Featured Note of the Week
Bartolo Colon (RHP, LAA)
In the Baseball Injury Report early in the spring, I raised questions regarding his health. After all, he did finish the 2005 season on a down note. The Angels had shut him down late in the year and he missed the 2005 postseason due to pain in his pitching shoulder. Rather than have surgery, Colon underwent a long rehab program last winter. Even more surprising was Colon’s participation in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic last spring when he wasn’t ready to pitch.
As the season unfolded, it became apparent Colon was not 100%. Inflammation in his pitching shoulder followed him the entire season before he was shut down in early August. The diagnosis late in the season was inflammation in his rotator cuff. They will try a rehab route again rather than surgery. This decision is likely to come back and haunt the Angels and anyone who drafts him in 2007.
From Injury Watch Notes This Past Week
Eric Gagne (RHP, LAD)
It wasn’t that long ago that Gagne was as sure a closer as there ever was in baseball. In April, Gagne underwent surgery to remove a nerve in his pitching elbow that was causing pain. By June, he was back on the disabled list with elbow pain, this time neuritis (inflammation) of the ulnar nerve. In July, a new problem surfaced, two herniated discs in his lower (lumbar region) back. Gagne was done for the year.
The current news is that he’ll resume throwing in mid-October as he prepares to enter free agency. Could he have been avoided on draft day? Last winter, Gagne was ahead of schedule returning to the Dodgers. In fact, there was even talk he could pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. It turned out to be false optimism. His 2005 season should have been a warning flag. His future is cloudy, and there’s talk that he’ll never regain the velocity or movement on his pitches he had in his prime. It will be interesting to see what team wants to take a chance on him next year.
Francisco Liriano (LHP, MIN)
A lot of Liriano’s owners knew about his past injuries. They also knew about his talent, which was displayed for a good chunk of the 2006 season. When the Twins placed him in the bullpen to start the season with the idea of slowly easing him into the rotation later in the year, it looked like a solid plan, but Liriano’s run for the Rookie of the Year and CY Young Award came crashing down early in August. He felt pain in his elbow and left the game immediately.
Testing revealed an old partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and shoulder weakness. He made two short attempts to return before being shut down for the year in September. He’ll start a rehab program shortly with Tommy John surgery still an option if he develops more discomfort in his elbow. Unlike Colon and Gagne, this injury wasn’t expected even with his injury history.
Brian Lawrence (RHP, WAS)
Remember last November when the Padres dealt starter Brian Lawrence to the Nationals for third baseman Vinny Castilla? What a lopsided deal for the Nationals. Lawrence never pitched an inning for them this season; shoulder stiffness turned out to be a strained rotator cuff and torn labrum. The surgery repaired the damage, but he did not return this season. If we take a long look at pitchers who underwent similar surgeries, their futures were bleak, and Lawrence is no different. The Nationals have a club option for 2007, but it’s unlikely they will exercise it when his future is in such doubt.
Mark Mulder (LHP, STL)
Mulder started with a solid month of pitching and didn’t show us any signs of the pending rotator cuff problems that would cut short his 2006 season. Somewhere around the end of May or early June, however, Mulder went into the tank. He never rebounded, and he eventually underwent surgery in September to repair damage to his rotator cuff. No one could have seen this one coming on draft day. Now his immediate future is unpredictable as he recovers from the surgery and injury.