Yet another ace was sidelined due to injury over the weekend. Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt left the team April 28 to help his family in Mississippi in the aftermath of severe storms that hit the area. He returned to Philly last week and threw a bullpen Thursday, but felt soreness in his back, something he has been experiencing intermittently since April. The next day, Oswalt was added to the disabled list (retroactive to April 27) due to inflammation in his back, something the Philadelphia Daily News reports he referred to as causing "a little bit of concern." Given that Oswalt had not pitched since returning home, the retroactive DL designation gives him approximately a week's recovery time, and he would be eligible to return Friday.
Unfortunately for the Phillies, it does not appear he will be ready just yet. After all, back problems are nothing new for him and no one, especially Oswalt, wants this episode to turn into something more drawn out and more severe. While with the Houston Astros, Oswalt experienced back and leg pain associated with a bulging disc. That injury ended his 2009 season prematurely and reared its head again in spring of 2010. Since that time, he has not had any major episodes of pain or spasm, until now. But back problems are notorious for their recurrence over time. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro told the Philadelphia Inquirer that while Oswalt is progressing this week, "He probably is not going to be ready for the weekend." Oswalt is scheduled to throw another bullpen Tuesday. If he continues to respond well, perhaps he will rejoin the rotation next week. The bigger hope is that this will not be an ongoing challenge for Oswalt throughout the season.
• The Phillies also placed catcher Carlos Ruiz on the DL this weekend. Ruiz has been having trouble with his back since late April. At the time it appeared Ruiz would miss a few days but not require a DL stint. While swinging off a tee a week later, however, Ruiz slightly aggravated the back, leaving his status as day-to-day. The Phillies placed Ruiz on the DL retroactive to April 28 and he hopes to rejoin the team when eligible Friday, if his back cooperates. He has been running and swinging the bat, and he even caught a bullpen session without incident in the past few days. He is now headed to extended spring training in Florida, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Beyond getting his back healthy, the rest for Ruiz may have been good for him, given the demands of his position combined with his workload.
• Meanwhile the Phillies are also getting a player back from the DL. Pitcher Joe Blanton (impingement in his throwing elbow) was activated Monday and will pitch Monday night against the Florida Marlins.
• Over in New York, the Mets made the decision to place pitcher Chris Young on the disabled list ... again. Young has been experiencing some tightness in his surgically repaired shoulder and was scratched from his scheduled Saturday start as a result, then placed on the DL on Sunday for the second time this season.
Young has not been able to pitch consistently since undergoing shoulder surgery in 2009. In 2010, he managed only 20 total innings for the San Diego Padres, most of which came in September. It seemed as if he might be off to a better start this year (two consecutive starts!) but then the biceps flared up and he was sent to the DL in mid-April. Young returned for two more starts, but his velocity was down, causing some concern. When Young reported stiffness in his posterior shoulder, the team went the conservative route and removed him from any chance of playing. Young was also sent for another MRI, which did not yield encouraging results. As ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reported, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said of the imaging results, there is "swelling in the back of his shoulder in the area of an old injury. ... We're not sure the extent of this injury." While the team plans to proceed with caution, it's worth noting that Young says this injury does not feel as severe as the previous episode. "Last year I could barely even pick up a ball," he said. "This, I can go through the motion. It's just grabbing as I try to increase the intensity." Unfortunately, his body has failed to cooperate for any length of time in the past few years.
• Why not end on a positive note? Wednesday is the official projected return date for Chicago White Sox ace Jake Peavy, who is expected to start his first game since undergoing surgery to reattach his latissimus dorsi tendon. Peavy threw 100 pitches in his last rehab start, so it appears he is ready to take on a regular role. He will face the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim and Peavy told reporters Sunday he wants to bring "some enthusiasm, some fire, some passion" to his club when he returns. After what he's been through, how can he not inspire his teammates to kick it up a notch?