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Oswalt, A-Rod ailing; Zito, Braden on DL

4/18/2011

• The Philadelphia Phillies' much admired starting rotation has been dealt a blow, but it appears to be a minor one. Roy Oswalt left Friday's game with what the team called a lower back strain, although he later referred to the issue as back spasms. Oswalt, who has dealt with back pain over several years and has a history of a disc protrusion, told the Philadelphia Inquirer this episode was more in the middle of his back. he described the pain as, "not to the point where it's unbearable, but it's to the point where I didn't want to keep pushing it and then maybe miss my next start." By Sunday, Oswalt indicated he was feeling better and he is slated to throw a bullpen session Monday. If all goes well, he could still make his next start which has been pushed a day later (to Thursday) after Saturday's rainout.

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez pulled himself from the game Saturday in what he said was a precautionary move, according to ESPN New York. Rodriguez was experiencing low back and left-sided stiffness and exited the game after six innings. "I like to think that I pulled myself out, hopefully with the perfect timing," Rodriguez said. "I felt that if I went out and took a violent swing perhaps I could have put myself at risk for a couple of weeks." An MRI taken Sunday came back negative and it's possible Rodriguez could return to the lineup as soon as Tuesday. The Yankees would not be inclined to rush him and risk a more severe setback, so it will likely come down to how Rodriguez feels from day to day.

• Although San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito was able to make his first start of the season shortly after a scary car accident, he has now been forced onto the DL for the first time in his 12-year career with an injury sustained in a game. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Zito's right foot was swollen and he was on crutches after spraining his arch in Saturday's game. The injury is unusual for a pitcher, and it occurred in an unusual fashion as Zito attempted to field a pop-up bunt. A sprain in the midfoot region can create problems with weight transfer, something a pitcher's landing foot must do effectively for normal ball release and follow-through. Zito is currently in a walking boot and will not return to a normal shoe until the pain and swelling have subsided. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Zito is undergoing additional tests Monday to ensure there are no additional complicating factors. Given Zito's current diagnosis, with the time required to resume absorbing the impact of throwing off the rubber, it will undoubtedly be longer than 15 days for him to be ready to return.

• The Oakland Athletics have placed Dallas Braden on the DL on Monday after shoulder stiffness forced him to leave his Saturday start after five innings. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Braden indicated he had never felt this type of discomfort in his shoulder before, which is always worrisome. Someone like Braden, who has performed the same activity year in and year out and who is accustomed to the standard aches and pains that come with the job, knows when there is a new sensation that warrants concern.

There is an interesting backstory here, which may or may not have relevance to Braden's current injury. In 2009 Braden underwent surgery on his left foot (stance leg) reportedly to remove a cyst. As reported on MLB.com, Braden claims he was left with peroneal nerve damage and associated complications, which he alleges were a consequence of the procedure. This led to him filing a medical negligence suit in 2010 against the surgeon. According to MLB.com, the complaint states that "damage, instability and sensitivity of his left foot will cause biomechanical problems with his pitching delivery system, which will likely result in further injury and shortening of his pitching career."

It is no secret that injuries in a pitcher's lower half are troublesome because of their potential to create compensations in the upper half. If in fact Braden has altered his delivery because of lingering foot problems, it is certainly possible that he has increased the strain on his throwing shoulder. Then again, virtually all pitchers are at risk for breaking down in their throwing arm at some point in their career, simply because of the repetitive nature of what they do. While there may be no definitive means of determining what led to Braden's current setback, it certainly makes for an interesting discussion. In the meantime the A's are hoping this will not translate to an extensive absence for Braden.

Plenty more to come this week in the way of player updates as some guys are nearing a return ... if we can just have a few days without losing someone else to the disabled list!