Injury wrapup

Disabled list moves up 16.3% the first half of the season

The first half of the 2007 season is in the books and the record DL moves pace of April continued all the way through the All-Star break. At the end of April, we reported that DL moves in 2007 were up more than 16% compared to last season. As of July 8, major league teams had made 350 DL months compared to 293 over the same time last year. We must also note that there are few players who are still out and they could be placed on the disabled list retroactively. So the increased rate in injuries compared to last season may be even higher.

  • There is a baseball adage that teams need to stay healthy to win and the surprising Milwaukee Brewers have made only seven DL moves to date. They are tied with the Houston Astros for the lowest number DL moves so far in 2007.
  • Entering the 2007 season, the Chicago White Sox were ranked first in fewest DL days the past five years with just 1,781. They already have made more DL moves this year with Scott Podsednik (twice), Darin Erstad and Joe Crede leading the way than all of last season.
  • The Oakland A’s have been in the news regarding injuries to Rich Harden and Huston Street and they have made a total of 15 DL moves so far. But that’s not the most by a team.
  • The leader at the All-Star break is the Kansas City Royals with 18 DL moves in the first half of the season. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because the Royals have a five-year DL total of 5,067 days and that ranked them 26 out of 30 teams.
  • Ditto for the Texas Rangers. They have 16 moves so far this season and they finished last in the five-year study with 6,110 DL days.

From Injury Watch July 18…
Rocco Baldelli (OF, TB)
Baldelli is doing a good job of campaigning that he will be back this year. He is currently on the 60-day DL with a strained left hamstring, an injury that occurred way back on May 17. One of the little tidbits that came out from his “news conference” was that he is changing the way he is running. He has shortened his stride in an effort to take the pressure off his hamstrings and the lower back.

As we saw with Jose Reyes and his chronic hamstring problems early in his career, this change can indeed make a difference and stop the string of hamstring injuries. Baldelli is running, and while he is not close to being activated, according to one source, it’s possible he could return sometime during the second half of August.

From Injury Watch July 17…
Derrek Lee (1B, CHC)
Last week, we looked at three hitters who had posted disappointing power numbers – Scott Rolen, Bobby Crosby and Todd Helton. I postponed including Lee in that group only because he was looking good at the plate, and I felt that a power burst was just around the corner.

Unlike the others, Lee has consistently hit for a high average for most of the season. He already has 28 doubles, and is close to his 50 double pace of 2005. The fact that he is hitting doubles and has a slugging percentage of .494, which is just a shade below his career average, is a positive. A lot of the doubles aren’t hustle doubles either—they are gappers and close to going out of the ballpark.

The one statistic that has caught my attention is his GB/FB ratio of 1.24. He is hitting a little more than 25% more ground balls now than he did in 2005 when he stroked 46 home runs. This suggests that he has altered his swing and is hitting down on the ball more often. Is this due to the wrist injury he suffered last May? That may help explain why he is hitting home runs only once in every 46 at-bats.

From Injury Watch July 19…
Jason Giambi (1B, NYY)
The word out of New York is that Giambi is about two weeks away from returning to the Yankees, as he recovers from a torn plantar fascia tendon. Before Giambi owners get all giddy about his return, there are a lot of factors involved. I have my doubts that the ruptured tendon has healed completely, and he is at risk to suffer a relapse sometime in the last third of the season. Also under consideration are all of the legal ramifications from his discussions with the investigation involving steroids.

While the Yankees could use Giambi’s OBP and power, the open DH slot has allowed manager Joe Torre to rest Johnny Damon and others all the while keeping their bats in the lineup. Lastly, the Yankees are playing good baseball, so will putting Giambi in the mix disrupt the momentum they have developed since the All-Star break? It is not a given that Giambi can stay healthy or will return to full-time role.

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