Baseball Injury Report

Welcome to This Week in BIR. Keeping up with the injury status of hundreds of players is a time consuming and difficult job. This Week in BIR and the Baseball Injury Report are here to help you keep up with all the injury news before your draft.

Featured Note of the Week

Here is a sample of one of 13 players to avoid on Draft Day in 2006 column.

Jayson Werth (OF, LA)
It’s gotten to the point that Werth is starting to look like former Ranger Rusty Greer. Always getting hurt and having trouble getting back to the team from the injury in average time, let alone ahead of schedule. Werth underwent surgery last November to repair damage to a tendon in his non-throwing hand. His recovery is measured in such small steps that the return date of late May is now in doubt.

There is no arguing his skills, only the fact he can’t stay healthy. In the past two-plus years, Werth has battled a strained oblique muscle, two broken ribs, and a broken bone in his left wrist and a strained ligament in his right elbow. Plan on a slower-than-expected recovery and he doesn’t return until very early in June. His wrist won’t be that strong either with the injuries he’s incurred the past two seasons. This is the second injury to his left wrist, likely reducing the overall strength for some time, maybe even all of the 2006 season. If he comes back earlier than I’m projecting, he’s likely to produce some empty numbers with a weak swing. Pass and look for an outfielder who can stay healthy and post decent numbers in 2006.

From Sunday’s Breaking News Announcements…

Brad Wilkerson (OF, TEX)
Last season, Wilkerson struggled with a sore right shoulder late in the season, after battling a nerve irritation problem in right forearm in the first half while with the Nationals. These ailments cut his OPS from.872 in 2004 to .756 last season. There haven’t been any signs of the forearm ailment so far but the shoulder soreness is back, and that’s a negative. The Rangers sent him out to a specialist on Saturday to have the shoulder checked out.

Wilkerson received a cortisone injection late last year then again after Texas acquired him in the winter. The MRI last year did not show any structural damage which led to the decision last year not to have surgery. If you are drafting on March 25, the results of the latest exam won’t be known when your draft on Sunday. There is enough evidence to point to a relapse of some degree of the same shoulder pain he had late last year. Draft with caution; he may have some sort of chronic condition at the moment.

Sample From the Injury Speculator Column…

Mike Mussina (RHP, NYY)
In Mussina’s Monday outing, Mussina’s line score looked like a 21-year-old rookie. He allowed 12 hits, 10 runs in 4 2/3 innings of work. He was knocked around hard. Manager Joe Torre left him in the game because Mussina needed to get his work in. The outing before, it was vintage Mussina. In five innings, he allowed just three hits, no runs and struck out eight. After the latest outing, Mussina stated it’s the best control and command he’s ever had in a Spring Training game. What changed in the five days between outings?

The Yankees and Torre said nothing. Veteran observers indicated his command was off in the latest start, with the veteran hurler searching for a pitch he could get over the plate and in the right location. Maybe it was just a bad outing where Mussina was motivated just to get his work in, or maybe it was physical. The Yankees deny that point. If you remember late last year, Mussina struggled with a tender elbow.

The ultra-durable right-hander has never had a major injury. However, some pitchers with elbow issues will look like Cy Young one outing and can’t find the plate or their command is way off the next. His two latest starts in spring training follow that track. More good-bad outing trends, especially with a noticeable drop in strikeouts could signal the elbow is giving him problems again.

From Injury Watch Notes This Past Week…

Carl Crawford (OF, TB)
A few weeks ago, I voiced major concerns regarding Crawford and his ailing left wrist. He was after all complaining of pain ranked as a four on a 1-10 scale. This was surprising since he focused his offseason on resting then building up the strength in his troublesome left wrist. With a lot of drafts coming up this weekend, I’ve had numerous requests for an update. I’ve delayed for a simple reason: I’m getting conflicting information. The baseball source that has seen him in the spring and indicates he was favoring the wrist. The public message we are getting from Crawford and the D-Rays is the wrist is fine.

So where do I stand on Crawford right now? I’m not as concerned as I was a few weeks ago because he’s played, albeit not very well, and the wrist seems to be holding up. The risk is still there and the issue is how do you replace him if the wrist breaks down during the season? He could miss eight weeks with a fractured bone in the hand. If you end up making a $40 investment/first round selection in him, you’ll end up losing money on him in 2006.

My style is to avoid risk on draft day. If you aren’t as risk adverse as I am and need speed then Crawford has that ability to dominate a league by himself. I’d focus on a player with less risk and look for my stolen bases somewhere else.

Craig Counsell (SS, ARI)
Counsell got into the lineup on Tuesday as the D-Backs DH. He’s then expected to play in the field on Thursday versus the Seattle Mariners. He is receiving treatment for a slightly torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Thursday’s game will be a significant test of the shoulder. Even if he passes the test this week one has to wonder if he’s risking further injury and surgery by playing now. Maybe Counsell feels he has nothing to lose by giving it a go early in the 2006 season. If it tears, well he was going to need surgery anyway after the 2006 season was in the books. Any player with a labral tear is a risky investment, as is Counsell on draft day.

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