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Archive for March, 2007

Tigers Kenny Rogers Out Until July After Blood Clot Removed

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

The New York Mets are now not the only team to have wait on it’s ace until July.  The Mets are waiting on their ace Pedro Martinez to come back after last season’s surgery.

      Pedro Martinez     Kenny Rogers     Kenny Rogers

Now, an AP post for ESPN reports that the Detroit Tigers also will apparently have to wait at least until July for their veteran star  Kenny Rogers (17-8, 3.84 ERA in 2006) due to surgery on Friday to remove a blood clot from his left shoulder and to repair arteries.

The report continues;

“We might have been the only club in baseball with five established starters,” Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said. “It’s an edge we have here and all we did was lose a little of the edge. We still have a great club with four established starters and a strong bullpen.”

Rogers, a 42-year-old left-hander, was flown to Baylor University in Texas, where Dr. Greg Pearl performed the surgery. Rogers is expected to start throwing in six to eight weeks, and Dombrowski said the earliest Rogers would return to the rotation is July.

Rogers reported arm fatigue to trainers late Wednesday and received treatment at a Lakeland hospital. Tigers officials said at first that he would miss only one start, but the pitcher was put on the 15-day disabled list Thursday after doctors found an irregular pulse.

He… gained notoriety during the postseason when he had a patch of dirt on his pitching hand.  He won all three of his postseason starts and didn’t allow a run in 23 innings.

Rogers was 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in five exhibition starts.

MLB.com’s Jason Beck adds background on Rogers’ shoulder woes, surgery and possible rehab time;

The 42-year-old Rogers was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with what was then listed as a fatigued arm. The original diagnosis was a blood clot, but the Tigers hoped it would be easier to repair.

President/CEO/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Thursday that the team hoped it wasn’t a long-term injury. Those hopes were dashed once Rogers had further examination from Dr. Greg Pearl, a specialist based out of Baylor University.

“The treatment of the blood clot was done a little bit differently than what we might’ve had happen if it was a shorter term,” Dombrowski said. “There was some thought, until they went in there, that perhaps they could treat that blood clot differently than what they ended up doing.”

Instead of a minor procedure, doctors had to do some artery replacement. The operation removed a clot and repaired both the axillary and brachial arteries. The brachial artery runs down the arm before splitting into two arteries. The axillary artery is located in the upper chest and runs blood to the head and arms.

Dr. Pearl had previous experience with Rogers, having performed surgery to clear an artery in the same part of the shoulder back in 2001. That procedure involved removing a rib that was pinching shoulder muscles and blocking an artery, diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome. Ironically, that was the last trip to the disabled list for Rogers, who hadn’t missed a turn through the rotation since 2005.

Rogers will be under complete rest for about a month and is expected to resume throwing in 6-8 weeks. Given that timetable, Dombrowski said, “It’s probably three months until you would anticipate him back starting at the Major League level, somewhere around there. This is not a real common injury, so we’re dealing with an unusual circumstance.”

The Tigers still have one of the premier and deepest pitching staffs in baseball and are still expected to be strongly contest for the AL Central Division championship in the upcoming season.  The pine tar is not necessary!

Boston Sweeps Phillies in Weekend Warm-up Series for Opening Day

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

The Phillies and the Boston Red Sox locked up in weekend series at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Stadium which served as a warm-up for each club’s Opening Day on Monday, April 2.

On Friday night, young lefthander Cole Hamels started and got pounded for 5 runs on 4 home runs over his 5 innings of work and Phillies bats fell fallow, aside from 1st baseman Ryan Howard scoring on 3rd baseman Wes Helm’s doubleplay ball as Boston took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the 9th.  Boston won the game by a 6-5 score as the Phillies rallied late but couldn’t come all the way back.

Hamels, who was charged with the loss, gave up single runs in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings on solo shots by leftfielder Manny Ramirez, 2nd baseman  Dustin Pedroia and rightfielder J.D. Drew respectively and a two-run shot to 1st baseman Kevin Youkilis in the 5th inning.  Hamels gave up a total of 6 hits, walked none and struck out 4 during his stint.  The Phillies bulpen largely shut the door on Boston, aside from the one run in the 7th inning off of reliever Clay Condrey which turned out to be the game winner — an RBI single by infielder Alex Cora.  Phils Relievers Joseph Bisenius,  Ryan Madson and Tom Gordon held Boston hitless in the 6th, 8th and 9th innings respectively.

In the meantime, Boston’s starter Julian Tavarez pitched a solid 5 2/3 innings giving up just 1 run on 6 hits and striking out 2 and reinforcing his his wish come true, a place in Boston’s starting rotation.  He was relieved by lefthander J.C. Romero who got the final out in the 6th.

In the Phillies 9th inning, after Kyle Snyder struck out  leftfielder Jayson Werth who led off the inning, Helms singled to centerfield for his 2nd hit of the game.  Centerfielder Aaron Rowand then flied out to center for the 2nd out.  Outfielder Ron Calloway then singled to left centerfield sending Helms to 2nd base.  Catcher Carlos Ruiz singled to center for his 2nd hit, scoring Helms and advancing Calloway to 2nd base.  Calloway took 3rd base on a Boston fielding error and Ruiz took 2nd base on fielder indifference.   Abraham Nunez, now playing shortstop, was walked.  Snyder was yanked and relieved by Travis Hughes who surrendered a 2 run single by infielder  Greg Dobbs scoring Calloway and Ruiz.  Then infielder Brent Abernathy singled scoring Nunez.  Hughes, who was credited with the save, then struck out pinch hitter Michael Bourne to end the game. 

**************

On Saturday, Phils starter Adam Easton went 3 innings giving up 6 runs on 8 hits and Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka surrendered 3 Phillies runs on 2 hits while walking 4 and striking out 7 in 4 innings of work as Boston upended the Phillies by a 7-5 score.

Designated hitter David Ortiz put Boston on the board first with a solo homer in the 1st inning.  Boston got 2 runs in the 2nd inning on Dustin Pedroia’s RBI single.  The Phils got on the board in their half of the second on Nunez’s RBI double.  3-1 Boston after 2 innings.

Boston scored 3 more runs in the 3rd inning as 3rd baseman Mike Lowell singled in 2 and centerfielder Coco Crisp singled in the other run.

The Phils returned the favor in their half of the 3rd with a 2 run homer by  outfielder Pat Burrell.  6-3 Boston after 3 innings. 

Phils non-roster pitcher J. De La Cruz got the side out in the 4h inning, as did Boston reliever Javier Lopez.  Phils reliever Antonio Alfonseca surrendered a solo homer to Boston catcher Jason Varitek in the 5th inning.

Phils reliever Matt Smith and Boston reliever Brendan Donnelly threw zeros in the 6th inning.  Phils reliever Geoff Geary had a perfect 7th inning.  But lefthanded reliever Hideki Okajima surrendered a solo homer to Greg Dobbs in the Phillies 7th inning.  7-4 Boston.

Non-rostered reliever K. Kendrick was perfect for the Phils in retiring the BoSox in the 8th and 9th innings. Non-rostered Boston reliever M. James in the Phillies 8th inning.   Catcher Carlos Ruiz hit a one out solo homer for the Phils off of Boston reliever Joel Piniero to end the scoring.

The scores, boxscores and recaps for these and all Friday and Saturday games can be found by clicking here and here.

The Phillies have Sunday off, although Tom Glavine and the New York Mets face Chris Carpenter and the St. Louis  Cardinals open the regular season on Sunday in St. Louis and San Francisco and Oakland play their final exhibition game on Sunday.

The scores, boxscores and recaps for these games can be found by clicking here.

The Phillies host the Atlanta Braves for opening day at Citizens Bank Stadium as Brett Myers duels John Smoltz.  The scorees, boxscores and recaps for for this and all Monday games can be found by clicking here.

Remember This? Contract Holdout — 1966

Friday, March 30th, 2007

In today’s era of Major League Baseball with it’s free agency, huge, humongous long-term, incentive-laden contracts, arbitration, etc. it’s hard to imagine a player-holdout ending with contracts barely into 6 figures.

But that is exactly what happened 41 years ago today in 1966 with Los Angeles Dodgers pitching stars Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

                      Sandy Koufax          Don Drysdale

Baseball Library records that on February 28, 1966 Koufax and Drysdale,

“Seeking an unprecedented 3-year‚ $1.05 million contract to be divided evenly‚ …begin a joint holdout.”  In mid-March, they threatened joint retirement and signed movie contracts.   But, on March 30, they ended what was a 32 day holdout signing for $130‚000 and $105‚000 respectively.

Koufax went on to have one of his greatest seasons in 1966 finishing with a 27-9 record, a 1.73 ERA, 27 complete games, 323 innings pitched and 317 strikeouts, down from 382 strikeouts in the previous season.

Drysdale didn’t do nearly as well, finishing with a 13-16 mark, a 3.42 ERA, 11 complete games, 279 innings pitched and 177 strikeouts.   But the tandum was still one of the most potent in baseball and the Dodgers eeked out their perennial rivals, the San Francisco Giants for the  NL Pennant by 1 1/2 games.
 
However, the Dodgers didn’t fare well in the
1966 World Series
as their AL opponents, the Baltimore Orioles, who had some pretty fair hurlers themselves in Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Steve Barber and Wally Bunker, shocked the Dodgers with a 4 game sweep of the series.

The Dodgers, who had temporarily replaced the Yankees in the mid-1960s as MLB’s dynasty, managed no offensive production at all in the 1966 World Series.

Baseball Almanac records;

The Orioles had defeated baseball’s newest dynasty and they had done it with less-than-spectacular stats. In the end, their scorecards totaled a meager twenty-four hits and ten earned runs in four games. However, the Dodger’s boasted an even lower total (setting an all-time record) with two runs, seventeen hits, a .142 batting average and pathetic thirty-three consecutive scoreless innings.

As for Koufax and Drysdale, Baseball Library records that;

Koufax achieved success despite physical problems. A mysterious circulatory ailment in his pitching arm cost him half a season in 1962. Another arm injury in 1964 shortly led to an arthritic pitching elbow. After a 27-9 record in 1966, he retired at age thirty-one rather than risk crippling his arm. Five years later he became the youngest man to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and only the sixth to achieve the honor in his first year of eligibility.

Drysdale, who in 1968 set a record hurling 6 consecutive shutouts enroute to a then record 58 2/3 scoreless innings, retired in August, 1969 after a right shoulder injury.

Phillies, Pirates Tie at 5 in Final Fla. Game

Friday, March 30th, 2007

The Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates battled to a 9 inning 5-5 tie in the Phillies’ final Florida exhibition game.

The Phils hit the scoreboard first in the 1st inning as rightfielder Matt Bourne led off with a single, stole second base and scored on 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s double.  Bourne was 2 for 5 for the game.  Ryan Howard singled up the middle and Utley scored on an infield throwing error.

The Bucs got a run back in the bottom of the 1st inning on leftfielder
Jason Bay’s RBI double to leftfield off of Phils starter J.A. Happ.  Bay was 2 for 3 for the game with 3 RBIs, all off of Happ.

The Phils went up by 4-1 in the 3rd inning on back-to-back solo homers by  Howard, last season’s MVP 1st baseman who broke out of a horrid spring training slump by going 2 for 3 including this mammoth shot, and leftfielder Pat Burrell.  All 4 Phillies runs were scored off of Pirates starter Shawn Chacon.

AP sports reporter Alan Robinson described Howard’s blast for Yahoo sports;

Howard hit a long home run that landed on a practice field next to McKechnie Field….  Howard’s drive to right-center easily cleared the wall and bounced off the infield of a diamond that is used for pregame fielding practice. Pat Burrell followed with another homer two pitches later. Howard had been only 1-for-21 and hadn’t hit a homer since March 8, a slump that was bothering him even though the games don’t count until next week.

“That one got some attention, didn’t it?” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “I think one swing can change the whole outlook sometimes.”

Howard, playing in his final Florida exhibition game, went 2-for-3 and is hitting .226 with three homers and 10 RBIs this spring.

The Phillies lead was short-lived as the Bucs came back with 4 runs off of Happ in their 3rd inning to take a 5-4 lead.  Jason Bay doubled again driving in 2 runs.  1st baseman Adam LaRouche followed with a double scoring Bay.  Then young 1st baseman Brad Eldred capped the scoring with a double scoring LaRouche.  That would be it for Pirates scoring as the Phils bullpen, rising to the challenge as Opening Day approaches, barred the door over the remaining 6 innings allowing but 3 hits and surrendering 2 walks in the 9th inning.

On the Bucs side, their bullpen was nearly as good, only surrendering the tying run as Brent Abernathy singled to leftfield scoring rightfielder 
Jayson Werth.

For boxscores and recaps on this and all of Thursday’s games, click here.

The Phillies bullpen picture has become clearer as Opening Day approaches.  Philly.com’s Paul Hagen reports that Ryan Madson has emerged as the set-up man for closer Tom Gordon.  Hagen writes;

After an inauspicious start, he has steadily improved. He has a 1.86 earned run average and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last seven outings, covering 8 2/3 innings.

A week ago, Charlie Manuel said he couldn’t name the reliever he’ll use to set up closer Tom Gordon. Now he can.

“When you look at our bullpen, he’s the ideal guy for the eighth inning,” the manager said. “And he’s also a guy who could step in and close for us if we needed.”

As a rookie in 2004, Madson had a 1.65 earned run average in 51 relief appearances. The following year he made 78 appearances, but his ERA rose to 4.14. Last year he shuttled between the bullpen and the rotation (17 starts) and mastered neither as his ERA ballooned to 5.69.

So coming into this season, Madson was told two things. One was that he should focus on being a reliever. The other was that he should junk his big curve in favor of a cutter. And the results so far have been impressive.

“It’s better [working out of the bullpen]. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody,” Madson said. “And the cutter is working good. I’m getting more comfortable with it.”

And just maybe he’s pitching with a little chip on his shoulder, which isn’t a bad thing.

“I don’t think we’re one of the worst bullpens in the league,” he said. “Far from it.”

If he keeps pitching as well as he has, he just might be right.

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who didn’t play against the Pirates, has been having a red-hot spring.  Hagen recaps his performance through Wednesday’s victory over Tampa Bay;

Jimmy Rollins continued his torrid spring, reaching base all three times he came to the plate with a single, double and a walk. That raised his batting average to .386 and his on-base percentage to .493.

The Phils come north today to host a pair of games in Citizens Bank Stadium against the Boston Red Sox on Friday and Saturday.

Inquirer staff writer Todd Zolecki reports that young lefthander Cole Hamels will face Julian Tavarez for Boston on Friday and that Adam Eaton will be opposed by Japanese phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka (For those having trouble with pronounciation, just call him Dice-K.) for Boston in Saturday’s game.

For boxscores and recaps on these and all of Friday’s and Saturday’s games, click here and here.

Phillies Pitching, Hitting Defeat Tampa Bay

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

The Phillies continue gearing up for the beginning of money time, that is Opening Day.  The pitching continued to fall into place as projected ace  Brett Myers tossed a dominating 6 shutout innings allowing only 3 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7 to win his final tune-up before his Opening Day start against the Atlanta Braves.

The Phils got good relief pitching and scored 9 runs on 16 hits in pasting the Tampa Bay Devil Rays by a 9-2 score in Clearwater.  With all of the runs and hits, the Phils still left 12 on base.  Reliever Clay Condrey gave up 2 runs in the 7th inning after the Phils put up a 6-0 lead and Joseph Bisenius closed down the Rays in the 9th inning.

For Tampa Bay, after lefthander Scott Kazmir held the Phils to 1 run on 5 hits through 3 innings as infielder Wes Helms doubled in shortstop Jimmy Rollins, and reliever Chad Orvella held the Phils scoreless in the 4th inning despite walking 1 and giving up a bunt single, the roof caved in on the Devil Rays and reliever Brian Stokes in the 5th inning.  Infielder Greg Dobbs capped the rally with a 2 run double and the Phils were up 5-0.  Despite giving up only the 1 run, Kazmir was tagged with the loss in his final tune-up before his opening Day start against the Yankees.  And Stokes didn’t do his chances of making the Devil Rays squad any good by allowing the 4 runs.

The Phils added a 6th run in the 6th inning as rightfielder Jayson Werth solo homered to leftfield off of reliever Ruddy Lugo.

Tampa Bay sored their 2 runs on Condrey in the 7th on shortstop J. Velandia’s RBI double and leftfielder Dustan Mohr’s RBI single.

The Phils capped their scoring with 3 runs in the 8th inning off reliever Seth McClung as Condrey helped the cause with an RBI double and infielder  Abraham Nunez laced a 2 run double to deep center.  Nunez and 4 other Phillie hitters collected 2 hits as the team seems intent on backing up Jimmy Rollins who keeps reiterating that the Phils are the team to beat in the NL East.  For their part, the Mets, by way of the New York media – namely Newsday.com’s trash-talking slur, seem to be taking notice as they quake in their shoes while looking over their shoulders, and the season hasn’t even begun yet.

The Phils trimmed down their bullpen corps a little more.  AP’s Rob Maaddi reports for Yahoo sports;

RHP Jim Ed Warden, a candidate for a bullpen spot with the Phillies, returned to Cleveland after he cleared waivers and had to be offered back to his former team. Warden, selected in the winter-meeting draft, had a 5.68 ERA in seven appearances. “We felt we couldn’t use him right now,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He needs work. He needs command. He needs to work on his delivery.”

 ESPN.com reports on further Phillies roster trimming;

Karim Garcia, trying to make a big league comeback with the Phillies, was released. He batted .305 (18-for-59) with four doubles and one homer in spring training and was competing for a spot as the Phillies’ fifth outfielder.

Garcia, best known for tangling with a Fenway Park groundskeeper during the 2003 AL Championship Series with the New York Yankees, spent the past two seasons playing in Japan. He signed a minor league contract with the Phillies in January.

For boxscores and recaps on this and all of Wednesday’s games, click here.

The Phils play the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.  For boxscores and recaps on this and all of Thursday’s games, click here.

Phillies Beat Reds With Solid Pitching

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Phillies veteran lefthander and winning pitcher Jamie Moyer made another solid spring training start lasting 7 innings, catcher Rod Barajas slugged a solo homer in the 3rd inning, leftfielder Pat Burrell followed suit with a solo blast in the 4th inning and went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs, and Geoff Geary and closer Tom Gordon were nearly perfect in the 8th and 9th innings as the Phils beat the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday by a 6-2 score.  Not too much more can be said — this is the way this Phillies is supposed to look to overtake the Mets for the NL East.

The Phils’ biggest concern going into spring training, the bullpen, appears rounding into consistent shape in time for Opening Day – at least off of the recent performances of Ryan Madson, Geary, Antonio Alfonseca and Gordon..

AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi’s reports in his Yahoo sports recap of the game;

Geary and Gordon gave manager Charlie Manuel reason for optimism.

Geary hadn’t pitched in a game since March 15 because of a hamstring injury. He showed he should be ready for the opener against Atlanta.

Gordon, the 39-year-old closer who was hampered by shoulder problems in the second half after going to the All-Star game, has pitched every other day his last four outings after taking it slow early on. He’s allowed one earned run in 6 2-3 innings this spring.

“He’s close,” Manuel said. “He was pretty good, but he can be better.”

The Phils also got four 2 hit performances; shortstop Jimmy Rollins in the leadoff spot, leftfielder Burrell in batting behind Ryan Howard, 3rd baseman Wes Helms who drove in a run and rightfielder Greg Dobbs who also drove in a run.  It is reported that Dobbs, who has hit well throughout spring training, appears to have cliched a place on the Opening Day roster.
For the Reds, starter Kyle Lohse pitched 4 1/3 innings giving up single runs to the Phils on the homers, but former Phils reliever Rheal Cormier surrendered the 4 Phillies runs in the 7th inning and was tagged with the loss.
 
Reds 3rd baseman
Edwin Encarnacion clubbed a 2 run homer in the 2nd inning off of Moyer for their only 2 runs of the game.

For boxscores and recaps on this and all of Tuesday’s games, click here.

Team injuries and keeping the team healthy seems to have supplanted concerns about the bullpen and about Pat Burrell’s hitting as the Phillies’ top concern.

Inquirer staff writer Todd Zolecki reports;

 Pat Gillick’s top concern this week is not Pat Burrell’s swing.

It’s the Phillies’ health.

“We want to get healthy,” the team’s general manager said Sunday. “We were pretty healthy until the last week. We have a few nicks and bruises, so consequently this last week we need most of our people that are nicked up to get healthy.”

Regarding the rapidly approaching arrival of Opening Day and the Phillies’ injuries, Philly.com sports wirter Paul Hagen reports;

Righthander Freddy Garcia (biceps tendinitis) threw in the bullpen yesterday afternoon. While the results were encouraging, indications are that he’ll open the season on the disabled list.

He’ll most likely be joined on the DL by righthander Jon Lieber (pulled side muscle) and catcher-infielder Chris Coste (hamstring).

Team officials were encouraged that catcher Carlos Ruiz (shoulder) and righthander Geoff Geary (hamstring) will be available when the season opens Monday against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Ruiz went 3-for-7 with two doubles and three RBI in minor league games yesterday afternoon. Geary pitched a perfect inning in last night’s 6-2 win over the Reds at Bright House Networks Field.

Garcia, who was penciled in as the No. 3 starter before being forced to leave his start on March 21 after one inning, was throwing off a mound for the first time since. He was limited to 30 fastballs.

“He popped some,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said. “He’s feeling better, which is good. We’ll see how he responds.”

Because of Tuesday’s open date on the schedule, the Phillies shouldn’t need a fifth starter until April 8. So the logical move would be to let Garcia start the year on the DL and have an extra roster spot available in the meantime.

Lieber will throw, probably off flat ground, today.

“He’s going to miss some time,” manager Charlie Manuel said.

Maaddi’s game recap also reports that “Brett Myers takes the mound for the Phillies against Tampa Bay on Wednesday in his final tuneup before pitching opening day.”

For scores, boxscores and recaps on all of Wednesday’s games, click here.