Big League Stew

Throwing Pains: Joe Mauer’s return date remains open

Rob Iracane
Big League Stew

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Welcome to Throwing Pains, your weekly run to the hot corner hospital to see what the Rx roll call looks like. I am not a doctor and I won't even play one on the web. Nope, it's up to the players to get hurt and for me to give them my wildly unprofessional diagnoses based on a semester of high school anatomy and a cursory knowledge of how to search the WebMD website.


To the DL!

Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins: John Shipley of the Pioneer Press caught up with the Twins star who hasn't played a game in over two weeks due to weakness in his legs. Mauer's knees were already tired in spring training and the flu he caught once the season started that caused him to lose 15 pounds only made his condition worse. With the illness kicked and his appetite returned (walleye-on-a-stick, anyone?), Mauer has only recently begun working out again, mostly training in the team pool.

Diagnosis: Wear your swimmies, Joe, because the state of Minnesota can't afford to lose you. The team has also lost offensive weapons Delmon Young and Jim Thome to ouchies. There is no timetable for Mauer to return to the team and, with the team holding the worst record in the American League, it might be too late for him to help once he does.

Phil Hughes, New York Yankees: The words "thoracic outlet syndrome" both mystify and strike fear into a baseball fan. It's a condition that sounds just as bad as it probably feels. The young Yankees pitcher might be the latest victim of the disorder that compresses the nerves in your arm due to repetitive motions. You know, like pitching.

What was initially diagnosed as a dead arm could turn out to be far more serious and not only affect Hughes' 2011 season, but his entire career. {YSP:MORE}

Diagnosis: If Hughes does indeed have thoracic outlet syndrome, he'll undergo surgery and join a small group of current and former pitchers like Aaron Cook, Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman. Cook and Rogers both bounced back from surgery and had All Star game appearances. Bonderman, however, had the surgery in 2008, returned briefly in 2010, but is currently out of baseball.

Joe Blanton, Philadelphia Phillies: Whew! It's a good thing Ruben Amaro stockpiled his team with starting pitchers because they've been dropping like flies the past week. With Roy Oswalt off to Mississippi to be with his family after the devastating storms that ripped through the South this week, the Phillies rotation is now two men down after Blanton hit the DL with a "right medial impingement," or what I call a wonky elbow. Last year, Blanton missed a few weeks with an oblique injury, which was poor timing since I'm positive that 2011 is the "Year of the Oblique."

Diagnosis: The long-term outlook for Blanton is bright! Even if he stumbles out of the gate when returning from this injury, he has all year to make adjustments. The Phillies pitching staff, however, is a veritable M*A*S*H unit, with three bullpen members already on the DL.

Erick Almonte, Milwaukee Brewers: He's merely a utility infielder, but Erick Almonte will go down in historical footnotes as the first MLBer to be placed on the seven-day DL for concussion symptoms. Almonte, who was hit smack in the forehead by an errant Craig Counsell throw during batting practice, was diagnosed with a Grade 1 concussion and sent home to sleep under supervision. Yeeouch, Counsell's his teammate! Friendly fire!

Diagnosis: Pity Erick Almonte! He'll probably recover quickly and hopefully won't suffer any symptoms past a week but can you imagine trying to sleep under supervision? Does that mean a doctor was hovering over his bed all night long? Creepy!

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Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers: Feliz heads to the 15-day DL with inflammation in the rotator cuff, a shoulder injury that could spell danger for a young pitcher. Rangers GM Jon Daniels headed off some criticism at the pass by saying he does not believe this injury is related to Feliz's spring training audition as a starting pitcher.

Diagnosis: With Omar Beltre, Mason Tobin and Darren O'Day already on the DL, the Rangers bullpen is thinning out quicker than Joe Buck's hairline.

Scott Rolen, Cincinnati Reds: The veteran third baseman has made enough visits to the disabled list in his career that he has hospital beds reserved for him in nearly every major league city. This time, Rolen strained his left shoulder, the same place he tore a labrum in 2005 while with the St. Louis Cardinals that caused him to miss most of the year. Unfortunately for Dusty Baker's Reds, Rolen's backup Juan Francisco is also on the DL right now. Maybe Juan and Scott can commiserate over some Skyline chili?

Diagnosis: After Rolen recovered from his labrum surgery six years ago, he returned the following season to win the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. Perhaps these couple weeks off will do him some good.

Angel Pagan, New York Mets: The Mets center fielder hasn't played since Thursday when he went down with an abdominal injury. But worry not, Mets fans! Oft-injured Jason Bay came back the same night and the team hasn't lost since. As for Pagan, he's been struck down with a strained left oblique muscle and is biding his time on the DL, just hoping that Carlos Beltran doesn't steal back the center fielding job.

Diagnosis: Rosy! Pagan strained the same muscle last year and despite what the Daily News says about oblique injuries being linked to Creatine use, he should recover quickly. Just lay off the supplements, Angel.

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