Mash Report (11/13/14)

• MLB and USA Baseball finally came out with their PitchSmart program for high school age and younger kids to help prevent future pitcher injuries especially Tommy John surgery.

Through decades of research, experts have gained insight into the behaviors that put amateurs at an increased risk of injury. In the most recent nationwide study of youth pitchers, research found that youth pitchers were still exhibiting many of these risky behaviors, all of which were associated with increased likelihood of pitching with arm tiredness and arm pain.

With this information, they have come up with the following sample guidelines

Neal Huntington, in another article, talks about the initiative and some of the myths surround Tommy John surgeries

“You rarely hear about the guys who don’t come back,” Huntington said Wednesday at the General Managers Meetings. “You hear a lot about guys who do come back, and you hear a ton about guys who come back and throw harder. The reality — and it’s fascinating to hear medical personnel confirm it — is that guys who come back throwing harder are in the best shape of their lives.

“They would have thrown harder had they committed themselves to work that hard, anyway. It’s not surgery that makes you throw harder — it’s working out better, with more passion and intensity. That might be the result of the game being taken away from them. Had they turned the commitment corner before surgery, they might’ve had the same result. The misinformation out there is staggering, the number of people who believe Tommy John enhances performance.”

It will be interesting to see if/when these get implemented on a nationwide level.

Yu Darvish will have a MRI on his elbow next week to see if the inflammation is gone. If so, he will start a throwing program in December.The same article states Prince Fielder, Tanner Scheppers  and Alexi Ogando are each fully recovered from their last injuries.

Albert Pujols admits to injuries bothering him since 2012 and what he is working on for 2015.

Before scoffing, take account of the history here. In the offseason leading up to 2013, Pujols under-went arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. In the offseason leading up to 2014, he was coming off a year that ended two months prematurely due to a partial tear of his left plantar fascia. And though Pujols said his right knee and left foot didn’t necessarily bother him this past season, his right side hasn’t been at full strength since the stretch run of the 2012 season.

That’s why this offseason means so much to him.

“The thing that I’m excited about is just to get my leg strong,” Pujols said. “I think that’s something I’m going to be able to do this year.”
Pujols is getting pitched to more aggressively, but fouling off more fastballs and rolling over on more breaking balls.

Those are merely signs of an aging hitter. Drop-offs are to be expected, and Pujols’ drop-offs still make him above average at an offensive-minded position. The expectation that he’ll morph back into the otherworldly hitter he was in St. Louis — a byproduct of the seven years and $189 million remaining on his back-loaded contract — is both unfair and unrealistic. The Angels would simply be thrilled with Pujols duplicating his 2014 season multiple times over.

But Pujols himself has higher expectations, and it all revolves around getting that right knee at full strength again.

The right knee seems to be the key right now.

Dustin Pedroia is at “full strength”.

“It was just frustrating,” he said of the injury that nagged him during the season. “The year before, I found a way to perform, playing nicked up. The year before it was a loose feeling — I tore that ligament in my thumb and everything just felt loose, so I was able to figure it out and let the ball travel more and just try to slap balls the other way and get hits and not try to drive the ball. This year it was more, I was restricted. I didn’t have any motion. It was so swollen and tight all year, I couldn’t get a feel of how to get through it. It was tough. I fought it all year.

“Now that it’s fixed, it’s night and day. I can already tell that. There’s a lot of IOU’s to hand out to people, so I’m pretty excited about it.”

Added Pedroia: “I feel great. I’m back to a hundred percent. I’m doing all my lifts and everything. My rehab’s going good. I’m full strength and I’m pretty excited. It’s been a long time since I’ve been myself. It’s going to be a lot of fun next year.”

He could be a buy low candidate after struggling for two straight seasons

• A chance exists Garrett Richards will not be ready for the season’s start.

Doctors said Richards would need six to nine months to recover from his surgery. Though the Angels have no desire or plans to rush him, there is a good chance Richards could be ready for the start of the 2015 season.

Daniel Hudson will start in Arizona’s bullpen next year and if able, will transition to the rotation.

“We had a discussion about that, and we’re not really sure,” Stewart said. “We’d like to best utilize him in a way that we can get the most out of him. We’re going to have to have more discussions with our training staff, and I’d like to ask some people externally about what they think of his condition and how we can best utilize him without hurting him.”

Having thrown so few innings over the past two years, Hudson knows he can’t handle a full starter’s workload in 2015, meaning that even if they plan to shift him back to the rotation, the Diamondbacks likely will still look to add a starter this offseason.

Hudson doesn’t want to be shut down before the end of the season, the way right-hander Stephen Strasburg was by the Washington Nationals in 2012. As a workaround, Hudson suggested starting the season in the bullpen before moving into the rotation, the same strategy Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart said his team is considering with Beachy and Medlen.

Buy as a bullpen arm, possibly get a starter later in the season.

Brett Gardner had off season surgery on a core muscle and says he will be ready for spring training.

• Peter Bourjos had hip surgery in October for a problem he knew about since August. He reports he is improving and will be ready for spring training.

• The Braves are considering bringing back Kris Medlen back, but at a reduced salary.

The Braves have decisions to make on arbitration-eligible pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, each recovering from a second Tommy John elbow surgery after blowing out in consecutive days last spring training. Neither can be counted on to be ready to begin the season and both are non-tender candidates because of health and projected arbitration salaries — $5.8 million for Medlen and $1.5 million for Beachy.

It’s believed the Braves are leaning toward bringing back Medlen, perhaps on a reduced contract with incentives. He was one of their top two starting pitchers in 2013 and won three National League Pitcher of the Month awards from August 2012 through September 2013.

Medlen’s recovery has gone smoothly so far, and if the Braves think he could be back strong at some point early in the season then it could lessen the need to add more than one other proven starter to replace Santana and Harang, who had more than 400 innings between them in 2014, as well as veteran Gavin Floyd, who was impressive in nine starts before fracturing his pitching elbow

Hector Sanchez is playing baseball for the first time in Venezula after his July 25 concussion.

(*) 15 Day Disabled List
(**) 60 Day Disabled List
(***) 7 Day Concussion List
(****) Free Agent
Red colored entries are updates since last report.

Players with Injuries Going into 2015

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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