Baseball Injury Report

Featured Note of the Week

Octavio Dotel (RHP, NYY)
There is a lesson here. Back in June 2005, just after he had Tommy John surgery, Dr. James Andrews stated he believed Dotel could be ready by the opener in 2006. At the time, it was a surprising comment. We also heard other very positive statements the past 12 months regarding Dotel’s health.

About a year after the surgery, he came down with tendinitis in the same elbow that needed surgery. This setback essentially cost him a chance of returning this season. Yes, the last setback seals the end of the 2006 season but it isn’t a surprise.

Almost every pitcher needs 12 months to get back far enough for a rehab assignment. Then there are so many hurdles, both mental and physical, that he must overcome. Forget all the positive hype during a recovery; until a Tommy John surgery pitcher is back on a major league mound, count on nothing from him.

If he makes it back in the 12-15 month timeframe, the odds are definitely against him that he’ll be an effective pitcher the first half of the season back. In a sense, he’s learning to pitch again and he’ll struggle. Then there are pitchers who suffer setbacks and need more time. Dotel is an example of that risk. So the next time you see glowing reports, even from the esteemed Dr. Andrews, remember Dotel and the long road back.

From Injury Watch Notes This Past Week

Bill Mueller (3B, LAD)
It’s looking more and more like my earlier prediction regarding Mueller is true. The condition of his arthritic right knee is so bad that he is definitely done for 2006. The Dodgers are not hopeful for next year either. This is because there is no known treatment at the moment that would allow Mueller to get back on the field, not even the Synvisc treatments that Randy Johnson and Keith Foulke are using. By all reports out of Los Angeles, Mueller’s career is over.

Robinson Cano (2B, NYY)
Manager Joe Torre admitted yesterday that Cano indeed had a setback in his recovery from a strained left hamstring. While running the bases on Tuesday, he felt pain in the area of the strain. This tells us he’s not healed yet and will need more time to recover. He was shut down and will remain off the baseball paths and out of baseball drills until the pain subsides. They’ll re-evaluate the hamstring over the weekend. If he’s able to resume his workouts, the delay will be short. If, however, he is shut down for a longer period, then it will cost him more time on the DL.

Tony Clark (1B, ARI)
Arizona placed Clark on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. The ailment surfaced almost a month ago and has been slow to respond to medication and treatment. The D-backs’ medical staff believes the next step is rest to allow the inflammation (most likely tendinitis) to quiet down. While Clark has had a horrible season after stroking 30 home runs and hitting over .300 last season, he can’t blame a good portion of his struggles this year on this ailment. Look for Clark to miss at least three weeks. When he returns, rookie Conor Jackson might have a lock on the first base job—for good.

Ty Taubenheim (RHP, TOR)
Taubenheim is out of the hospital and recuperating after being treated for a staph infection in his left foot. He’s the second Blue Jays player to come down with a staph infection. Alexis Rios, who is still on the disabled list, was the first.

Toronto had the entire Blue Jays clubhouse disinfected after Taubenheim was diagnosed with the infection. As we’ve seen in the past with several NFL and college teams, staph infections can run through a team if they are left unchecked. No word from the Jays on how long he’ll be on the disabled list. Because he was not in the hospital as long as Rios was, we expect his DL stint to be shorter.

From This Past Week’s Injury Speculator

Chris Young (RHP, SD)
Young has a stress reaction in his right (push off) foot. The Padres believe he’ll miss just one start (he’s scheduled to start 7/24), allowing the ailment to heal enough and avoid a trip to the DL. Even if this doesn’t develop into a problem area, he still has issues.

One of the concerns the Rangers had last season focused on his stamina. He ran out of gas later in the season as his innings count pushed over 220. There are some Padres observers who wonder the same thing this season; will he run out of gas the last third of the season? In a way, the stress reaction in his foot just might give him enough time to recharge his batteries for the long run down the stretch.

The number one health concern regarding his foot is not so much whether it will heal or not, because there shouldn’t be any problems in that regard. However, pitchers who have foot and knee problems can develop elbow or shoulder problems down the road as they compensate for the known injury. San Diego will be watching his mechanics closely in the coming weeks.

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