Powering down

From August 31, 2007 Injury Watch…
Billy Wagner (LHP, NYM)
Wagner complained of a dead arm earlier in the month (6.23 ERA, .375 OppBA in August), so manager Willie Randolph gave him some time off earlier in the week. After six days off, he was inserted into the game to try and get a six-out save and failed miserably. He threw 48 pitches and labored to get Phillies hitters out. While the velocity on his pitches was OK (96 mph on the fastball) they lacked the sharp movement he is known for.

In fact, Wagner’s pitches have been flat and his command off almost the entire month. The 48 pitches is his high pitch count for an outing this season and will not help the dead arm. What is the “dead arm syndrome” that you hear so much about late in the year? It could be weakness in the shoulder or maybe a signal he is not completely healthy. We do not have the details from the Mets, so it is hard to assess his medical situation.

From August 30, 2007 Injury Watch…
Scott Rolen (3B, STL)
The Cardinals have finally started providing some interesting but not surprising background information. Rolen’s troublesome left shoulder continues to tighten up on him. The term the Cardinals are using is a “frozen shoulder,” known in medical circles as adhesive capsulitis. The shoulder capsule gradually tightens and decreases a player’s range of motion.

The medical staff no doubt has a routine down for Rolen that includes various treatments to help loosen the shoulder so he can play. In the end, surgery is inevitable. The earlier the surgery is done, the more time he has to rehab for the 2008 season.

Manager Tony LaRussa admitted on Wednesday that it is not out of the question that Rolen’s season may be over. He is having trouble getting the bat through the strike zone. The risk he takes by trying to play through the malady is that he could cause other injuries as he compensates for the lack of range of motion. Unless the medical staff can come up with a new treatment plan, Rolen’s 2007 season may be over.

From August 31, 2007 Injury Watch…
Joe Mauer (C, MIN)
Mauer strained his left hamstring a week ago and has yet to resume any baseball related activities. The Twins did not place him on the DL at the time because they believed he would be back before the rosters expand. Obviously, that is not going to happen. The Twins do not have any idea when he will begin baseball related activities, though there is speculation it could be as early as next Monday. Once we get into September the issue then becomes whether the Twins will risk further injury by bringing him back for a couple of weeks. If they were in the race, it would be a non-issue but they are not in the playoff hunt. Do not be surprised if he’s shut down if he is unable to get game ready by the end of next week.

From August 29, 2007 Injury Watch…
Vernon Wells (OF, TOR)
We still have not regained confidence in the medical information coming out of Toronto. Wells refuses to discuss his left shoulder soreness. The coaching staff is defending him, saying he has played hurt all season, and yes, it has affected his offensive numbers.

For the record, he has just 15 home runs (he hit 32 last year) and is batting .258 after hitting .302 last season. Wells is expected to undergo a thorough examination of his shoulder once the season is over. Wells has a reputation for playing hurt, so it is difficult to judge how bad the left shoulder really is. We should know more by the World Series. In the meantime, Wells owners should not expect a power surge the last month of the season. In fact, once we get to the middle of September, it would not be a surprise if the Jays just shut him down for the year.

From August 29, 2007 Injury Watch…
Tim Lincecum (RHP, SF)
In his first full season in professional baseball, Lincecum has worked 161.1 innings, and the Giants are contemplating skipping his next start. In his last start on Sunday, he clearly looked fatigued, which is not unusual for a rookie starter. His fastball velocity has dropped down into the 80s. The hope is skipping one start will provide a boost to his strength and pitching. However, since Lincecum is so valuable to the Giants organization, it’s also possible they’ll soon decide to shut him down for the rest of the year. Either way, look for the Giants to keep very close tabs on him.

From August 28, 2007 Injury Watch…
Gustavo Chacin (LHP, TOR)
Chacin went on the DL in late April and has never returned to the Jays. He has a strained pitching shoulder and details have been sketchy. Now we get word from Toronto that he is a candidate for exploratory surgery on his left shoulder. He has tried a rehab program for most of the 2007 season without success. That is because the team received a second opinion on his shoulder, surgery was postponed and a rehab program was set up. Obviously it has not worked.

The problem reportedly lies within the shoulder capsule (the tissue that surrounds the shoulder joint and helps stabilize it). He is slated to undergo the exploratory surgery on Wednesday. Once the results of the surgery are released, we will have a better idea on how much of the 2008 season he will miss.

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