Late season injury roundup
It may not be as violent as football or other full-contact sports, but baseball is harder on the human body than most people imagine. Unless you're an "Iron Man" like Lou Gehrig or Cal Ripken, playing 162 games every year will cause severe wear and tear. For the Washington Nationals, this entire summer has been filled with unlucky injuries to some of their best players, and the same thing is now happening to several other teams, including some postseason contenders. These news items are based largely on MLB.com:
The Cubs' ace pitcher Carlos Zambrano has been out with a strained shoulder, but after getting an anti-inflammatory injection, he thinks he might be able to resume playing within the next week or so. With all the rotten breaks the Cubs have had over the decades, something like this was exactly what superstitious north-side Chicago fans have been dreading.
On the south side of the Windy City, meanwhile, White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin, who leads the American League in home runs (36) broke his wrist after slamming his bat in anger on Monday, and may be out for the rest of the season. D'oh! There was a similar bonehead self-injury last year, but I forget the guy's name. With the White Sox clinging to a small lead over the Twins in the AL Central, they ought to dock his salary.
Perhaps the biggest question mark is with the Tampa Bay Rays, struggling to stay ahead of the hard-charging Red Sox in the AL East. Evan Longoria has been activated, but will only play as a pinch runner until his fractured wrist heals properly. Carl Crawford remains on the 15-day disabled list.
The Mets, who have been in a back-and-forth race with the Phillies in the NL East, are hopeful that Billy Wagner will resume pitching next week. He has been on the DL since early August, with pain in his left elbow.
Two of the the Dodgers pitchers could resume active duties soon: closer Takashi Saito and starter Brad Penny. With the D-Backs in a slump lately, they've got a prime opportunity to take the lead in the NL West.
Two players for the Texas Rangers are having season-ending surgery: second baseman Ian Kinsler and pitcher Doug Mathis.
Oakland's pitcher Justin Duchscherer will be out for the rest of the season because of a strained right hip; he has been on the DL since August 19.
In Our Nation's Capital, Ronnie Belliard, who has proven to be one the Nationals' most valuable utility players this season, getting clutch hits while playing at first base, second base, shortstop, and as a pinch hitter, strained a groin muscle while running to first base on Thursday night in Atlanta. It was feared he might be out for the rest of the season, but now they think he'll play again soon.
Finally, Nationals pitcher Shawn Hill, who made only 12 starts this year before going on the DL, had some bone spurs surgically removed, and there is now a chance that he will return to the rotation next year. His career hangs in the balance.
Instant replay begins
I happened to flip the channel just in time to see the home run by Alex Rodriguez in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. Since the ball soared above the tip of the foul pole at Tropicana Field, hooking slightly, it provided the first occasion to use the new instant replay rules, and fortunately it was resolved quickly and fairly. See MLB.com. The ball hit by A-Rod hit the catwalk behind the left field foul pole. There is a yellow vertical pole on that catwalk, in line with the foul line, but I'm not sure what significance it has. Some of those catwalks are in play, and I probably ought to include them in a future diagram version.
Citizens Bank Park
I updated the diagram on the Citizens Bank Park page, with a second profile depicting the grandstand in right field. There are several corrections, most notably, the upper deck is a little smaller than I had previously estimated.
Nationals Park photos
Finally, I added some more of the photos I took last month to the Nationals Park page.