Sunday, April 23, 2006

dl triplets update

in the aftermath of derrek lee's stunning injury, many cub fans are trying to work out how the team might arbitrage the gap between lee's absence and the return of mark prior, kerry wood and wade miller -- its disabled list triplets. with glendon rusch, jerome williams and rookie sean marshall all struggling mightily with eras over 6, what little hope might be yet gleaned for this season -- just three weeks underway! -- seems to rest on the rapid return of all three.

this page has said before that shoulder injuries are a very serious matter -- much more so than elbow injuries -- something to which wood is attesting.

"A shoulder is a tricky thing," he said after throwing a 35-pitch bullpen session at Dodger Stadium. "There's a lot of little muscles and little things up in there you've got to stay on top of. An elbow is pretty cut-and-dried. You know what you're dealing with. For me, it's been tougher than the elbow, much tougher than I thought it'd be."

hopes for a fast return were dealt three separate blows in reports eminating from cubs camp this weekend. on friday, wade miller was moved to the 60-day disabled list as a means of clearing roster room for michael restovich, who was recalled to replace lee on the active 25-man roster. miller now does not count against the 40-man roster, while lee -- on the 15-day dl -- still does. the consequence of miller's retroactive redesignation is that he will be ineligible to return before june.

reports also circulated friday that wood was unable to start his scheduled simulated game due to tightness under his throwing shoudler. while the cubs are sanguine publicly about this turn of events, it does represent a setback of about a week in a rehabilitation that was aggressively scheduled to conclude early in may. at this late date, with wood still missing simulations, with a minor league assignment still to be completed after that, this page has little hope that wood will be available any time before mid-may, even if all goes well from here -- which is far from a certain thing.

lastly, in reporting on wood's delay, the tribune also noted the status of mark prior.

Mark Prior, who is third in line behind Wood and Miller in the pitching rehab lane, threw 25 pitches of batting practice Friday. The Cubs have not mapped out a plan for Prior's return, but it's unlikely to be before the start of June.

when initially reported, it was thought by some that prior's injury was a minor one and that he would return relatively early on in may. the cubs, however, have been reticent to issue much information as hopes of prior's imminent return have slowly faded. at this point, it is hard to know even if an early june return is a reasonable expectation. as was noted here, this injury cost jose contreras half of 2003, whereupon it said:

taken in this context, and knowing that the cubs are reflexively putting the best possible face on the diagnosis and prognosis, it would be reasonable to expect that this team will be without prior until june is within a stone's throw, if that soon. if he resumes throwing in early april, expect setbacks.

even that prognosis has now proven too optimistic.

so it seems that rusch, williams, marshall or some replacement for one or two of them -- rich hill and angel guzman remain possibilities as they throw for the iowa cubs -- will be with the team for another six weeks at least. how the cubs fare over that stretch will determine in large part the outcome of their season; winning teams must inevitably be able to win in the face of adversity, not only when all is well.

greg maddux goes today in an effort to avoid a quid pro quo sweep at the hands of the redbirds. there's no time like the present to demonstrate how this team can, if it can, win when the chips are down.

UPDATE: williams was sent down to iowa today, replaced by recall angel guzman, who will shortly see his first major league action.

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