What happened to Raul Ibanez?

From June 1, 2007 Injury Watch Report…

Chipper Jones (3B, ATL)

The Braves have placed Jones on the disabled list for the fifth time in the past three years, this time due to soreness in both his hands and wrists. Jones’ ailments started when he collided with Pirates third baseman José Bautista on May 11. Since then, Jones been treated for pain and swelling intermittently in both wrists. He received a cortisone injection while the Braves were in New York playing the Mets on May 23, but the discomfort didn’t clear up enough to get him back in the lineup.

He has bone bruises at the base of his thumbs, but there is also concern that ligament damage is causing the pain and discomfort in the wrist. Though x-rays have been negative, the medical staff also wonders if he has a damaged hamate space bone. As we’ve learned from numerous wrist injuries in the past, hamate bone injuries can be hard to diagnose. No word yet how long Jones will be out, but it sure doesn’t sound like it will be the minimum 15 days.

From May 31, 2007 Injury Watch Report…

Phil Hughes (RHP, NYY)

When it rains, it pours—at least if you are the New York Yankees. The ankle sprain Hughes suffered while rehabbing a strained left hamstring was serious, very serious. Yankees GM Brian Cashman announced it is a grade three sprain. This involves major damage, including rupturing of ligaments in the ankle, most likely the calcaneofibular ligament. It’s not unusual for someone suffering a grade three sprain to require surgery to repair the damage, though we haven’t heard any talk of that at the moment. He’ll be in a protective boot until the end of June.

He’ll then begin the rehab progress to get his arm game-ready, and let us not forget he needs to make sure he doesn’t suffer a relapse of the hamstring problem. He’s definitely out until after the All-Star break, maybe even until the end of July.

Raul Ibanez (OF, SEA)

In another installment of Injury True Confessions, Ibanez admitted on Wednesday that a sore left shoulder was bothering him earlier this season, though it is no longer a major problem. According to the outfielder, the bum shoulder was the reason he has just one homer so far. Ibanez added that the injury occurred late in spring training on a checked swing and had bothered him since. A minor back ailment caused him to miss five games from May 19-24 and he used that time to rebuild the strength in his left shoulder.

Since then, he’s batted .348 and clearly is making better contact, but his power hasn’t returned yet. If Ibanez doesn’t have a structural problem in the shoulder and he indeed was able to rebuild his shoulder strength, he’s a good target for a trade if you are looking for some power. His power numbers should improve in the near term now that his hitting mechanics have been straightened out and the shoulder continues to improve.

From May 31, 2007 Injury Watch Report…

Barry Zito (LHP, SF)

Zito is 10 games into his National League career and he’s not looking like the ace the Giants thought they were getting. Right now, his ERA is 4.70 and Ratio 1.35. His struggles have the Giants and Zito fans wondering if his shoulder or elbow is acting up. He finished the month of May with five starts, a 5.70 ERA and a 1.43 Ratio. The biggest concern is the 16 walks and 13 strikeouts for the month. Pitchers with more walks than strikeouts allowed rarely have long-term success. Likewise, pitchers with 4.7 K/9 rates struggle more times than they succeed.

After six straight seasons of 200 or more innings, are we seeing the decline of Barry Zito or is he just adjusting to the National League? One veteran West Coast scout indicated Zito has a lot of miles on that arm and he isn’t as effective as he was just a couple of years ago. The A’s saw the handwriting on the wall and didn’t have any problems letting him go. Is he in decline, even at the age of 29, when he’s supposed to be in his prime? It sure looks like it.

He’s not nearly as effective as he used to be. His 12-6 curveball, while still a solid pitch, isn’t as crisp and dominating as it was a couple of seasons ago. Zito doesn’t have an obvious injury at the moment. He is, however, showing signs of wear and tear on his arm, and one has to wonder if some injury is in the works this season.

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