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Spring Training: Injuries, Photos, Pitchers and Steroids

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Welcome to today’s edition of good things happening to bad people. Otherwise known as the baseball injury blotter.

Our first entry belongs to one Brandon Backe. Backe, who’s been recovering from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss most of the 2006-2007 seasons, was slotted for a shot in the Astros starting rotation. On Saturday, he was struck in the right foot by a line drive, causing a bone bruise which will cause him to miss his first spring training start. This serves to further throw the Astros rotation into chaos and might open the door even wider signing Rockie / Yankee / Pirate reject Shawn Chacon.

The next injury belongs to the Phillies Brad Lidge – and if there’s anyone out there who’s cursed, it’s got to be Lidge. Lidge, who had off-season knee surgery, caught a cleat on the mound on his first batting practice pitch Saturday morning, damaging that same knee. Lidge will be having surgery today and is expected to miss three to six weeks as he recovers – it’s possible that he will miss the team’s season opener.

Hey, speaking of injuries, did you see that Lance Berkman is injured? Again. What is it about this guy and spring training that just invites injury? Who knows, maybe if he did some offseason work, he might be in a bit better shape come February and he wouldn’t have to be bothering with the little injuries he gets every year. This time out, he’s dealing with a strained right oblique which has limited the switch hitter to batting from only his right side. However, as any Astros watcher knows, Berkman’s the far superior hitter when batting from his left.

Meanwhile, in Houston, having been burned on every other deal he made during the offseason, Astros general manager Ed Wade must just be laughing about Brad Lidge’s injury. He was finally able to get one over on somebody else – and no, just because Troy Patton has arm problems does not mean the Astros got the better of the deal with the Baltimore Orioles involving Miguel Tejada. While Tejada may help to provide the team with more offense, it’s not really known how he’s going to react from the scrutiny over not just being named in the Mitchell Report, but also from being the subject of a Justice Department investigation for lying under oath.

Is Tejada going to perform like Barry Bonds, who’s been under investigation for years, or is he going to perform like Jason Giambi who was nearly sent to the minors – and who the Yankees were contemplating dropping from the club – because he spent nearly a year unable to hit after the BALCO controversy went public?

But speaking of controversy, I see that the Rocket might be making an appearance at Astros camp as he comes to check on his kid. Maybe Rocket can get together with Tejada and they can swap tales about lying under oath. The interesting news coming from the Rocket camp is that yes, maybe, indeed, Rocket did put in a little time at the infamous 1998 Jose Canseco party. Of course, thanks to the Nanny, we do know that Rocket was there. But the news is that there might actually be some photographic evidence of Rocket’s attendance. It seems that a then-11-year-old neighbor of Canseco got to drop in on the party, and he brought his camera and took photos of his favorite players. And, apparently, one of these players is Rocket. And, though he’s not seen the photo, Rocket attorney Rusty Hardin is now saying that Rocket was there.

Oh, hey, Rusty, the next time some possibly contradictory evidence is offered for you to look at, before the opposition even knows that it exists, you might want to actually look at it instead of taking your time escorting your client around Congress. It appears that Rocket’s sojourn among the halls of Congress might have backfired, because apparently the father of the boy in question says they decided to make the photo known to Brian McNamee’s people after Dan Burton (R-Idiot) went off on McNamee during the hearings, and it’s doubtful Burton would’ve been such an ass if the Rocket hadn’t stopped by to autograph a few baseballs for him.

Hey, Drayton, seeing as how Backe’s injured and that you’re relying on Shawn Chacon, maybe you should have a little chat with Rocket. I’m sure that he’ll work for cheap now so that he can further clear his name.

Which brings me full circle and back to Brandon Backe and the Astros God awful starting rotation… Backe’s penciled in as the number two guy in the rotation. And though I like Backe, he’s done nothing in his career to indicate that he’s much better than the number three guy in a poor rotation – in good rotations (i.e. the Padres where Hall-of-Famer to be Greg Maddux is the number three guy and Mark Prior will be lucky to crack the top five) Backe wouldn’t be among the top five candidates to start. That he’s the number two guy for the Astros speaks volumes to the ineptness of the Astros front office and farm system.

So, even though Richard Justice is telling me that Woody Williams is a new man, I’m convinced this will be a long Astros season of bad pitching, lots of offense, and lots of legal investigations.

Astros Baseball: Is The Season Over Yet? – John Royal

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