Featured Note of the Week
Brandon Webb (RHP, ARI)
In his last four starts, Webb has allowed 15 earned runs in 24 innings for a 5.62 ERA. While his 2006 season hasn’t turned into a disaster, he isn’t looking like one of the best starters in the majors right now. The turning point appears to have been late July or early August, when Webb complained of some pain in his pitching elbow.
The test on the elbow didn’t reveal any structural damage, but he was skipped over for one start to rest the elbow. Scouting reports don’t indicate that he’s lost any velocity on his pitches, but they do point to some problems with his command. In his latest start (8 H, 5 ER, and 5 BB), Webb indicated that he didn’t feel right the entire start, though he was able to battle for six innings. It sounds like he’s not 100%, but it’s not enough of a problem to skip another start and rest his elbow. Webb owners should be prepared for more struggles down the stretch, although some sort of a meltdown is unlikely.
From Injury Watch Notes This Past Week
Mark Prior (RHP, CHC)
Prior is back on the disabled list again, this time with tendinitis in his pitching shoulder. The Cubs say they’ll give him two to three weeks off, then start him up again with the hope he can pitch before the end of the season. The big question is why?
It’s obvious that Prior’s mounting injuries involving his pitching arm point to a flaw in either his shoulder strength or mechanics. Or maybe it’s Dusty Baker’s or pitching coach Larry Rothschild’s handling of pitchers. Most likely, it’s a combination of all of the above. The bottom line is that Prior cannot remain healthy. What is best for his career is to be traded to another organization and get a fresh start, an unlikely occurrence considering how many times he’s been hurt the past three years.
If Piror stays with the Cubs, they should do what the Blue Jays did with Roy Halladay a few years ago: rebuild his pitching mechanics and start him out in Single-A. Then slowly bring him along if he stays healthy and develops consistency with his new mechanics. Most likely, the Cubs will rehab him in the coming weeks and months, then give it another shot in 2007. Then he’ll get hurt again, spend time on the disabled list, and everyone will wonder what went wrong.
Don’t look for Prior to pitch again this season. He won’t get traded in the winter, and he will land on the DL in 2007. Sound familiar?
Placido Polanco (2B, DET)
The X-rays and MRI done on his separated left shoulder answered a lot of questions. He doesn’t have a fracture or serious damage to the shoulder joint that would require surgery. He does have sprained ligaments in the shoulder, though the exact degree hasn’t been determined yet. The early projection has Polanco missing anywhere from three to eight weeks. Right now, I’d say a month is most likely. If that were the case, it would give him just enough time to return to the lineup and shake the rust off before the postseason begins. If it pushes six or seven weeks, he’ll likely miss the rest of the season and the postseason.
Larry Bigbie (OF, STL)
Bigbie has hit another snag in his recovery from an umbilical hernia. He was removed from a Double-A rehab game when he felt abdominal pain. This is the third time he’s stopped a rehab assignment due to abdominal pain related to the hernia. It has to be getting to the point when the Cardinals, even though they could use another bat and outfielder, will give up on Bigbie and shut him down for the season.
Doug Mientkiewicz (1B, KC)
It is starting to look more and more like his return from a lower back strain will be delayed even longer. Mientkiewicz revealed that he has a bone chip in the lumbar (lower back) region that is very close to a nerve and that’s causing some of his pain. If the bone fragment moves closer to the nerve or comes in contact with it, Mientkiewicz could have even more problems with his back.
Combine the discomfort with weakness in his back, and you definitely have a player not ready to return to the lineup. Even if he returns before the end of August, he’s looking at another DL stint if the pain worsens or if he loses more strength.