Baseball Injury Report

April 2007 injuries were up more than 15% from last season

If you thought there were a lot of injuries in the first month of the season, you weren’t mistaken. Last year, major league teams made 142 disabled list moves the first month. This year, there were 168 moves, with a chance for a couple more if several teams make retroactive moves back into April. That’s a 15.4 % increase from last year.

Year		DL Moves
2002		165 (162 players)
2003		135 (131 players)
2004		136 (134 players)
2005		140 (139 players)
2006		142 (140 players)
2007		168 (165 players)

You have to go back to April 2002 (165) to approach the number of DL moves that we saw in April 2007. Between April 2002 and 2007, the DL moves remained pretty constant from 135-142.

Why the noticeable jump?
We can’t blame it on steroids or performance-enhancing drugs. The new policy of better testing went into effect before the start of last season, and if the supposed usage dropped in 2006 and 2007, we should have seen a sharp decrease in injuries.

Blame it on the weather!
While it was colder than usual in the East and Midwest, April always provides us with a few cold spells and surprise snow storms. This April, the weather definitely impacted the game, but how do you quantify injuries and their possible connection to the weather? You can’t.

Injuries run in cycles and this just happened to be an injury filled April?
Granted injuries do run in cycles; just ask the Yankees. They’ve had their share of hamstring injuries and it cost the strength and conditioning coach his job.

The 14.4% increase is on the border when it comes to putting the blame on the normal cycles of baseball. If we see another 10% or more increase in April injuries (over 2006), then we have proof that the rate of injuries, at least in April, is changing. If April 2008 reverts back to the recent “normal range” of 135-142, then we can blame the surge on a typical cycle and nothing more.

Why did it seem like there were a lot of injuries in April?
When John Bale goes on the DL and we see his name in the agate type in our local paper or on the transaction list on our favorite baseball website, it doesn’t leave much impression in our memory. However, if Rich Harden develops a sore pitching shoulder, most fantasy players take notice. From a fantasy baseball perspective, it’s not how many players land on the DL but who.

When most of the Yankees’ starting rotation spends time on the DL in April, people notice. Throw in the names like Felix Hernandez, Eric Gagne, Chone Figgins, Scott Podsednik, Jeremy Hermida, Jason Schmidt and Chris Carpenter, to name a few high profile April injuries, and fantasy owners suffer.

April 2007 Injury Notes

  • Carl Pavano’s trip to the disabled list surprisingly is only his third in the past two-plus seasons.
  • Only three Chicago White Sox players (Jim Thome, Scott Podsednik and Toby Hall) spent time on the DL in April. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. From 2002-2006, the White Sox recorded the fewest DL days in the majors with 1,781. Kudos to the medical staff and front office.
  • Strained and torn oblique injuries seem to be on the increase, yet there were only five in April.
  • Of the 163 players to land on the DL in April 2007, 63.8% were pitchers. The past six Aprils, pitchers made up between 56-66% of the players landing on the DL.
  • The Florida Marlins made 10 DL moves in April, the highest of any team. In our five-year DL study, the Marlins finished 10th with 3,384 DL days. Last April, they had only two players placed on the disabled list. Did the odds catch up with them?
  • Officially speaking, Mark Prior is not listed on the Cubs DL for April because he was sent to Triple-A (he’s on the Triple-A DL). Starting in 2004, he’s been hurt and on the DL every April.

From Injury Watch May 4, 2007…

Adam Loewen (LHP, BAL)
Loewen has had pain in his pitching elbow region and forearm but the medical staff didn’t know the cause originally. Now they do—a stress fracture in the left elbow. He didn’t start feeling pain in his elbow until the middle of April, suggesting the fracture didn’t develop in spring training.

Loewen will need around eight weeks to allow the bone to heal. Then he’ll resume throwing, needing four to six weeks after resuming activities before he’s activated. This would put his return sometime during August. Any kind of setback pushes his return into September.

From the Baseball Injury Report’s Breaking News on Saturday, May 5, 2007…

Chris Carpenter (RHP, STL)
It was just a few days ago that the Cardinals were hinting that Carpenter would be back pitching for them this week. However, after his last simulated outing in Milwaukee, the elbow swelled up the next day. This is the same scenario that happened last month and landed him on the DL. The bone spurs in his pitching elbow were disrupting the tissue and elbow joint enough that it would swell up after a throwing session.

He’ll have arthroscopic surgery this week to remove the bone spurs. The current projection has him out at least three months. Doing the math regarding his rehab, throwing sessions and rehab outing, we shouldn’t see Carpenter back in a Cardinals uniform until early-to-mid August. By all accounts, the ulnar collateral ligament is intact and will not need any surgical repair during the surgery.

From Injury Watch May 3, 2007…

Scott Podsednik (OF, CHA)
Podsednik’s recovery from a strained right adductor muscle is going much more slowly than first projected. He went on the DL April 16. When the injury occurred, it was projected he would miss around four weeks. That timetable has been extended to eight weeks based on manager Ozzie Guillen’s information. One veteran White Sox observer speculated the team is being extra cautious in his recovery to make sure he regains all the flexibility and strength in his legs and lower abdomen. They don’t want Podsednik to develop another sports hernia.

Mental Health and the CBA
A particular bit of language in the latest CBA could have negative consequences for some players.

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