Baseball Injury Report Extra

Following are some excerpts from Rick Wilton’s latest Baseball Injury Report.

Eddie Guardado (LHP, SEA)
For what seems his entire career, Guardado has carried the nickname “Everyday Eddie” because he’s had a rubber arm. He could pitch in back-to-back situations as effectively as any reliever. This long run may be coming to a close.

We’ve known for a while that Guardado has been pitching with a torn rotator cuff. The Mariners knew it when they brought him on board in 2004. The ailment did cost him part of the 2004 season, but he rebounded in 2005 with 36 saves in 58 games. We are now seeing signs that he’s just not getting the job done and the shoulder is the reason, despite his denials.

His SO/BB ratio is 1.33, the lowest mark since his rookie year in 1993. His impressive 10.80 K/9 rate hides all the other problems. He’s allowing opposing batters to hit .417 against him. He’s allowed three homers already this year after yielding just seven in all of 2005. His 2006 ratio is 2.40, so troubling that manager Mike Hargrove has been careful not to bring him into a game with runners on.

Guardado says his arm is sore but he can deal with it. He also goes out of his way to explain it’s not pain, and that he knows the difference. Yet something is taking its toll on his velocity and command. He rarely gets his fastball up to 88-90 MPH anymore. His command is off to the point he’s allowing more home runs, and he’s missing his target by huge margins according to veteran Mariner observers.

If you look at his 2005 season, one fact stands out: something happened either late in August or early In September. His September 2005 numbers were 6.17 ERA, 1.82 Ratio and a 7.1 K/9 rate. His April 2006 start is almost a mirror image of his struggles last September.

If I owned Eddie Guardado right now, I’d be making plans to get another closer, or look to acquire J.J. Putz and Rafael Soriano to back up Guardado when he falters. If his shoulder condition is getting worse—as we believe it is—his days as a closer are numbered, especially when you consider his current age (35) and shoulder condition.

A.J. Burnett (RHP, TOR)
Now that more information regarding Burnett’s ailing pitching elbow came out, it’s easier to project when he’ll be back. Dr. James Andrews diagnosed him with “a mild sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament and a slight straining of scar tissue in the elbow.”

Up until his follow-up exam with Andrews, the scar tissue was the main and only source of his pain according to earlier reports. Or at least that is what we were told. He’s gone from scar tissue issues and missing a few starts, to sitting for a couple of weeks, THEN resuming throwing. The mild sprained UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) changes how we view his current ailment.

We might not see him resume any kind of throwing until May 8-10. When he starts up again, it will be light tossing. Then he’ll graduate to long toss to build up his arm strength. He’ll then throw from a flat surface, off a mound, against live hitters in batting practice, then a probable rehab stint. This is a likely three-week process, if not more.

The Blue Jays aren’t likely to push his return, especially given what has transpired this spring. If he sticks to the 14-day shutdown period, we are not likely to see Burnett until the last week of May or the first week of June.

Bartolo Colon (RHP, LAA)
When Colon went on the disabled list, the Angels tried to convince us that the shoulder inflammation was minor and the move was a precautionary one as much as anything else. So much for the “he’ll-only-miss-two-to-three starts” routine. Colon started throwing very lightly on Monday. He’ll then graduate to long toss, throwing off a flat surface, then move to a pitching mound, to batting practice and then a likely rehab assignment. It’s safe to say it’s HIGHLY unlikely he’ll be activated on Monday when he can come off the DL.

Seriously, the Angels indicate his recovery plan will be deliberate. They aren’t going to risk a major setback for a few days of activity. Reading between the lines, the Angels seem to be telling us this: they want to correct the problem that’s bothered him since last fall. They aren’t going to let Colon push the rehab program and risk a relapse or another injury. We are now talking weeks—not days—before he’ll be back. If he suffers any kind of setback, they’ll slow the process down even more.

The best case scenario puts his return May 16-23. If he encounters any problems beyond that conservative schedule, his return moves to Memorial Day or later.

Garrett Anderson (OF, LAA)
Give Anderson credit. Playing with plantar fascitis is a difficult task considering the pain he feels in his left foot. Anderson stated this week the pain isn’t decreasing, but it is not getting worse either. He added he doesn’t know if he can make it through the entire season, or if his left foot will hold up. A good comparison is teammate Tim Salmon.

He had the similar ailment in 1998. Salmon played DH most of the season (Anderson is in left field) and made it through the season before needing surgery to re-attach the ligament in the fall. The difference between the two situations is that Anderson is playing in the field, putting much more stress on the foot. Seventeen of his 22 games have been in the outfield, a pace of over 600 at-bats, mostly in left field. As long as he plays this much defense, the odds are he’ll suffer some sort of setback during the 2006 with his left foot. The only question is: how bad will it be?

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