Baseball injury report: Disarming news

From Injury Watch July 3, 2007

A.J. Burnett (RHP, TOR)
Trying to take advantage of the Yankees’ demise, the Blue Jays attempted to keep Burnett on the mound after he came down with a mild strain shoulder, despite all the money they’ve invested in his long-term health. Now his situation suddenly becomes potentially very serious.

The shoulder wasn’t responding to treatment, so he’s scheduled to go see Dr. James Andrews in Alabama. While some have joked that when a pitcher goes to see Andrews it means surgery, we have seen several examples recently where that’s not the case. We’ve heard that “something just doesn’t feel right” regarding his shoulder, but not much more.

This is Burnett’s 10th trip to the DL, and one can’t help but wonder if he has some sort of damage to his labrum or rotator cuff. Looking back at his game logs this season, he threw 372 pitches in three starts between May 27 and June 7. This included a 131 pitch outing on June 7. In the two subsequent starts after that outing, Burnett struggled with his velocity and felt soreness in his shoulder. Hopefully for his sake, his shoulder became fatigued after such a heavy workload and he doesn’t have any structural damage.

From Injury Watch July 2, 2007

Brian Fuentes (LHP, COL)
On June 21, Fuentes had recorded a 1.89 ERA, 20 saves and only two blown saves. He was as dominating as any reliever the National League. Starting on June 22, Fuentes blew four straight saves and now his ERA sits at 4.17, with a WHIP of 1.20. Those numbers don’t tell the true story.

In those five outings, he allowed 13 hits, 10 earned runs (27.02 ERA), and two homers. He was moved out of the closer’s role on July 1 and in his next outing he faced Houston, where he needed 35 pitches to garner three outs. The Rockies are mum, but his numbers sure say something is hurting.

In spring training, he had some mild back spasms, a problem he also endured in April of 2006. The only time he’s been on the DL was back in 2004, with a strained lower back that cost him 69 days on the disabled list. Could his back be bothering him? There’s enough history here to say yes, and it would help explain his struggles. Fuentes’ fantasy owners should place him on the reserve list until this is all sorted out.

From Injury Watch June 28, 2007

Scott Kazmir (LHP, TB)
Currently, Kazmir has thrown the 11th most pitches in the majors so far this season. Remember, he had two stints on the DL last season for stiffness in his pitching shoulder. You have to think that the front office and coaching staff are at least somewhat concerned about his current pace. Kazmir has talked about being more aggressive toward hitters, yet he needs 18.1 pitches on average to get through an inning. His WHIP currently sits at 1.55, a sign that his command-and-control aren’t nearly what they should be. Should we be concerned about Kazmir?

He already has an injury history and has not surpassed the 186-inning level in his career. In a lot of ways, that’s a good thing, because he’s only 23 years old. While we don’t have evidence that Kazmir has any physical ailments right now, you can bet the front office already has an eye on September regarding their prized southpaw. If his workload remains at the current pace, it would not be a surprise if they sit him in the last two to three weeks of the season. In the meantime, we will keep a close eye on Kazmir for any signs that he is having more shoulder problems.

John Patterson (RHP, WAS)
Patterson has now made the rounds among four physicians to have his ailing right elbow checked out. The consensus is that he has nerve damage involving the right elbow and a right biceps problem. Patterson is slated to have Dr. Anthony Galea treat his elbow.

According to MLB.com the treatments will include hyperbaric chamber, with homeopathic injections, lasers and frequency-specific microcurrents. If these treatments sound unfamiliar to you, it’s because they are approved in Canada but not the US. Patterson has already endured one surgery and he’s still not healthy, so he’s at the point where he’ll try just about anything. If this treatment is successful he should return the season. If not, he’ll undergo surgery and be out for the year.

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