Baseball Injury Reportby Rick Wilton
April 11, 2007
2007 Opening Day Injuries Up 30%!
When the first pitch was thrown in the 2007 season, 108 players were on the disabled list. That’s a 30% increase from last season and the highest total of the last six years. Back in 2002, 100 players began the year on the DL.
Season # of Players on DL 2007 108 2006 75 2005 87 2004 88 2003 81 2002 100
After four seasons in the range of 75-88 players on the DL on Opening Day, why the 30% increase? There isn't a high number of Rule 5 types landing on the DL due to phantom injuries.
We haven’t seen a rash of one type of injury. How about teams with great track records at keeping players off the DL, maybe the odds finally caught up with them? The Chicago White Sox, the number-one ranked team in fewest DL days the past five seasons, has just one player on the DL, catcher Tony Hall.
The Oakland A’s were #2 in the five-year study and they have three, their highest total to start the year in the past six seasons. But that isn’t a high number.
Houston was third and the Astros began the year with just two players on the disabled list. Simply put, the teams with a history of having a long list of injuries still are losing players to the DL at a high rate.
What does history tell us? Back in 2002, 100 players began the season on the DL. By the end of the season major league teams had made 441 DL moves. That number last season was 414, just 6% fewer total moves when we compare the two seasons. Even when there are fewer DL moves made at the beginning of the season, the total amount doesn’t change drastically. We couldn’t find a trend or reason that would explain why so many players started this year on the DL. Baseball is a game of cycles and 2007 looks like it will be an injury-filled season if the cycle continues this season.
Bartolo Colon (RHP, LAA)
Colon worked four rehab innings Thursday night and looked sharp, according to Angels sources at the game. His control and command were good for a pitcher who has had as long a layoff as he did. The one surprising note from the outing is the report that he was clocked at 95 MPH with a couple of his pitches! Considering he's coming off a torn rotator cuff, this indicates that he's regaining a lot of the shoulder strength he lost with the injury the past two years.
Colon is scheduled to make a start at Single-A, then another at Triple-A before being activated. If he handles those two outings without any setbacks, the Angels believe he could be ready to start for them somewhere around April 20. It's easy to get caught up in all of the positive reports regarding his shoulder. The facts are that he had some serious damage to his shoulder, and he isn't over the hump by any means. He's still a longshot to remain healthy and be a productive starter this season.
Freddy Garcia (RHP, PHI)
The Phillies were encouraged by Garcia's rehab outing on Thursday night in Florida. There weren't any signs of the strained right biceps muscle that landed him on the disabled list at the start of the season. The plan is to have Garcia pitch one more time (on Tuesday, April 10), then activate him. He's on pace to be activated and start on April 16. Considering how much throwing he missed in Spring Training, he shouldn't be anything but a five-inning starter when he first returns.
Tom Gordon (RHP, PHI)
Gordon is throwing strikes and has pretty good velocity on his fastball so far. What he is missing is the command on his pitches. This is likely due to the soreness and stiffness he had in the forearm/elbow region early in spring training. The home run he allowed in his latest outing was a hanging breaking ball, one of the few he's thrown early on. The key to watch with Gordon is his velocity and his breaking ball. If he struggles with his trademark curveball on a regular basis, it may signal that his elbow and forearm muscles may be hurting him more than we're being told.
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.