BIR: Pennant Races

Injury Watch, August 27…

Chad Tracy (3B, ARI)
Tracy began experiencing tendinitis in his right knee the middle part at July. The tendinitis got so bad in early August that he received three injections of a synthetic gel (most likely Synvisc) to provide cushion for the knee and reduce the friction causing the tendinitis and pain. Just after the synthetic gel treatments were finished, he received a cortisone injection in the knee to reduce the inflammation was causing in so much pain. Now we get word from the East Valley Tribune that famed physician Dr. Lewis Yocum concluded on Friday that Tracy has a condition called patello-femoral syndrome. It is also called Chondromalacia Patella and is the most common cause of chronic knee pain. Simply put, it is the result of poor alignment of the patella (kneecap) as it slides over the lower end of the femur (thigh bone). The underside of the kneecap, which is sensitive, rubs up against the femur because of misalignment, causing pain. The Diamondback is shut down for two weeks and most likely will focus on treatment that will help get the patella back in alignment, reducing the chronic inflammation and pain. Based on the current available time frame, we could expect Tracy to begin baseball-related exercise the second weekend in September, and barring a setback, he should be able to play for roughly the last two weeks of the regular season.

Injury Watch, August 24…

Mark Mulder (LHP, STL)
Mulder is making his third rehab start as he moves closer to activation from the DL. He is recovering from rotator cuff surgery, and it is hoped he can provide some much-needed pitching help for the Cards in September when he is activated. The track record of pitchers getting out of the gate quickly after undergoing rotator cuff surgery is bleak. While he may show some flashes of his former self, typically recovering pitchers need more than three or four rehab starts to regain their control, command and confidence. Mulder will not be any different. If you are hoping Mulder will help out as a September call-up option, you had better look elsewhere for pitching needs.

From Injury Watch August 21…

Craig Monroe (OF, CHC)
Back in March, I reported that Monroe had patellar tendinitis in his left knee. Both he and the Tigers admitted it was an ailment that he would have to play through the entire 2007 season. We predicted that his home run total for the season would suffer, and that he definitely would not approach 30 home runs in 2007. It did come as a surprise, however, when the Tigers designated him for assignment a couple of days ago and called up top prospect Cameron Maybin to take his place on the roster. Just a year ago, Monroe belted a career-high 35 doubles, 28 home runs and drove in 92. Is his knee still ailing, and is that the reason for the sharp decline in his offensive output this season? It is a known fact that some players struggle with their mechanics when they have this malady. This is a likely scenario with Monroe. The Cubs made a deal for Monroe, hoping he will provide some power off the bench. Monroe owners should not be expecting a resurgence now that he has been traded to the Cubs. I suspect he will have surgery in the offseason to repair the damage in his left knee.

Injury Watch August 23, 2007…

Troy Glaus (3B, TOR)
It looks like the plantar fascitis in his left foot has surfaced again and he will be on the shelf for a few days while he receives treatment and waits for the inflammation to quiet down. With all the aches and pains he’s struggled with this season and September roster expansion just around the corner, his playing time is likely to drop next month. In fact, it would not be a surprise if he is shut down early in the month since he isn’t hitting and the Blue Jays have nothing to play for.

Akinori Otsuka (RHP, TEX)
The third opinion on his pitching elbow and forearm and elbow is in. Dr. James Andrews concurred with the first two opinions—Otsuka does not have any ligament damage in his pitching elbow. He will remain in shutdown mode for about three weeks. Then he will resume throwing. If he still feels the discomfort in the forearm/elbow region, surgery will be an option. He is definitely done for this season with the start of 2008 in doubt depending on the type of surgery he would need.

Injury Watch August 20, 2007…

Curt Schilling (RHP, BOS)
Schilling and the Red Sox made a big deal about the fact that he altered his between-starts workouts to build up the muscle strength in his entire torso, not just his pitching shoulder. He stated over time that his focus was on the rotator cuff muscles and not much else. Because of his age and the need to have the supporting muscles of the pitching shoulder as strong as the rotator cuff muscles, he made a huge adjustment in his workout routine while out on rehab. Supposedly, this new regimen added strength to his shoulder region and velocity on his pitches.

In the three starts since his return from the DL, Schilling has worked 18 innings, posting a 1.22 WHIP and 4.50 ERA. Not bad numbers, but they don’t tell the whole story. He’s yet to walk a batter since returning, and there is no doubt his control and command is better than they were before the DL stint. After these three starts, it has become obvious that Schilling has not regained all velocity on his fastball and it is just not moving like it did in previous seasons. His K/9 rate is 4.0 in those three starts as he is failing to get even an average amount of swings and misses on his pitches.

In his latest start against the Angels (85 pitches), he managed a paltry four swinging strikes the entire outing! While Schilling is healthier now than he was earlier in the season, he is a shell of his former self and we doubt he will regain all the shoulder strength necessary for him to dominate like he has in the past.

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