Sunday, October 30, 2011

From Real Baseball to Hot Stove

So, as always, I mourn the passing of another season and wistfully long for the start of a new one. After all, as horrible as the 2011 Twins season was, it was still a pretty good impersonation of real baseball, and real baseball is better than any of the other hobbies I have (I can only crochet so many dishcloths, scarves, and baby blankets before I go nuts).

That's not to say that I don't like the stuff that happens in the off-season. I kind enjoy keeping up with all the rumors and dates that go with the hot stove. But the fact that these rumors and dates kind of happen in a spotty fashion kind of bums me out. This is how it usually shakes out:

  1. An important date nears.
  2. Fans and media speculate the snot out of a bunch of ideas about what's going to happen.
  3. The date comes.
  4. Whatever happens happens.
  5. Fans and media analyze the snot out of a bunch of ideas about what just happened.
  6. Everyone waits until the next thing is about to happen.

So while all this rumoring and speculating and analyzing is a lot of fun, I still prefer the consistency of being able to follow a ballgame.

However, hot stove is where we're at, so hot stove is what we're doing. Let's preview the 2011-2012 Twins Off-season. I kind of explained the same kind of stuff to the best of my ability last year. I did lay out some definitions in there, so check it out if you need further info. If you need any further info (or clearer info), check out the links I put at the bottom of this post.

By order of important date:

October 30. Two days after the World Series was the free agent filing date. Teams have an exclusive negotiating window until end of day Wednesday. If the teams and players don't agree to a new contract within that window, on November 3, the players become free agents and may begin signing with any team.

Also, teams had until Sunday to decide whether to exercise team options. The Twins' only potential team option was a $12.5M deal for Joe Nathan, and they already decided to pay the $2M to buy out the option. Popular opinion, including mine, is that the Twins made the right move with Nathan. As much as I love him and want him to be a Twin forever and ever, $12.5M is an awful lot of money for a closer -- it is, after all, only a role, not a position. There's every reason to believe that the Twins with try to sign Nathan for less money, and it might be possible that they can as the free agent list of closers is pretty significant.

November 14 - 22. Announcements of the post-season awards: NL and AL Rookie of the Year, AL Cy Young, NL and AL Manager of the Year, NL Cy Young, AL MVP, and NL MVP. I'm pretty sure there won't be any Twins gathering any hardware this year.

November 23. Deadline for teams to decide whether to offer the type A and type B free agents (as graded by Elias Sports Bureau) arbitration. The reason to offer these guys arbitration is so that the team receives draft pick(s) as compensation if they turn it down (type A's fetch a first- or second-round pick from the signing team plus a sandwich pick, and type B's fetch a sandwich pick for the original team). The risk, or reward if the player is all that and a bag of chips, is that the player will accept the arbitration offer and the team has to sign him for one year at fair market value. The free agent players have until December 7 to decide whether to accept the arbitration offer.
Free Agents:
Matt Capps (type A)
Michael Cuddyer (type A)
Jason Kubel (type B)
Joe Nathan
I assume that the Twins will offer arbitration to Cuddyer and Kubel, but not Capps.

December 5. The deadline for teams to outright players off the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft (I talk about that below).

December 5 - 8. MLB Winter Meetings of General Managers ending with the Rule 5 draft. A bunch of GMs and team executives wheeling and dealing and talking trades and other suchandso and even more media members hanging out in lobbies trying to get scoops on the trade and suchandso talking.

The Rule 5 draft occurs on the last day of the Winter Meetings. This is where teams may draft certain young players not on a team's 40-man roster. The only catch is that the drafting team must either put the player on the 25-man roster for the next season, or work out a trade with the original team in order to send him to the minors. For further explanation of "certain young players," I suggest you read Seth Stohs' article in the TwinCentric Minnesota Twins GM Handbook (linked below).
Pre-Arbitration Eligible Players on the 40-Man Roster (as of 10/30) (teams can not draft these guys with Rule 5 -- they may or may not even be eligible age-wise if they were to be taken off the roster; I didn't feel like figuring that part out)
Joe Benson
David Bromberg
Alex Burnett
Drew Butera
Scott Diamond
Brian Duensing
Deolis Guerra
Liam Hendriks
Jim Hoey
Luke Hughes
Jeff Manship
Lester Oliveros
Chris Parmelee
Trevor Plouffe
Ben Revere
Anthony Swarzak
Rene Tosoni
Danny Valencia
Esmerling Vasquez
Kyle Waldrop
December 11. The current collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association expires. I haven't done a lot of research on how close they are to a new agreement, but I'm encouraged by the lack of news and buzz about it. As far as I'm aware, the only major sticking point left to work out is slotting of June amateur draft picks (kind of a cap on the signing bonuses for draftees). My gut tells me they'll be fine and come to an agreement in plenty of time; in fact, I've seen a few articles on the web that state that they're close and could have a plan within a week (from now) or so. Which is good, because, while the NBA is currently struggling, and the NFL just recently struggled, baseball has a history of some nasty, monumental struggles.

December 12. Deadline for teams to either tender a contract or not to their arbitration-eligible players. These players are under team control, but are entitled to a salary increase. If the team decides to tender a contract, they have until their arbitration hearing date (around the end of January or the beginning of February) to come to terms with the player. If the team declines to offer a contract, the player becomes a free agent.
Arbitration Eligible Players:
Alexi Casilla
Francisco Liriano
Jose Mijares
Glen Perkins
Kevin Slowey
I speculate that the Twins will not tender Mijares and Slowey. Although they could and then try to trade them.

February. Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training (actual date not officially announced yet).

April 6. Opening Day at Balitmore

No Particular Date. Of course, at any time, the Twins may trade players under their control (yes, even Joe Mauer could be traded if he agrees to waive his no-trade clause and  a team is willing to take on his contract -- 'tain't likely, though), but for now, they don't have to worry.
Players Under Contract:
Scott Baker
Nick Blackburn
Joe Mauer
Justin Morneau
Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Carl Pavano
Denard Span

Helpful Resources: I got a lot of information from this article on  and from this page on

I learned a lot of great stuff from the TwinsCentric Minnesota Twins GM Handbook. Not only does it go into details similar to what I have above, but it also grades players for 2011, reviews organizational depth charts, lists trade and free agent targets, and offer the authors' blueprints for 2012. Excellent stuff; I encourage you to buy one for yourself.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Now What...?

Baseball's World Series is like Christmas when you were a kid. There's all this build up for it and everyone talks about it and you're so excited for it to finallllllllly just get here already. And then when it gets here, you're so happy and you get all kinds of awesome presents, and you think that nothing could ever get better than this.  Ever. And sometimes you get a super nice gift, the one you always ask for but don't dare actually deep-down hope for because you usually don't ever get lucky enough to get everything you want. ... And then. ... And then you wake up the next day and you realize ... it's over. And you're bummed and you think "now what" and you're bummed but you don't think you can admit you're bummed because you just received all those awesome gifts and you don't want the grown ups to think you're ungrateful, and you're not ungrateful at all. ... Just bummed. And lonely. But the World Series is different because those gifts are only memories now and you don't really have a bunch of new toys to play with or clothes to wear. And you're really lonely and all you have is a countdown to when pitchers and catchers report.

Hearty congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals; and thank you and the Texas Rangers for an awesome post season.

Monday, October 24, 2011

2012 Wish List Part VII: Acknowledge the Elephant in the Room

The Twins had a million problems in 2011, and the biggest one was the number of injuries. Their use of the Disable List was legendary -- and not the good kind of legends. What's baffling is that it doesn't seem as if Bill Smith is willing to admit that anything could have been done about it.

Obviously, I'm no expert. My experience with anything medical related is limited to: taping basketball players' ankles in high school, owning a couple of anatomy and medical terminology books, knowing how to use WebMD, and being a mom of student athletes. However, whenever Smith says that they only had one instance that wasn't what he's calling a "collision" injury (and he's said it repeatedly), I don't buy it. 

In fact, I think it's B.S. And I don't mean Bill Smith.

While it's true that several of the injuries were unavoidable mishaps -- Nishioka's broken leg, Delmon's broken foot, Denard's concussion, --  I feel like there were an awful lot of obliques, quads, forearms, and shoulders that are more "conditioning" injuries than "collision" injuries. Obviously, these things are typical baseball injuries, and no team is exempt from them. I'm just confused as to why Smith is reluctant to mention them. Did he forget about them? Is he lumping them in with the collision injures? Does he feel like they were unavoidable?

Also, I question the handling of the injuries once they occurred. It seemed like things that they claimed should be day-to-day wound up being DL stints, and the DL stints that they claimed would be around the 15-day minimum would be a lot longer. Days to weeks, weeks to months, and so on. Was the trouble with how they were estimating the returns, or with how well they treated the injuries?

It's hard to know who's at fault here. It would be easy to say that they should just let the entire medical training staff go -- the doctors, athletic trainers, conditioning coaches, therapists, scanner operators, guys who schlep the ice -- and start over. Well, that's not happening; Bill Smith said so on ESPN1500. And it probably shouldn't happen. Yes, the training staff may need to improve some processes and procedures. But the athletes need to be held accountable too. Joe Mauer admitted he came to spring training out of shape because of his knee surgery. I'm pretty sure that some of the other players could work on their preparedness.

I don't have any solutions for this mess. Do the players need to improve their off-season conditioning? Does the team need to teach the players better techniques for injury prevention? Does Gardy need to start kicking some butts? Do the athletic trainers need to be better educated in progressive therapy techniques? Do the players need to be held more accountable for their own health? Does everyone top to bottom need to have a better understanding of the difference between "hurting" and "injured"? Does the team need to invest in bubble-wrap uniforms?

I can't say. But I do wish that as a first step towards solutions, Bill Smith would properly admit to and identify the problems.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Game 1 Viewing Party Notes

On Wednesday, the Twins invited members of the On Deck Circle (season ticket waiting list) to come down to Target Field and watch Game 1 of the World Series in the Legends Club or the Metropolitan Club. Twins President Dave St. Peter was there to answer some fans' questions, and they had a nice buffet of ballpark food. They displayed the game on the Jumbotron as well as the approximately 140,561 televisions (give or take) they have all over the place. They raffled off some prizes and they offered mini-tours of Target Field. My friend and I had a very nice time.

Here's a quick recap of Mr. St. Peter's Q & A session:

  • My friend and I arrived in the middle of it, and frankly we were immediately more interested in getting ourselves some food before listening to him, but we did catch some stuff.
  • Regarding the batter's eye in centerfield: he acknowledges that that black screen is ugly, but the trees needed to be removed because at certain times of the day, the sun glares off them so that the ball comes out of some dappled shadowy whatever, and that not only were the batters complaining about it, but the umpires were too. He said that he's talking it over with the grounds crew and some other people to come up with some more attractive solutions, but he isn't willing to disclose anything about it yet.
  • Regarding Joe Mauer moving to first base: He had talked to Joe like four hours prior, and Joe says he wants to be the catcher. Joe is the catcher. Joe will be the catcher for a long time. Joe can play some at first base on an as-needed basis to give Joe or Justin a day off. But, for now, Joe is the catcher.
  • He sounded like he expressed some doubt over whether Justin Morneau will be able to come back at 100% and play first base. He said something about moving him to DH. I think this was within a conversation regarding re-signing Cuddyer and/or Kubel. I didn't really hear this part; this is the part where I was eating kettle chips.
  • Someone asked about Tsyoshi Nishioka and his role for 2012: St. Peter admitted that 2011 was a very bad year for Nishioka. However, a position is not guaranteed to him; he will have to earn a spot in spring training. St. Peter also hinted at finding a free-agent middle infielder.
  • Someone asked about the availability of wheelchair-accessible seating and how it's getting harder to get them because non-handicapped people are getting them (or something like that -- again, I didn't really hear the question; let's blame the kettle chips): St. Peter acknowledged something needs to be done to ensure that the folks who need the accessible seating get it. However, they are prohibited from asking people who request those seats why they need them. He said that they are working with the ADA to come up with a plan to better assure the accessible seating is available to fans who need it. (Allow me to interject with a personal rant as this topic hits home: I'm all in favor of making sure the fans who really need accessible seating get it, but people have to remember that just because a fan isn't using a wheelchair or cane that he or she doesn't need accessible seating. Some disabilities are not as obvious as others. All fans deserve to sit with the rest of their party, so it may be that one member of the group may require the seating, but they all get to be there. Also, fans who have wheelchair-access tickets have every right to sell them or give them away, so it could be that someone who doesn't really need the accessible seats gets them anyway. I just hope that the Twins organization keeps these factors in mind as they try to resolve the issue of availability of these seats. Thank you; now back to the regularly scheduled blog.)
Here's a quick recap of the mini-tour:

  • Our tour guide was kind of a Seinfeld-soup-nazi guy. He was pretty uptight about the number of people following him and he walked so fast we could hardly keep up, let alone take pictures. I took some, but they're quite lame so I won't even put them up. Honestly, they're not worth the effort.
  • We toured the Champions Club, and areas around the clubhouse, workout room, batting cages, and dugout (but not actually in any of those areas). I peeked in between the doors of the trainers' room -- it looked big. I was hoping to get in there and spray some Lysol around or something. I know that won't help with the number of oblique pulls and forearm strains, but it might help reduce the number of instances of "flu-like symptoms."
  • All the beer kegs are stored in the bowels of the building and there are miles of tubing that go from 14 chilled keg rooms to the taps all around the park.
  • We were allowed to see into the clubhouse without actually going into it (no pictures -- MLB rules!). It's big. The lockers are big. There are four double-wide lockers in the corners. They belong to the team leaders: Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, and Nathan. They get them supposedly because they get so much mail. (My guess is they get them because they have more reporters bugging them.)
  • The Champions Club looks like any other reception hall. You can rent it for your company party or family event. You can get married at home plate for like $3,000 or something. If you want your wedding video-streamed live on the Jumbotron, that'll cost you an extra $11,000.
  • The Champion Club seats are closer to the batter (at 45 feet) than the pitcher (at 60 feet 6 inches). The fans are closer to home plate in Target Field than at any other ballpark in the Majors.
  • We did not see the blue ox, but we did look for it.
  • Taking this little tour just made my friend and I want to pony up the $17 for the full, hour-and-a-half-long tour. Maybe that would go at a better pace for taking pictures. We'll have to plan on doing that.

Here's a quick recap of the rest of the evening:

  • No, we didn't win any prizes. We're pretty bummed about it too. We really wanted the game-used Michael Cuddyer bat.
  • The pretzels they served were amazing. They're very unlike the ones they sell at the concession stands. I want them to sell these instead. Soft and warm and just the right amount of salt and mmmmm. The sausages were pretty good too.
  • Part of the whole point of this event was to allow the potential season ticket buyers to speak with their representative. I could never find my representative. I even looked for him. Twice. I know he was there because he was introduced. But he was vapor when I tried to hunt him down. No biggie, though. I just wanted to know what he thought my chances were for getting the season tickets this year. I'll just wait it out and see.
  • My friend and I were amazed at how crystal clear watching TV on the Jumbotron was. Yeah, we've seen it a million times before, but this is probably the first time we've really watched it for an extended amount of time.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Story of the Spreadsheet

Every off-season, I create a spreadsheet to keep track of the goings-on of the Twins roster. I started doing it just to keep track of who left and who was added, because by the the time the season started, I could never remember that stuff. As the years have gone by, I've added more info and kept it current throughout the season. This is kind of a huge deal for me; I'm afraid of spreadsheets.

This year, I added disabled list and call-up transactions to the mix. I'm glad I did; I learned a lot of interesting stuff. Of course, I picked an interesting season to start doing this.

Some stuff I figured out (not official and subject to my errors in tracking or calculation, which shouldn't surprise anybody):
  • The Twins used the DL 27 times
  • 16 different players landed on the DL
  • 11 players were on it twice
  • A total of 888 days were lost to guys on the DL
  • That's an average of 55.5 days per guy
  • Denard Span was on it for the most total days at 91
  • Joe Mauer's 1st time on it was the longest single stint at 65 days
  • Tsuyoshi Niskioka was the first one actually put on the DL on April 8, but on April 9, Kevin Slowey was put on it retroactive to April 5, so he's technically the first one
  • Jose Mijares was the only one on it for no more than 15 days
  • Of the 25 men who were on the Opening Day roster, four were sent down to the minors (non-rehab): Slowey, Matt Tolbert, Jeff Manship, and Dusty Hughes
  • There were 20 guys who started the season in the minors who were called up at some point during the season
  • Ten were called up more than once
  • Luke Hughes and Rene Tosoni were each called up four times
  • Three were strictly September call-ups: Joe Benson, Liam Hendricks, Chris Parmelee, and Kyle Waldrop
So, crunching these facts pretty much tells me that the Twins were injured too much and that put a lot of strain on the minor league teams. Shocker, huh? Oh, and Luke Hughes and Rene Tosoni should get some frequent flyer miles -- they probably won't, but they should.

Now I'm about to make a new spreadsheet for this off-season going through next season. I'll start with the published 40-man roster that's on the Twins website, and I'll go from there.

As of Friday, there are four guys who won't be added to my shiny new spreadsheet because they were designated for assignment: Matt Tolbert, Rene Rivera, Anthony Slama, and Jason Repko. I'm not sure if that means that any of them become minor league free agents or not. The whole minor league option thing still confuses me. I'm sure someone will explain it soon enough.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Smith and St. Peter Fan Forum

On Tuesday night, the Minnesota Twins conducted a fan forum phone call for season ticket holders and on-deck circle members. The call was to give fans a chance to ask General Manager Bill Smith and team President Dave St. Peter questions. I initially figured that Smith and St. Peter would limit themselves to politely answering the questions with pat answers. I was pleasantly surprised. They didn't tip their hands too much (I wouldn't expect them to), but they were remarkably candid. They seemed to understand fans' frustrations, admitted to some mistakes, and agreed that some changes are necessary.

When I took the call, I hadn't planned to take any notes or keep track of what was said. Like I said, I kind of expected it to be dumb. But thinking about it now, I want to jot down some of the more interesting topics that I can remember and my reactions to them. I'm pretty sure I'm remembering these points correctly; I apologize if I'm not. Joe Christensen from the STrib has a nice recap over two posts.

Injuries and conditioning: Smith said that most of the injuries this season were "impact injuries" and that the only muscular injury was Alexi Casilla's hamstring. He also said that injuries like Nishioka's broken leg and Morneau's and Span's concussions were results of collisions, and they can't be anticipated and there's no conditioning that can prevent those.

I'm a tad confused about his answer here. If Casilla's hammy was the only muscle injury, why did Perkins, Thome, Young, and Nishioka go down with oblique strains and Repko and Thome go down with quad strains? I have no clue whether the nature of the oblique and quad strains could have been prevented or reduced by different or better conditioning. Maybe they couldn't have been, and that's what Smith meant. But I'm skeptical.

Nishioka: Smith said that this was a lost season for Nishi and that he needs a mulligan. He pointed out that Nishioka had a lot on his plate very early in the season with the culture shock and the broken leg, and that he's been given an offseason training program to exercise. However, Smith went on to say that he's not guaranteed to have a starting spot in 2012 and that he'll have to earn it out of spring training.

That's all I ask for -- don't assume anything. I still have some small sliver of faith in Nishioka -- his numbers in Japan don't lie, and the scouts obviously did not see this version of him. However, I appreciate that Smith is having second thoughts about it and he's willing to admit that Nishi isn't necessarily the answer. Later in the conversation, as he listed the highest priorities for the team, a good shortstop was on that list.

Bringing in the outfield fences: St. Peter did kind of give a hedging pat answer here, giving a lot of "we're talking about it" kinds of responses, but he basically said that despite what Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer may want, there are no plans to alter the outfield fences.

St. Peter also added (I can't remember if this was specifically in regard to this topic or another -- in fact, I can't really remember if it was St. Peter or Smith who said this; let's just go with it) that the current team with all the left-handed hitters, was built for the Metrodome, but now in Target Field, they have to build the team to be more of a doubles-and-speed-type team.

Ben Revere's arm: Smith said that Revere and the coaches are working very hard on improving his arm, doing things such as pitchers' long toss, but, ultimately, there's not much they can do. Smith thinks that Revere suffered some kind of shoulder injury in high school football. Smith went on to say that plenty of good baseball players, like Johnny Damon, have terrible arms.

It kind of struck me that Smith didn't go on more to talk about Revere's range and how it more than makes up for his arm. Frankly, I don't think Ben's weak arm is a super-huge deal. There are thing the Twins can do to mitigate the damage: put him in left, play the cut off men out more, keep working on taking proper routes, etc.

Cuddyer jersey: A fan asked Smith if it was safe to buy a Cuddyer jersey, and Smith replied that, no matter what team he winds up with, it's always safe to buy a Cuddyer jersey. Smith called Cuddy a great representative and in all his years in baseball, Cuddyer is his favorite player to be around. Cuddy has earned this opportunity for free agency, and Smith's hopeful he can sign him.

When I met Smith at the State Fair in 2010, he pretty much said the same thing, word for word (well, not the free agency part), to me (it was kind of unprovoked too, because I was talking about Jim Thome at the time), and I could tell he meant it. He actually kind of gushed. Which still makes me ask why he didn't take care of this last season? Who knows; maybe he tried and Cuddyer said not now.

Starting pitching: Smith admitted straight up that the Twins need to focus on acquiring starting pitching because they may want to move a starter or two to the bullpen.

I suspect the "starter or two" may include Brian Duensing, Kevin Slowey, and/or Nick Blackburn.

Jim Thome: A fan asked whether the Twins will try to bring Jim Thome back. Smith said that the Twins loved having Thome around. If Jim wants to play, he'll definitely find a team, but the Twins have so many other priorities this offseason. Jim is either a designated hitter or a pinch hitter, and if he gets on base, he needs a pinch runner. With a bench of only three or four guys, Thome would be a luxury the Twins can't afford.

My head can't disagree. My heart weeps.

Who, of the guys who are gone, do you miss? Surprisingly, Smith answered this question without hesitation: JJ Hardy. He went on to say that Hardy had a great season with the Orioles, but much of his success can be attributed to the AL East parks, Camden, Fenway, the Trop, and Rogers Centre, that he plays in. Smith also mentioned that they miss Guerrier and Crain, but definitely they miss JJ.

Hmm. That's almost kind of on the brink of admitting that trading Hardy was a mistake. I'm not sure I buy the ball parks thing. Hardy may also be benefiting from a training staff that knows how to fix his wrist. A strong wrist equals a strong swing.

Fundamental errors: Smith admitted that the lower levels of the organization need to be less tolerant of mental and fundamental lapses. He suggested that guys should be taken out of a game or sit the next game if they do things such as miss the cut off man, make baserunning mistakes, etc. He said that all that is part of the learning process.

Yes! I firmly believe that the minor league players and coaches need to work harder on fundamentals and foster a culture of winning so that the guys are fully ready for the big leagues.

My biggest takeaways: The message I kept sensing was that the Twins' front office firmly believes that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau will be back at 100% in 2012. Smith didn't seem like he wanted to address any other options regarding moving either of them to other positions.

Smith also admitted that a backup catcher with good offense is a priority. Good.

I noticed that he didn't talk about Kubel much at all, although no one asked.

I'm glad the Twins did this. Smith and St. Peter put themselves in the line of fire of some obviously frustrated fans, and they didn't back down or hedge much at all. They know fans are mad, and they have a ways to go to ease those wounds. Good for them for facing it head on.

Also, the fans who asked questions were great. Of course they were all screened before being let on the line, but all the callers asked smart questions without being disrespectful. They asked tough questions that generated good discussions.

There were more questions and answers than what I have here; I just hit the highlights. I enjoyed listening; it was well worth my time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Off-season Surgery Paper Doll Parade

In an effort to be ready for off-season conditioning, three Twins underwent surgery on Friday to address some lingering issues. Just because the season is over doesn't mean the paper doll production is.

Ben Revere had minor surgery on his left knee to remove some loose cartilage. I hope this isn't the same procedure that Joe Mauer had last off-season...or, if it is, I hope the outcome is better.

Ben gave his Twitter followers updates every step of the way. With a picture.

He also asked, numerous times, for someone to come take care of him. He didn't indicate where he was.

I would've offered, but that probably would've been creepy. I'm old enough to be his ... well, let's just say that I'm old enough that if he were ever to meet me in real life, he'd call me ma'am. Not the kind of care he's looking for, I'm sure.


When Justin Morneau got his knee and foot surgery a couple of weeks ago (after his neck surgery a couple months ago), he must've received a coupon for a free procedure on his next visit.

He had a small, benign cyst removed from his left knee and some cleanup on his right foot on September 19.

Now on Friday, he had a stabilization procedure on the wrist that's been bothering him most of the season. He's still experiencing numbness in his hand.

He's supposed to be in a cast for six weeks.


Nick Blackburn has been diagnosed with radial tunnel syndrome and had surgery Friday to treat it. I have a little experience with this one; I was diagnosed with the same condition three years ago (I never had surgery, but I still have some lingering effects -- it's a good thing I'm not a Major League pitcher).

Any kind of tunnel syndrome is a compression of nerves. We've all heard of carpal tunnel syndrome; this is similar, but it involves a different nerve. Instead of running along the carpus bones of the hand, the radial tunnel runs along the radius of the forearm.

Blackie's surgery was to decompress those nerves. I hope he's not still feeling it three years from now.