Baseball Injury Reportby Rick Wilton
June 20, 2006
Featured Note of the Week
Casey Blake (OF, CLE)
The Indians have lost a key component to their offense for the foreseeable future. Blake has a strained left internal oblique muscle. The injury occurred during batting practice on Wednesday. This injury is a little less common than the external oblique strains that have happened so often in recent years.
The internal oblique is located below the tip of the left hip and just outside of the rectus abdominus muscles (the main muscles down the middle of the abdomen). Both ends of this muscle connect to two different parts of the hip bone. One physical therapy expert I talked to today believes this injury is a bit harder to recover from than the external oblique because of its location.
We'll use a baseline of 30 days for a recovery from the injury and work off that number. The Indians' medical staff has already stated he will miss more than two weeks or the minimum DL time. Once Blake gets a few days into his recovery program, the medical staff will have a better idea how long he'll be out. Because of the location, I'm predicting a 4-6 week recovery unless the ailment turns out to be minor.
From Injury Watch Notes This Past Week
Shannon Stewart (OF, MIN)
Reports out of Minneapolis earlier this week indicate that Stewart has suffered a minor setback in his recovery from a plantar fascia ailment in his left foot. When the medical staff attempted to ramp up his rehab to full speed running, he felt tightness in the heel and was shut down. It occurred during a series of drills and not in the beginning of the workout, which is a positive sign. He didn't feel any burning or a popping sensation, suggesting these were just normal aches and pains of his rehab work.
The Twins have backed off a bit to give the foot more time to recover. Until he tests his left foot, we won't know if it's a minor ailment or a more serious setback. Right now, it may have cost him just a couple of days.
Barry Bonds (OF, SF)
Bonds announced on Thursday he was discarding the bulky knee brace that he's been wearing to protect his right knee. Bonds hasn't played much recently due to a strained abdominal muscle, so it allowed the knee some extra time to heal. He'll resume wearing the brace in the situation calls for it, which we believe it will.
However, we shouldn't get a false sense of hope the knee is rapidly improving and his numbers will follow suit. If you saw the long blast to center in Arizona Wednesday night, you would have expected even Minnie Minoso to make it to second. Not Bonds. He made a leisurely trot to first and didn't even make an effort to turn toward second base. The other issue is the brace he's wearing for his abdominal injury. He'll continue to wear that brace until the muscle doesn't need the extra protection and support. The right knee? We don't expect it to get much better.
Tyler Walker (RHP, SF)
Walker has struggled with soreness in his pitching elbow for the past couple of weeks but didn't own up to the discomfort until Tuesday. He's been taking anti-inflammatory medicine recently but it hasn't cut down on the discomfort with his pitching elbow.
Walker had a MRI on Wednesday backing up the sprained UCL. The initial diagnosis is a sprained ulnar collateral ligament stands for the time being. Right now, the medical staff has him in shutdown mode with daily treatments. Best-case scenario is he's back in three weeks or so. Worst case: TJS.
Chris Reitsma (RHP, ATL)
Reitsma has struggled on the mound and in the closer role much of the season. One has to wonder if the numbness in the two outside fingers in his pitching hand is at least in part responsible for his struggles. He's being examined by a neurologist to determine the cause of his ailment. In most cases with a numbness or loss in sensation in the pitchers hand, it is nerve related. The pitcher then loses some of the feel of griping the baseball and some loss of strength.
It's not out of the question that Reistma has a circulatory problem similar to what the Cards' Chris Carpenter and Padres' Woody Williams have suffered through in the past. Most likely, it is nerve related, maybe the ulnar nerve being dislocated or swollen tissue around it causing the numbness. More on his status after the specialist releases his information.
From Injury Speculator Notes This Past Week
Joel Pineiro (RHP, SEA)
Pineiro suffered through elbow woes last year but did not have surgery to fix the damage. He could be demoted to the bullpen soon because he just isn't getting the job done as a starter. Geez, I wonder why? His K/9 rate of 3.80 is almost half of what it was (pre-elbow injury rate of 7.10) in 2004. Because of the low K/9 rate and his increase in walks, his SO-BB rate is barely over one at 1.13.
Combine his dismal ratio numbers with stories that his velocity varies from outing to outing, his command is off, and we have a possible injury here. Most likely, it's the elbow, though Pineiro and the Mariners deny it. I'd bet something isn't right physically more than a pitching mechanics issue. He's now in the bullpen but that isn't going to fix his elbow (or shoulder) if an undiscovered injury is the root cause of his pitching woes.
Rick Wilton is the Publisher of the Baseball Injury Report website, the foremost authority on injuries for fantasy baseball owners. He also published the first of its kind Baseball Injury Annual this spring.