Results tagged ‘ injuries ’
A man of little words, Chase Utley has always preferred to do his talking with a bat. But this season, the bat will remain silent as Utley attempts to recover from a potentially long-term injury.
Utley’s chronic knee pain has been found to be the result of patellar tendinitis, bone inflammation and chondromalacia. And that does not just sound scary, it is scary.
Hesitant to speak about the issue, Utley has dodged reporters all through spring training. Luckily, he did not need to depend on the knee to do the dodging.
But when he did finally speak, very little was made any clearer. Utley referred to making “some progress” but still has no time table for a return. And when asked which doctors he had seen, Utley’s response was, “ If I tell you I have to kill you.”
While that dry sense of humor is charming, it brings him no closer to a solution. Surgery seems to risky and may actually do more harm than good. Odds are that Utley will return at some point and likely struggle through the season in some pain.
And so Utley remains a bit mysterious. Incidentally, the word “mysterious” is defined as “Difficult or impossible to understand, explain, or identify; Having an atmosphere of strangeness or secrecy.” Yup, that about sums it up.
As for the rest of the team, they are on their way back to Philly to play two exhibition games Tuesday and Wednesday before Opening Day on Friday. Questions still linger about the Phillies. Will Luis Castillo make the team? Who will be in the bullpen? And will Jenn absolutely freak out when the full reality of Utley’s absence hits her on Friday? Stay tuned…
Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography
With pain in his right shoulder, closer Brad Lidge will start the 2011 season on the disabled list. With Lidge’s long history of injuries, this new issue should be a huge red light to the Phillies that Lidge’s time is close to being over.
Lidge was especially concerned with this new injury saying, “I haven’t had shoulder problems in the past.” Although, Lidge has had surgery on both knees multiple times, elbow surgery, an oblique strain, a strained intercostal muscle and bicep tendinitis, just to name a few.
Still, Lidge entered spring training boasting that he was healthy and felt great. Exactly when that may have changed is hard to tell. Lidge is an eternal optimist so what he says should maybe be taken with a grain of salt.
Here is a little help for those who cannot always decipher what Lidge is talking about.
The Brad Lidge Translator
Lidge Says: I feel great.
Lidge Means: The pain is unbearable!
Lidge Says: I am not concerned.
Lidge Means: I am totally freaking out here!
Lidge Says: No need to panic.
Lidge Means: Red alert, red alert…PANIC!!!
Lidge Says: It is a setback.
Lidge Means: This is the END of my career!
Lidge Says: This is disappointing.
Lidge Means: I am going to crawl into a hole with a vat of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and eat and cry until I vomit.
With Lidge out of the picture, closing duties will fall either to Ryan Madson or Jose Contreras. While it is good to know the Phillies have options, this does create major issues in the bullpen. The Phillies failed to re-sign Chad Durbin, which may come back to haunt them as they now have to rely on less experienced arms in the middle innings.
The Lidge injury is magnified when you think about the loss of Chase Utley, Domonic Brown and questions still lingering about Placido Polanco’s elbow.
So, should Phillies fans be worried? The short answer is, not yet.
The team seems to have back-up for Utley. Luis Castillo finally got a hit today and also walked twice while showing solid defense in the field. Wilson Valdez continues to impress as well.
As for Brown, Ben Francisco is doing well in what may have been Brown’s spot in the outfield. John Mayberry Jr. is also capable and the two may wind up rotating in right field.
Another good sign is that Polanco did play today in the 3-1 victory over the Braves. Polly looked a bit tentative and was sore after the game, but he expects to play again on Sunday. Or perhaps, much like Lidge, I am being a tad too optimistic about all this? I hope not.
Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography
Hearts stopped all over Phillies nation today as pitcher Roy Oswalt fell to the ground after appearing to get hit in the head with a line drive. Always cool under pressure, Oswalt adjusted his cap as he lay on the ground awaiting assistance.
Oswalt walked off the field as if nothing happened but was taken to the hospital as a precaution. Both X-Rays and CAT-Scans were negative.
As it turns out, the ball just barely missed a potentially dangerous area and hit just below the right ear, leaving him with a neck contusion. Had Manny Ramirez hit the ball any harder though, it may have been a lot worse.
The good news is that Oswalt’s head is apparently made of bricks.
The really good news is that he should be fine and is expected to make his next scheduled start. Whew!
So while Oswalt had a near miss in the 4-1 loss to the Rays, Luis Castillo had a total miss. In his first appearance as a Phillie, Castillo went 0-4 at the plate while grounding out twice, lining out and hitting a soft pop-up. He also left four men on base.
One can only assume that the strikeout for Castillo will come in tomorrow’s game as he finishes up demonstrating all the different ways to make an out.
Just to recap, Castillo was given a second chance by the Phillies after being tossed out like the trash by the Mets. He then proceeds to show up two days late to camp with lame excuses. When finally put into a game, Castillo showed the Phillies nothing. Basically, he sucked.
There are only seven games to go for Castillo to show he is better than Wilson Valdez, who should get the job in place of Chase Utley as he has earned it. But alas, the charade will go on as games continue.
Then again, at the rate injuries have come this spring for the Phillies, maybe they should just sit all the roster players and let the minor leaguers play the final spring games.
The regulars should be instructed to cover themselves in bubble wrap and avoid all sharp objects or anything moving at rate faster than 0.5 MPH.
Pretty much, contact should be limited only to turtles who have had their claws clipped and jaws muzzled.
Although, that sounds a bit cruel to the turtles so, let’s make it goldfish. Yeah, goldfish are pretty harmless, right? Wait…both turtles and goldfish can carry Salmonella, which can infect humans! Damn it! No one is safe!
And that is your animal science lesson for the day. Now, back to the bubble wrap…
Those who were hoping for an Opening Day miracle in the form of a healthy Chase Utley are going to be sorely disappointed. The signing of veteran second baseman, Luis Castillo, to a minor league deal means that Utley may be down for a long time.
This move seems like the Phillies are taking out the Mets trash in the hope of turning it into treasure. But Castillo was just released from the Mets for poor performance and a poor attitude. The move cost the Mets $6 million to eat Castillo’s contract. With that in mind, they must have wanted him gone very badly.
Once upon a time, Castillo was a very good player. But this 35-year old is coming off a season where he hit only .235 with 17 RBI and played just 86 games due to injuries.
And guess what body part gives Castillo the most issues? His legs, more specifically knees, ankles and feet, have been trouble for Castillo for many years now. So the Phillies are trying to replace a second baseman with a bad knee with another second baseman with a bad knee?
There are at least four guys already in camp with the Phillies who can replace Utley temporarily. This includes Wilson Valdez, Michael Martinez, Josh Barfield and Pete Orr. All have hit well, especially Valdez who is batting .419 in 43 at-bats.
But the Castillo contract is low-risk as the Phillies have to pay him less only $414,000 if he makes the 25-man roster. However, can they accurately assess Castillo’s play with only nine games to go?
This move stinks of desperation from a team that has maxed out its payroll. And it also does not bode well for the present or future of Utley.
Clearly, the knee issue is much worse than anticipated. And the fact that surgery has not been done yet is an even bigger red flag. If the Phillies are so worried that surgery could make matters worse, then Utley’s future, even beyond 2011, is a huge question mark too.
Hang on, Phillies fans. This is going to be a very long and very strange trip through the 2011 season.
Photo by Eric Kilby, Wikimedia Commons
The list right now has 12 pitchers, although the Phillies could add David Herndon and go with 13. Kyle Kendrick has not had a good spring, but the Phils are paying him too much to send him back to AAA. It could happen, as Herndon has been pretty good, but it is unlikely.
What is more probable is that the Phillies will choose to carry an extra infielder or utility player because of the Chase Utley situation. Odds are very good that Utley will start the season on the disabled list with Wilson Valdez filling in at second base. However, this still leaves an extra roster spot open.
The list above includes Michael Martinez, who has played well enough to earn a spot and he plays multiple positions. Plus, Martinez is a Rule 5 player. If the Phillies do not put him on the roster, they have to offer him back to the Nationals. With the way Martinez has played, the Nationals would probably take him back.
That leaves one bench spot for either Pete Orr, Josh Barfield or Delwyn Young. Barfield has been very good at the plate, hitting .355 with three doubles and a triple. He is also speedy, which is a plus.
But Barfield’s main weakness appears to be defense. While he has not committed any “official” errors, Barfield has fumbled the ball more than once. In Saturday’s match-up with the Orioles, Barfield dropped an easy double play ball, did not get any outs and left Cole Hamels hanging. Hamels was having a rough day to begin with, so this did not help.
As for Orr, he is experienced and can play second, third and a little outfield. Orr is batting .343 with three doubles and three triples this spring. Orr also strikes out less than Barfield and Young, but his fielding is average.
That leaves Young, who is intriguing because he can play almost anywhere. However, his fielding is not very good. A lifetime .258 hitter, Young is batting .298 with one home run, seven RBI and two doubles this spring. He is probably the least likely to make the team.
However, there are still nine games left in Florida and two exhibition games in Philadelphia before the season begins. Each player still has time to make a big push towards earning a roster spot.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In yesterday’s spring training game against the Astros, pitcher Cole Hamels had words with second baseman Bill Hall. Hamels threw a pitch up and in which did not even come that close to Hall, but he apparently took offense.
Hamels blew off the incident saying Hall was a “good guy.” Hall reacted a bit differently. According to the veteran infielder, “He’s (Hamels) definitely a marked man for me now. So when I do some damage off him I’m going to let him know I did some damage off him. I guarantee that. I’m not going to let him disrespect me. If you disrespect me I’m going to do my best to disrespect you back.”
In nine years in the majors, Hall is a lifetime .250 hitter. I am not sure what “damage” Hall is referring to and I am guessing we will not find out anytime in this decade. For a 31-year old, below-average player, these are certainly very immature remarks. Hall is not worthy to lick Cole’s muddy cleats.
The grocery list of Phillies player injuries has just grown a bit longer. It began with Chase Utley’s bum knee, moved on to a broken hand bone for Domonic Brown, a sore neck for Ben Francisco and now, Brad Lidge has joined the party.
According to Phillies sources, Lidge has bicep tendinitis. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said, “He generally has it in the spring,” indicating that this is business as usual for Lidge. The Phillies insist it is not serious. Then again, we have heard that one before.
There are also reports that Lidge’s fastball is not up to speed. Combined with his injury history and the fact that he has yet to get through an entire spring training with the Phillies healthy, there may be reason for concern.
Speaking of Lidge’s history, did you know that Lidge missed parts of his first four professional seasons, from 2002 to 2005, with a variety of injuries? These included a torn rotator cuff, right shoulder tendinitis and a broken forearm that almost ended his career.
Here is a closer look at some of Lidge’s injury history:
- 2002, a strained intercostal muscle near the rib cage.
- December 2003, arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
- June – July 2005, shut down with elbow issues.
- May 2007, bone bruise on his right femur near his knee.
- June – July 2007, left oblique strain.
- October 2007, surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee.
- February 2008, tore the meniscus in the same knee he just had surgery on during his first pitch off a mound in spring training.
- June 2009, sprained right knee and a sore elbow, specifically the flexor pronator tendon.
- January 2010, surgery on both the elbow and the right knee again.
- March 2010, the elbow is still an issue and Lidge gets a cortisone injection.
- March 2011, bicep tendinitis.
While history does not always predict the future, the long list of injuries is a bit scary. The amount of time Lidge has missed is an issue as well.
Of the top ten closers in baseball who remained basically healthy in 2010, the average number of innings pitched for each closer was about 68.2 innings per year. Lidge pitched only 45.2 last year and 58.2 in 2009.
The current injury for Lidge may indeed be nothing to worry about. Phillies fans certainly hope that is the case. But at the rate Phillies players are dropping, any injury is scary.
Adding to the Phillies woes, Placido Polanco left a spring game early today after hyperextending the same elbow he had surgery on this offseason. Just like Lidge, the Phillies say he is not expected to miss much time.
For both Lidge and Polanco, many are hoping that history will not repeat itself.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies played two games today in split squad action. Kyle Kendrick started against the Rays in Clearwater and Vance Worley took the mound against the Pirates in Bradenton.
Worley did well and allowed just one run over 3.1 innings on two hits and two walks while striking out five batters.
Kendrick, on the other hand, looked good for two innings but was then slammed with three homers from lefties in his final two innings. The five runs Kendrick surrendered contributed to a 6-2 Phillies loss.
While it is only spring training, the question of whether or not Kendrick can get left-handed batters out still remains. In four seasons with the Phillies, Kendrick has been consistently inconsistent. The issues with lefties, a sinker ball that does not always sink and Kendrick’s tendency to become frustrated on the mound are concerning.
With all the experience he had gained over the years, the time for Kendrick to get it together into one complete package may be now or never.
Worley, 23, is younger and has less experience. But in the long run, he may turn out to be the better pitcher between the two. In 13 innings with the big club last year, Worley posted a 1.38 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. His minor league lifetime WHIP is 1.280.
In addition, Worley has a variety of pitches including both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, slider, curve and cut fastball.
It is possible that Worley will have outpitched Kendrick by the end of spring. If so, do the Phillies go with Worley or stick with experience in Kendrick?
There is a different possibility as well. If another bullpen pitcher bombs, like Danys Baez for example, there could be room for both players. This also gives the Phillies additional options in the case that a starting pitcher gets injured. Although, having two long-men in the bullpen seems unlikely as Worley could easily be recalled from the minors if needed.
With only a few weeks left this spring, both pitchers will need to bring their A-games.
Amaro’s Contract Extension
Earlier today, Ruben Amaro Jr. signed a four-year contract extension with the Phillies. Amaro has been with the Phillies organization for a very long time and it appears that will not end anytime soon.
Amaro played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and again from 1996 to 1998. Right after that, he moved to the Phillies front office, serving as Assistant GM until being promoted to GM at the end of the 2008 season. Amaro grew up in Philadelphia and his father, Ruben Amaro Sr., also played for the Phillies for six seasons.
Chase Utley’s Knee
The Phillies have issued a statement that Chase Utley has made “a small improvement” in his rehab after suffering patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation this spring.
The news is underwhelming.
However, a newspaper cartoonist had another take on the subject:
It seems he feels like Utley is comparable to Humpty Dumpty. Quick, get the Super Glue!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Cartoon from The Dover Post
Earlier today, the Phillies finally got the deal done with manager Charlie Manuel. The two-year extension will take him through the 2013 season.
In a press conference, Manuel expressed his desire to stay with the Phillies until he leaves baseball. Manuel discussed other teams he has worked with and then stated, “I’m a Phillie. If I cut my arm it’s going to be red blood, not blue.”
Well, unless Charlie is a horseshoe crab or an octopus, I am pretty sure he bleeds red. But seriously, it is great to have a guarantee for Charlie before the season starts.
During Manuel’s time in Philly, the team has the best record in the National League. Manuel has won 544 games with the Phillies plus four division titles, one league title and , of course, the 2008 World Series Championship.
Spring Training Update
The Phillies are plugging along through spring training despite losing both Chase Utley and Domonic Brown to injuries. Utley is still out indefinitely. Brown had successfully surgery to remove the hamate bone in his hand and is expected to play again in four to six weeks.
Today, Roy Halladay pitched six scoreless innings against the Yankees, allowing only four hits. Halladay was sharp and used his curve ball more than usual in preparation for the season.
While winning by a score of 7-0, the Phillies saw contributions from several lesser-known players. One of those players, Josh Barfield, went 2 for 3, including a triple today. He is hitting .538 in 13 at-bats so far this spring. Barfield is a second baseman who spent parts of four seasons in the majors with the Indians and Padres. He hit .294 with 36 RBI last year in the Indians AAA club.
Barfield has been impressive, which may be of great importance now that Utley’s future is uncertain. Wilson Valdez is an option as well, but it could not hurt to have an extra infielder right now.
Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography
Those already panicking over Chase Utley’s knee problems were given more fuel to add to the fire today. The Phillies announced that not only does Utley have patellar tendinitis, he also has chondromalacia and bone inflammation.
Utley has had both patellar tendinitis and chondromalacia in the past. So the recurrence of these issues plus the fact that the cortisone injection did nothing is very, very bad news. In a fantasybaseball.com article, a former athletic trainer states, “…inflammation of the bone, which generally means that the cartilage has completely worn away in spots and Utley’s knee now has portions where bone is rubbing directly on bone.”
Because both rest and cortisone have not helped, the outlook for recovery is grim. The Phillies plan to exhaust all non-surgical options, but those options may be slim.
And if Utley had these symptoms right at the start of spring training, that raises some questions. Did Utley have the same symptoms during his offseason workouts? And if so, why did he not seek help earlier? He could have had surgery in the offseason and saved months of possible playing time.
And now that the Phillies are trying to avoid surgery, that may just be postponing the inevitable. This is also wasting more time if he does eventually need surgery.
According to multiple medical sites and patient testimonies, the rest time needed for non-surgical recovery from chondromalacia, also known as “runners knee,” is listed as “months,” not weeks. If rest will take months to help, why not just do the surgery and get it over with?
This is obviously a frustrating scenario all around. If Utley is going to be out for an extended period of time, the Phillies need to know as soon as possible. Either they will hand the job to Wilson Valdez or they need to look elsewhere for help.
Either way, it is bad news for the Phillies.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
While hitting a foul ball in Saturday’s spring training game against the Pirates, Domonic Brown fractured the hamate bone in his right hand. Oddly enough, his very next swing after breaking the bone resulted in his only hit in spring action through 16 at-bats.
Several baseball players have had this very same bone removed in the past. Some of those include former Phillie, Jim Thome and Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia. Apparently, the hand is just fine without this bone, although recovery from the surgery could take four to six weeks.
This may be a blessing in disguise for Brown who was struggling badly to adjust his swing and make the Phillies roster before the end of camp. Time off to reflect on his issues may be a good thing.
In the meantime, the job in right almost certainly will go to Ben Francisco, although the Phillies will not dub anyone the winner just yet.
Thus far, the injury bug has bitten twice for the Phillies in spring training; first Chase Utley and his bum knee, then Brown. Utley is still recovering from a cortisone injection and it will be several more days before any more is known about his knee.
On the bright side, the Phillies pitching staff looks fantastic! Cliff Lee appeared to be almost in mid-season form against the Rays today over four innings. And on Saturday Roy Halladay threw three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.
In the bullpen, JC Romero pitched today and looked very, very sharp. After going 3-0 on the first batter, he came back to strike the guy out and then mowed down the next two batters in order.
Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras also seem to be moving along well. Neither has surrendered a run yet.
Other roster hopefuls are not having much success though. Eddie Bonine has allowed seven runs in four innings of work. J.C. Ramirez has allowed four runs in five innings. However, most of these guys were not expected to make the team anyway.
Spring action continues tomorrow when the Phillies see the Yankees again. Game time is 1:05pm.
Illustration by Wikipedia