled side work, but if he does, I wouldn't hesitate to get him back in my lineup.
Kemp's shoulder injury is serious enough that the Dodgers decided to have a contrast MRI, which will keep him out of the lineup until Tuesday. (The dye has to clear his system before it's safe for him to play again.) Kemp lost a battle with the wall back in late August and is 3-for-30 since that point, so there's no question the hit is affecting him. Given the findings of inflammation and issues with his labrum, Kemp may have dislocated the shoulder and had it self-reduce. Depending on the location of the fraying, Kemp may need post-season surgery, but should be able to play through it. The bigger question for the Dodgers is whether he can play effectively.
McCann is fighting through a shoulder strain, but seems to adjust in bursts. Saturday was a huge day for him, going 4-for-5 with a homer, but his average continues to slide. It appears his shoulder has turned him into a pure guess hitter, having to start the bat early and unable to adjust enough when he guesses wrong. Between the weird patterns of McCann and the similarly weird hot and cold of Dan Uggla, it's amazing that the Braves are still in contention this late. It's unclear what the Braves can do for McCann beyond the continued maintenance he's undergoing. A bit of extra rest didn't help, cortisone hasn't helped, and with Chipper Jones in the locker room, it's going to be tough for anyone to take more than a day off here and there.
The Orioles have had so much good luck this season that some balance was almost necessary. The downside is that Markakis is one of the toughest players for Buck Showalter to replace. A broken thumb will take about six weeks to heal, which would be the middle of October. The O's medical staff will do everything they can to get Markakis back early, starting with surgery on Tuesday to plate the fracture. Markakis may push to return early, so hold Markakis if you can afford the slot. That return is unlikely to be successful, but we've seen crazier things with teams pushing for a playoff slot.
Teixeira was safe. Of course, maybe if his calf was a bit healthier, he wouldn't have been that close anyway. It's little things that lead to big things. Honestly, how many of you considered the muscle strain when you watched the endless replays of that missed call against the Orioles Saturday? Did you hear any announcers or analysts bringing it up? Teixeira is clearly still dealing with a strain and is trying to hobble through as the Yankees fight for the division lead. They'll have to manage this as best they can, but this is a very risky injury.
The Yankees have better news on the pitching front, where CC Sabathia's velocity is down and Joe Girardi's temper is up. Andy Pettitte made it past a sim game and will have a side session mid-week. At that point, the Yankees might activate Pettitte and use him as a "starter," paired with a long reliever since his stamina would be a huge question. Capping him at 60-70 pitches is a creative way to get him out there. The Yankees also activated Ivan Nova, though it's more of a roster move than a real one. Nova is only available in an emergency, and depending on how side sessions go, he could be the guy who's paired with Pettitte.
There's not much more to say about Stephen Strasburg at this point. History will write the next lines, but here's my question: Will Strasburg keep throwing on the side? ... Albert Pujols may not play 1B until the final week of the season. This depends as much on how Mike Scioscia sets the lineup around him as it does his strained hamstring ... Jered Weaver is still not ready to go. His bruised shoulder surfaced some inflammation, which the medical staff is working on. He could start as soon as Wednesday, but it's not clear yet if that will happen ... Scott Rolen's back is acting up again. Todd Frazier will get more time as the Reds work to get Rolen healthy enough to last into October ... The Reds will be cautious with Zack Cozart this week. A mild oblique strain could get worse quickly and cost him playoff time. The injury-prone Cozart has been solid for the Reds and part of the reason they have enough of a lead to rest him ... Jake Westbrook may not make his next start due to a mild oblique strain. The Cards have several options for a spot start ... Mike Napoli is on track to return next weekend. The play of Geovany Soto has bought him time and may cost him time behind the plate once he does return. I don't think he'll complain much ... Clayton Kershaw will miss his turn after needing a painkiller injection into his strained hip flexor. They'll have to be careful that he doesn't change his mechanics, so beware starting him next time out ... Chad Billingsley will try to rehab his way out of Tommy John. A decision will be made before the end of the season ... Adam Dunn will miss much of next week as the Sox try to heal up an oblique strain ... Placido Polanco will finish the season on the DL. He says he wants to play next season, but it's unclear if that will be with the Phillies ... Brett Lawrie returned from the DL, but he'll be handled very carefully over the next couple weeks ... The Jays also got JP Arencibia back after missing six weeks with a fractured hand. He'll also be rested regularly ... No one seems clear on when JA Happ broke his foot, but he'll miss the rest of the season and much of the offseason. The Jays simply can't keep pitchers healthy, though it's hard to blame them for this one ... I'm hearing that the Red Sox don't expect David Ortiz back this season, but won't announce anything. Smart move ... Asdrubal Cabrera is day-to-day with wrist pain. An MRI came back negative, so they'll work on it, but there's no reason to rush him ... Maicer Izturis will miss a couple days as he tries to get past back spasms ... Troy Tulowitzki is expected to be activated Monday. He's been out since May after surgery on his groin ... Logan Morrison had more surgery on his knee and is done for the season ... Shelby Miller will be used as a reliever to protect his arm, but he's one of those guys you have to think about stashing in deep leagues ... Word out of Philly is that Charlie Manuel will retire after next season. Ryne Sandberg may shift to bench coach in order to make an easy transition ... Happy birthday, Jack!