|Between the Foul Poles: Injuries Abound||| Print |||Send|
Written by Robert Democh (Contact & Archive) on June 04, 2009
Pity Tampa Bay, whose locker room has all the trappings of an infirmary this season.Â The beleaguered Rays have placed nine players on the disabled list, six in the last two weeks.Â The casualties include reliever Troy Percival, second baseman Akinori Iwamura (lost for the year with a torn knee ligament), shortstop Jason Bartlett (who had been leading the club in batting), DH Pat Burrell and rotation mainstay Scott Kazmir.Â The ravaged defending AL Champs
The surprising Texas Rangers remain perched atop the AL West.Â For a team that perennially relies on power, their pitching has paved the way for much of their early success.Â The staff fashioned a collective 3.57 ERA in May, among the best monthly totals in franchise history.Â They welcomed Vicente Padilla, their most consistent starter the past two seasons, back from the DL on Tuesday.Â Texas has also adopted a more aggressive running philosophy this season.Â After stealing 81 bases last year, the team is one pace to easily surpass that total, having been successful on 40-of-48 theft attempts thus far.Â Slugger Josh Hamilton just canâ€™t seem to stay healthy.Â To date, he has missed time with a strained rib cage, a groin injury, and now a strained abdominal muscle.Â The latest is the most troubling, as an MRI was performed Tuesday and he was placed on the DL for maybe two months.Â Hamilton is finding an encore to his breakout 2008 campaign (when he racked up 32 homers and 130 RBI) extremely difficult.Â Â
The injuries are also stacking up for the Cleveland Indians. Any faint hope they may have had for resurrecting their 2009 season were dashed Sunday with the announcement All-Start outfielder Grady Sizemore would be placed on the 15-day DL with an inflamed elbow.Â Sizemoreâ€™s pitiful May (.211 BA, just three homers) is now being attributed his elbow woes.Â Thereâ€™s a distinct possibility Sizemore will require surgery if the elbow doesnâ€™t return to normal following his DL stint.Â In that case, he would be shelved until the end of July.Â This development only intensifies Clevelandâ€™s hold on the AL Central basement and comes on top of the continued absence of Travis Hafner (out since April 29 with a bum shoulder). Victor Martinez -- who has performed admirably this season -- missed several games with a bruised knee but DHâ€™d Monday.Â Clevelandâ€™s ills arenâ€™t confined to position players.Â Through the first two months of the season, the Indians have utilized an astounding 22 different pitchers.Â When they last captured the division in 2007, the Tribe used 21 all season.Â Carl Pavano has left me with egg all over my face.Â Given up for dead after being cut loose by the Yankees, Pavano has been a worthy addition to the Cleveland rotation.Â In seven May starts, he went 5-1 with 35 strikeouts in 40 innings.Â Itâ€™s unlikely heâ€™ll continue at that high a level of effectiveness, but Pavano has amply demonstrated he can still succeed at the big league level.Â
In a most welcome development for the New York Yankees, Chien-Ming Yang tossed three shutout innings of relief Sunday and by all indications is done being road kill forÂ AL batters (34.50 ERA in three April starts before being demoted).Â It would be an enormous boon to the Yankees if he recaptured some of the command that enabled him toÂ twice win 19 games in pinstripes.Â While slow starting Mark Teixeira couldnâ€™t wait to exit April, heâ€™s probably sorry to see May end, finishing the month with 13 homers, 34 RBI and a booming .330 average.Â His display served as a chilling reminder to AL East opponents that Teixeira is more than capable of hoisting an offense on his back when he heats up.Â Alex Rodriguez is showing no residual discomfort from hip surgery although he has yet to attempt a stolen base.Â After smacking seven homers in his first 15 games, A-Rod has gone eight contests and counting in search of his eighth.Â His plate discipline has been exemplary, as he has coaxed 20 walks versus 14 strikeouts.Â
Time is no ally of the Pittsburgh Pirates.Â In an all-out attempt to avoid baseball infamy by becoming the all-time record holders for most consecutive sub-.500 finishes, the Bucs are slowing losing ground.Â Â They sit four games under .500 Wednesday after dropping seven of their final 10 games in May.Â The preoccupation with ending â€śthe streakâ€ť has deflected attention away from some positive developments in the Steel City.Â Zack Duke has developed into a competent ML starter.Â A classic soft tosser, Duke weaves a tapestry, beguiling hitters with superior off speed pitches and pinpoint control while keeping the ball in the park (just four HRA in 79 innings).Â Itâ€™s been a recipe for success after he improved to 6-4 Tuesday while lowering his ERA to 2.62.Â Duke now boasts quality starts in eight of 11 assignments this season.Â Catcher Ryan Doumit, expected to provide some much needed clout this season, is rehabbing his broken right wrist.Â Although he has set his return for late June, team officials suggest he wonâ€™t be ready until after the All-Star break in July. Doumit has been on the disabled list since April 20 with the injury.Â
Playing .500 ball has become a moral victory of sorts for the San Francisco Giants.Â Following Tuesdayâ€™s action, their record stood dead even at 25-25.Â While that left them a hefty eight games behind the division-leading Dodgers, they are currently just four behind in the early NL wild card chase.Â The Giants have capitalized on winning at home, playing at a .667 clip (18-9) at AT&T Park.Â All eyes will be on starter Randy Johnson Wednesday as he takes the hill against Washington in search of historic win number 300.Â Johnson would become the 24th pitcher in big league history to reach that plateau and the first player in a Giants uniform to do it since the legendary Christy Mathewson in 1912 for the New York Giants.Â Tim Lincecum notched his 500th career strikeout Monday against the Nationals in his 69th career start.Â That enabled him to become the fastest Giants starter to reach 500 since 1900.Â Randy Winn is batting .366 (30-for-82) in his past 21 games with 15 runs scored and 11 RBI.Â With eight steals already, he is on pace to match last yearâ€™s total of 25.Â
The Weekender: Here are some intriguing pairings this coming weekend (June 5-7).
Rays at Yankees:Â Â Â The Rays need to reassert themselves in the division.
Rangers at Red Sox:Â Inter-divisional match up a potential playoff preview?Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Phils at Dodgers:Â Â Â Duking it out for NL supremacy.Â Â Â Â Â Â
Reds at Cubs:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The loss of Aramis Ramirez has devastated Chicagoâ€™s offense.