Skip asking about simple splints and pills, you want to talk about player injuries with reference to TRIPs, FOTs, ATCs, and the dreaded FLS, and the man you have to do that with is Will Carroll of "Under the Knife."
Will Carroll: Ok ... the coffee is on, the cigar is lit, and I'm sitting on the patio with the laptop in my lap. I'm taking the next 90 minutes off from writing for Football Outsiders Almanac and taking questions. First, go check out today's BPR ... I'll wait.
dianagramr (Cubehenge): Hi Will ... thanks for the chat as always.
So .... can clubs insist that amateur draftees submit to complete MRIs (especially the shoulders of pitchers ... cough cough ... Strasburg ..) prior to signing?
Will Carroll: Insist? No. Can they use it as a negotiating ploy? "Oh, don't want to take the MRI? That'll cost you ..." Most pitchers would. I'd still like to see something along the lines of a scouting combine. Yes, the draft would have to be pushed back a couple weeks and no, you'd never get everyone to come, but it would help. Absent that, I'd like to see someone out there (ASMI? Kerlan-Jobe?) giving a "gold star." We heard about Tanner Scheppers getting a sign-off from Lew Yocum, but it didn't really help him much it appears.
Jimmy (Chesapeake): Thanks for the chat. If the A's sign all of their picks, did they have among the top five drafts?
Will Carroll: Kevin Goldstein and I share a haircut, but sadly, not the knowledge in our niches. Having someone like Kevin who I can text with questions has made me a bit lazy with my minor league knowledge.
Mike (Chicago): Is there a real chance that Aramis Ramirez' injury will recur, will need surgery sooner rather than later, and that he won't contribute much this year at all?
Will Carroll: Chance? Yes. The shoulder has some internal damage and if it's lax, then yes, it could pop out again. I don't think they'll let him back if they feel there's a significant risk, but remember that the injury was a bit of a fluke. He fell in just the wrong way with the wrong force and pow, his shoulder's out.
KO (Pittsfield, MA): Justin Smoak is on the DL in the minors, but could the Rangers consider bringing him up if Davis continues to struggle over the next couple of weeks?
Will Carroll: I'm sure they've already considered it, but I don't expect them to do it. This franchise didn't get better by panicking. The fact that they have options and the problem of "too much talent" tells you how far they've come.
coleman (Chicago): Any word on Grady? What exactly is wrong with the elbow, btw?
Will Carroll: He's having an MRI today to determine the progress of rest and treatment. The Indians aren't saying, but the symptoms read like bursitis to me.
Walt (Atlanta, GA): Rank for their career's barring injury: Price, Kershaw, Hanson, Buchholz, and Strasburg.
Will Carroll: Top of head ... Price, Strasburg, Kershaw, Hanson, Buchholz. The diff in the top two is team (Rays better than Nats over next five years) and the diff in the next two is also team (Dodgers > Braves.) That's not the order I'd pick them in, but you don't really go wrong with any.
maybeofftopic365 (teaneck, nj): As a guy who has followed him for years, how did Ben Zobrist suddenly turn from minor league .300 hitter with very little power into a guy with 13 home runs so far? Change in approach, natural progression, or perhaps something more nefarious? Perhaps the question I'm really asking, is: Is accusing someone of performance enhancing drugs ever a reasonable assumption?
Will Carroll: DRaysBay did a big thing with his hitting coach. On the accusation, yes, that would be wrong. No one should ever say "this guy's doing steroids" without evidence. Now, could you wonder it? Absolutely. As the Raul Ibanez brouhaha has shown, some in the media didn't learn from the late 90's when we didn't ask questions. Ask the question, prove your case, let the athlete make his (and let me make a case for the Athlete's Passport here ...) Baseball fans are going to wonder. That's a price for lost trust, in the same way that a cuckolded spouse is going to wonder if his wife is really going to the store. It's not right, it's not comfortable, but it's how things work.
Farber (in my backyard): Have you heard any rumors about Mets trades? Please tell me they're working on something!
Will Carroll: I don't do rumors anymore. Rumors are by definition only mostly right and even though I miss it terribly, I'm not willing to risk the credibility of UTK and the work I do there. I learned my lesson.
BK (Terry's Turf Club): Hey Will,
Its ironic that Edinson Volquez and Josh Hamilton both had All-Star season last year and are both on the DL at the same time this season. Which player comes back stronger this season and whom would you select for "your team" for the rest of their career?
Will Carroll: I'll always pick the hitter (and I have Hamilton on my historically bad Tout team). Did you really think I'd take a pitcher off a Dusty-managed team?
Derek Martin (Denison, Iowa): My life has gone completely to hell since Alex Gordon got hurt, how is his rehab progressing?
Will Carroll: Pull it together, man! He's progressing well and I think we'll start hearing about a rehab assignment very soon. He's doing well in drills down in ... Surprise? I forget where KC is now. We're just not getting the blanket coverage that Alex Rodriguez got for the obvious reasons.
mattymatty (Philly): Thanks for the chat, Will. Is there much chance of an injury recurrence for the Hip Crew (Mike Lowell, A-Rod, etc.)?
Will Carroll: Good question and the answer is flat out, we don't know. I don't know, the doctors don't know, the players don't know. We have nothing to judge it on, the same way that Jobe and John didn't know what would happen after the first UCL replacement. (Did I mention you should go listen to BPR?) There's some guidance from other sports, but if I tell you skiers have good results, does that make you feel any better?
P Bu (St. Louis): What's the Athlete's Passport?
Will Carroll: Oh -- good question. The AP is a document that shows the date of each test and the result. WADA uses it with most Olympic athletes and it has to be presented at some tournaments to show "good standing." Baseball could do the same thing with a document or even a website. Wouldn't it have been better to have the Inquirer ask "hey, some blogger says you might have done steroids" and have Ibanez pull out a document that said "Ibanez, tested 3/23 clean, 5/10 clean" etc. Heck, just put up the negative results on MLB.com. I don't see a valid argument that a negative(clean) test would be an invasion of privacy. How about this -- instead of the crappy PSA's baseball has now, why not have Albert Pujols stand up on camera and show the fifteen or so negative tests he's taken. (Yes, you could say that Manny Ramirez also has a lot of negatives and that one positive ...)
Stan (Des Plaines): Thanks for taking the time, Will. When you see a dropoff in performance like Grady Sizemore earlier this year, or Geo Soto, or maybe a David Ortiz, is it safe to assume "something" is wrong physically?
Will Carroll: No, and absent evidence, it's just lazy. It's often right, but not always and even if it is, getting to it the lazy way might make you miss something. Process, not result.
Rob (Oakland): Will - heard anything on Pablo Sandoval's elbow? Is a return to 3B where he has increased value imminent?
Will Carroll: Yeah, he's been throwing and with Uribe out (and saying that makes me feel like I'm in a time machine ...) it's good timing.
Alan (Pomona): The last sentence of the UTK paragraph on the Astros reads, "This is bad." It's unclear to me if you were referring to Lee's injury specifically or to the multitude of Astro problems. Will Lee's problem linger, or will a week of DHing allow him to rest enough to get back in the OF soon?
Will Carroll: Oops. Apologies for the lack of clarity. That should be about the Astros. Wow, looks like I left in a note .... bad on me. The DHing should help and the conditioning issues aren't as big a deal as some make them out to be.
DanLong (Newark): Will, What the hell is the matter with Wang? is it mechanics? arm speed? leg strength? mental issues? he couldn't have just flat out lost it, could he? which way do the yankees go with this one, if you were in charge?
Will Carroll: I'd send him back down and see what happens. I have to think it all goes back to the foot.
Neal (Pittsburgh): Do you have a good player comp for Andrew McCutchen? Maybe a Crawford/Milledge combo.
Will Carroll: If I showed you a career line like this, would you like it or be disappointed?
dianagramr (Cubehenge): "How about this -- instead of the crappy PSA's baseball has now, why not have Albert Pujols stand up on camera and show the fifteen or so negative tests he's taken."
I can see it now, the newest roto category, "percentage of clean tests" ...
Will Carroll: Well ... that's kind of like saying a NASCAR driver needs a high percentage of left turns. It's that one right one that can screw things up.
dantroy (davis): How confident are you that Webb will be fine on his return?
Will Carroll: Not at all yet. I want to see more, specifically him on a mound. Amazing how he's gone from CC Sabathia to Ben Sheets in the space of a month.
Phil S. (NJ): Hey Will. Do you have any idea what Jose Contreras did during his demotion to AAA Charlotte to transform himself into 1995 Greg Maddux?
Will Carroll: No, and things like this are a great mystery. Teams credit their minor league coaches about as often as Apple credits an engineer.
tfierst (MN): I know you don't do minor league injuries, but by chance have you heard anything about Smoak's injury? Strained oblique? Timetable?
Will Carroll: Minor oblique strain. On the 7-day MiLB DL, they'll likely be very conservative.
Mike (Atlanta): Rank these guys on likelihood of returning to form this year: Votto, Sizemore, Hamilton.
Will Carroll: Reverse it. Hamilton we KNOW will be back and he's already ahead of schedule. Sizemore is maybe a minor surgery at worst. Votto ... well, if he comes back (yes if) then he's got to show he's past the dizziness and whatever issue pushed him to the DL. Maybe he comes back and starts hitting like he was, but there's so much uncertainty.
Jim (Portland): Should we expect inconsistency from Brad Lidge all season, or will letting him heal a few weeks get him on track?
Will Carroll: They're taking the chance that Madson can buy him the rest he needs to get the knee right. If you follow football, think Brian Westbrook '06.
Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): I know you have to be considerate of your sources and I know you've mentioned that the club was trying new ideas, but why do the Cardinals continue to have set backs in recovery times (Glaus, Rolen, Carpenter, Kinney, and etc) and what seems like a higher incident of re-injury (Lohse, Carpnter, etc)?
Will Carroll: If I knew I could publish Injury Database stuff without getting HIPAA-hammered, there's some interesting stuff on team patterns in there. I often say teams are conservative or aggressive, that they have strengths or weaknesses, but I'd love to put the data out there. That said, the Cardinals are pretty aggressive with rehabs and have more setbacks that average, but they also get some extra time out of that strategy.
Jim (Portland): Do you believe John Smoltz will be a front of the rotation add for the Red Sox?
Will Carroll: Front of rotation? No. Useful? Maybe. Better than Clay Buchholz or Michael Bowden? I don't understand that part of it. Look, I liked the plan of a three-headed rotation slot with Penny, Smoltz and Buchholz expected to throw 220 innings in some combination. It all went right - all three are effective, but why stick with it when there's suddenly a surplus? I have to think they'll trade Penny, though Buchholz's antics are starting to wear thin and he could bring a bigger return.
Mike (Chicago): Given the relative competitiveness of the NL Central, which team do you think has a distinct advantage in getting their players back faster from injuries? I mean an edge like that might be enough this year.
Will Carroll: Good question and from the data, it's tough to tell. The Brewers stats are skewed by Sheets and Gallardo, but I'd say they're likely the best at getting people back in the division, assuming we're ignoring the current DMA winners in Pittsburgh.
Randy (Ann Arbor, MI): Will! What pitch grip are you using in your Prospectus Idol photo. It looks like you are getting ready to throw your Rivera cutter.
Will Carroll: Gyroball!
DB (Denver): Will, kind of a baseball question I guess - I've heard that hormone therapy is a way to deal with anxiety/depression issues or, maybe this is just for women? Anyway, thoughts on this treatment and the potential impact it would have on PED testing?
Will Carroll: I'm not up on that but in the abstract, if that was the only plausible treatment, there is a waiver procedure for use of banned substances.
derek (ohio): Jake Westbrook is close to returning - what can we expect from him in half a season?
Will Carroll: I always worry just a little more about control guys coming back from TJS than I do power guys. I still think he'll be good, not great ... so typical Westbrook. I'm still stunned he got hurt.
Juan (Miami): You made a brief reference to Billy Wagner the other day. What are the odds he can help the Mets by mid August or so?
Will Carroll: Think more like Sept 1. Things going well so far and no reason to think he won't be a normal TJ rehab.
mattymatty (Philly): The Yankees can't send Wang down without exposing him to waivers, otherwise I'm sure they would have. But, my question is this: when you say that Clay Buchholz's antics are starting to wear thin, what antics are you referring to?
Will Carroll: "Hip imbalance."
Buchholz has a laundry list of things, but I'd really rather not get into the gossip. Saying you're not happy in the minors isn't the best way to impress the bosses, though.
Jim (Portland): Any word on Ben Sheets' rehab and team suitors?
Will Carroll: Still not throwing. Having a hard time believing he's going to help anyone before September, if at all.
johnpark99 (Boston): Hi Will. What kind of workload would YOU give Strasburg in 2010? The speculation of him being on the Opening Day roster might suggest that he takes on a full 200+ inning workload next year--concerned?
Will Carroll: I'll answer this, but I need to know how many innings he's thrown the last two years, total. College and Team USA (or any other stuff like that.)
Bob (NY): Is Ollie Perez's knee the cause of his issues this year? If so, do you expect he will be useful at some point later in the season.
Will Carroll: I think it's AN issue, not sure it's THE issue.
Joe (Washington, DC): Hi Will. At what point will be able to say that A-Rod is fully "back" after the hip surgery? A week or so? Next month? Not until next year/more surgery?
Will Carroll: Again, we don't know. Is Utley/Lowell/Rodriguez normal? Will we see the same from Gordon/Delgado/Myers? Even that data set isn't the same with half getting the Rodriguez hybrid-FAI.
By the way, the condition is known as Femoral-Acetabular Impingement. The fix is an arthroscopic labroplasty. Anyone have the acronym I'm going to start using?
Jim (Portland): Thanks for answering our questions and sweet gyroball, Will! Did Joe Mauer do some magic yoga or what to get over his back pain and become Babe Ruth?
Will Carroll: As with Contreras, we don't know. It's the opaqueness of baseball that makes us watchers sometimes seem like Kremlinologists, making educated guesses based on parade seats or in this case, an amazing month. Then again, it could be because I traded Mauer with Cliff Lee.
DB (DC): Tim Hudson due back later this year from TJ...starter or reliever...any word on his progress?
Will Carroll: September and role TBD. There have been the occasional mentions of John Smoltz when it comes to Hudson's return, but aside from the logo on their caps, I'm not sure they have much in common.
brian (Brooklyn NY): Loved your piece on painkillers in last year's PFP...any clues as to what your topic will be this year?
Will Carroll: Rehab. The boring, drawn out process I never write about. I just have to figure out how to make those 3000 words not so boring.
Pat (Long Island): Any word on Jose Reyes?
Will Carroll: Undergoing PRP, but aside from that, it's that boring time of the rehab where we have to wait and see.
johnpark99 (Boston): According to wiki, Strasburg pitched 97.3 for SDS and 11 for USA in 2008; then 109 for SDS in 2009.
Will Carroll: Wow ... so about the same both years. Didn't have much of a dropoff, but would be leaping some levels. Then again, Clay Davenport's translations looked pretty good, so we'll assume he wouldn't struggle too much. I'd be comfortable up to about 160. I'm ASSUMING that he could throw more, but didn't have an outlet but not by much. Let's say he could have safely gone another 20 innings somewhere, but that there was no place to do that. (It's also reasonable to assume he played fall ball, so this might be low.)
So having thought out loud, somewhere between 160 and 180. I'd make him the fifth starter and skip him here and there. I'd try to figure out how to give him more home starts as a side benefit.
scott (chicago): *IF?* Votto comes back? He's been hitting at the park for almost a week now, why *wouldn't* he come back?
Will Carroll: I think "if" is a safe way to look at it. We don't know what's going on, so we also don't know when or even if he's coming back. I do think he will, but I don't KNOW he will.
Stan (Philly): How is Carlos Delgado doing?
Will Carroll: He's spending a lot of time with the stationary bike and I heard he's lost some weight.
Jon (Stevenson): Have there been any serious injuries from broken bats?
Will Carroll: There was a coach who got impaled pretty good ... was that Pittsburgh? Someone in the minors got stuck too. Someone got cut pretty good, though the names are all escaping me.
comish4lif (Alexandria, VA): Given that after taking Strasburg #1, and committing their budget to him, they selected cheap, and signable picks at #10 overall and in the second round. Some players picked are already signing for well below slot.
How monumental of a mistake will this plan be if the Nats ultimately cannot sign Strasburg? Isn't this a recipe for disaster?
Will Carroll: There's an element of that to Storen, but I think it says that they realize they have to sign Strasburg. It's going to be a long summer waiting for him to sign on Aug 17.
Rob in WI (madison): So you'd rather not get into the Bucholtz gossip, but will still spread the "story" that the Red Sox are getting tired of antics? Um, thanks?
Will Carroll: Here, let me Google that for you ... http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/2009/06/what_about_buch.html
Wouldn't want you to end up in UTK with injured fingertips. Oh, and spellcheck is your friend.
Miguel (Cleveland): Twitter: good or bad for society?
Will Carroll: I like it, but then again I like interaction. I've always answered email and Twitter lends itself to more of a group discussion. I think Google Wave will change the game, but Twitter is just broadcast SMS. We all say "best thing since sliced bread" but whoever sliced bread didn't invent the knife or bread, he just put them together in a way people liked. That's Twitter.
Shane (Miami): As a Marlins fan, I can't believe how immature Ramirez has been acting? What are the reprecussions of his behavior, if any?
Will Carroll: I dunno -- maybe Fredi Gonzalez getting fired? If one of them has to go, which do you think it will be?
Bryan Smith (Chicago): Will: Just want to point out that Strasburg threw an additional 34 innings last summer with the collegiate national team. So he was at about 145 from Feb to Aug last year.
Will Carroll: Aha, there you go. I'll still keep the top end at 180 and would love to see him under that.
Marco (San Diego): Will, love the UTK column. On Peavy, I just read that he's already moved to a walking cast (today). Does that speed up the recovery time?? I think he'll be more cautious then the team (because of the team's necessity to trade him before the deadline). What do you think?
Will Carroll: If true, then no, I still think it's a minimum of eight weeks. There's no way he gets back before the deadline and no way he makes it through waivers either.
Carl (Michigan): Is there such thing as "injury prone"?
Will Carroll: Yeah, there probably is. It's just ill-defined and a tag we shouldn't just throw out. Rocco Baldelli is injury-prone, but there's a pretty good reason for it.
Chad (NYC): Kerwin Danley got smoked pretty good by a broken bat: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090422&content_id=4378524&vkey=news_tor&fext=.jsp
Will Carroll: That's another one.
larry (chicago): When/will shoulder labrum surgery ever approach the success rate for TJ? Also, are there any new techniques for any injury or surgery out there now that we should be watching?
Will Carroll: Never. The shoulder is a much more complex structure. The elbow is basically a hinge. FAIL (aha!) is the hot one now. If there's a next one, I think it's going to be the regrowth of knee cartilage, though it will be more important to football and basketball.
JW (Wyoming): Re: Broken bats and serious injuries. Former Dodger Steve Yeager ended up with pieces of a shattered bat in his neck.
Will Carroll: And invented the dangly throat protector ... did he patent that?
dcoonce (bloomington, indiana): With regards to Tommy John surgery, has there been any long-term negative affect noted on the ligament-less wrists?
Will Carroll: Good question ... I know some surgeons use the opposite wrist so it doesn't come into play, but no, I don't know of any.
Raul (San Antonio): Can you give any insight on the injury to Jarrod Parker? x-rays were negative, but what kind of impact can this have on a pitcher?
Will Carroll: In a really wacky game (http://www.al.com/baybears/mobileregister/index.ssf?/base/sports/124497100871650.xml&coll=3), Parker was hit on the wrist. They smartly put him on the DL (7-day) and brought up Chase Christianson, who's an interesting story though I'm not sure what the scouting reports say on him. Hell of a HS pitcher though. I don't think Parker will have any long term issues.
ElAngelo (NY, NY): How would you say BP Idol has gone so far? As well as you expected?
Will Carroll: Speaking just for myself, I'm excited. We've found some really good people and in something more exciting to me, it's people that I didn't know before. I'd honestly expected a lot of more well-known blogger types and instead it turned into something where people who just wanted to take their shot took it. There have been a couple disappointing elements to the contest but overall, I think it's done exactly what it was designed to do and we'll have one great writer added to the team in a couple weeks.
Mike (Florida): Would you ever recommend a young pitcher with a 90 mph fastball, dead-set on the majors but knows he won't make it, get TJ surgery if it can make him throw harder?
Will Carroll: I'm assuming you're just baiting me.
Jim Clancy (Exhibition Stadium): Toronto Blue Jays SP:
Disastrous run of bad luck that could have happened to anyone, or indication that the organization doesn't know how to keep the pitchers healthy and ready to go?
Will Carroll: Both, but I'd lean more to the latter. Why? Because they don't know any more about why it's happening than they did at this time last year, or the year before.
Will Carroll: Okay, that's it for me. I've hit my time and troll limits. Thanks for all the great questions. Be sure to check out BPR, BP Idol, my Twitter (@injuryexpert), and tell a friend about BP.