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Featured Note of the Week
Eric Gagne (RHP, LAD)
Just after we went to press yesterday, the word came down from Los Angles that Eric Gagne needed surgery on his pitching elbow. The pain he was feeling this spring is a nerve that’s very close to the surface in the elbow and was being irritated by the tissue surrounding it. As it turns out, this is the discomfort he’s felt that led to reports he was tearing scar tissue in the elbow from last summer’s surgery. The surgery was completed on April 7, as Gagne had a sensory nerve removed from his elbow.
The estimation is Gagne will miss about two months. One medical source I spoke with on Friday indicated it could be back sooner. Here’s why: He can resume throwing in three weeks. Because the surgery didn’t require a lot of soft tissue being surgically cut or removed, the scar tissue should be minimal. Once he gets over that hurdle, the only question is his arm strength.
In summary, the ulnar collateral ligament is intact. The surgery while not minor, was a lot less invasive than originally thought. His down time is reasonably short, allowing for a quicker rebound. I think he’ll bounce back under two months, maybe somewhere between six and seven weeks. We could see him pitching for the Dodgers by the first of June. Gagne owners just might get a half of season’s worth of useful production out of him as a closer.
From Injury Watch Notes This Past Week …
Ryan Klesko (1B, SD)
We know that Ryan Klesko has damaged to the A/C (acromioclavicular) joint. This joint forms where the clavicle (collar bone) and acromion process of the scapula (shoulder blade) meet. Klesko has some bone-on-bone and ligament damage. The condition of his shoulder would help explain his offensive struggles recently (including 2005). There is talk he needs surgery. The procedure being discussed is similar to the bone shaving surgery he underwent on his right shoulder in 2003. The procedure is called a “modified Mumford procedure.”
We do have some clues how long he’d be out or would struggle. Six months after having the surgery the first time he still hadn’t regained all of the flexibility and strength in his right shoulder. This surgery would be to his throwing shoulder, complicating matters even more. It’s safe to say he wouldn’t be completely recovered until after the season.
He’s being evaluated to see if it’s possible for a non-surgical rehab that could strengthen the shoulder. A non-surgical rehab program could take 3-4 weeks. Most likely, he’ll have surgery to repair the damage. Depending on the severity of the damage, Klesko would need 8-16 weeks for a recovery that still might not help him.
While Klesko and the Padres wouldn’t admit it publicly, there are several external factors. First, Klesko is a free agent after this season. He benefits from being healthy at the end of the season and having the surgery now. The other factor is the quick start by Adrian Gonzalez at first base. He looks to be the first baseman of the future, meaning Klesko doesn’t have a position if he wants to come back to San Diego next year.
Rocco Baldelli (OF, TB)
The strained left hamstring injury that landed Rocco Baldelli on the disabled list at the start of the season continues to plague him. It’s responded slowly to treatment and there is now talk in Tampa Bay he won’t be ready until early May.
This is at least two weeks longer than we’ve projected. Downgrade Baldelli’s value another 5-10% if you are drafting this week.
John Foster (LHP, ATL)
The nagging left elbow soreness and inflamed nerve John Foster struggled with this spring continues to plague him. He attempted to throw earlier in the week but still felt pain. Sources in Atlanta indicate he’s a very good candidate for Tommy John surgery this week and will be lost for the season.
Odalis Perez (LHP, LAD)
In an early report, we stuck a Draft Day Alert on Odalis Perez after he complained of some shoulder soreness in winter ball and was shutdown. He proceeded to work the World Baseball Classic in March, preventing the Dodgers from watching him closely and monitoring his throwing. Once back from the WBC, he declares he’s in the “best shape of his life!” Don’t you just hate it when players make that proclamation? Someday I’m going to tally up all the “best shape of his life” declarations and see how the players perform that season.
Now fast forward to his first start of the season. Three innings, nine hits, seven runs at home against Atlanta. Imagine what the numbers if he wasn’t in great shape! Seriously, Perez looked like a pitcher looking for his release point. He isn’t the first veteran pitcher to struggle to repeat his delivery. His first start struggles can be attributed to poor mechanics, a viable explanation.
But a pitcher with some shoulder issues like stiffness, muscle imbalance and such could put up the same kind of
numbers. One number did save him in this start, zero walks. If he’d been wild on top of getting the tar hit out of him then a red flag would have been raised. The Injury Speculator will be watching closely in his next few starts.
Rafael Soriano (RHP, SEA)
Rafael Soriano is 19 months past Tommy John surgery and Mariners observers indicate he’s looking as sharp as he ever has. His fastball is being clocked around 95 mph. His command is sharp as he puts the pitches were he wants. In his second outing this season, a back-to-back situation, Soriano had the same velocity as the day before., a sure sign is arm strength is all the way back. Right now, he’s a power arm
in the bullpen, mainly as the setup guy. If Eddie Guardardo goes down with an injury, Soriano is primed to be the next closer if given the chance.