This Week in the National League

Injuries, Injuries, Injuries

There has been much talk in the recent week about how home runs, total runs scored per game, and even pitching velocity is down this young season. Speculation has begun linking the decreasing numbers to the "post-steroid" era. Another area of concern, possibly related, rests in the rash of injuries that continue to pile up throughout the league. It seems like a day doesn't go by that some fairly high-ranking baseball player lands on the Disabled List. Could some of these be linked to the steroid controversy – not necessarily because any of these athletes put their bodies in harms way by using performance enhancers, but maybe because everyone's playing that much harder trying to get a competitive edge in what appears to be a more level playing field? We're probably never going to get the answers we want, but one thing we do know is that the injury list isn't getting any shorter.

Even with folks like Lance Berkman, Jose Cruz Jr., and Khalil Greene back off the DL, and fellas like Joe Borowski and Eric Gagne on the comeback trail, the National League's laundry list of Missing In Action continues to grow.

Here are the most notable to hit the DL this past week:

Tops on the list belongs to Jason Schmidt. The high-priced ace of the San Francisco Giants had been struggling in the past couple weeks and finally landed on the DL with shoulder problems. Recent reports indicate the injury is a strain. The worrisome thing is that the symptoms sound eerily similar to those related to the injury that sidelined Borowski last season. For Schmidt's sake, as well as the Giants, let's hope that this is only a minor setback.

Next on the list we move to Jeff Bagwell. The mainstay at first base for the Astros finally landed on the 15-day DL. Though plagued with chronic shoulder problems, Bagwell avoided the DL for years. In fact, he missed just 12 games the past three seasons. He reportedly spoke of pain and difficulty just tossing the ball around during warm-ups. It's amazing he lasted this long. The club is hopeful he will be able to get back in the lineup after a short time out.

In an unintended effort to clean up the overflowing outfield controversy in Cincinnati, Wily Mo Pena landed on the DL with a quadriceps strain. In just 48 at-bats the young slugger was hitting .313 with 6 HRs and 12 RBIs. This now gives the rest of the outfield a chance to prove their worth, because this kid has proven he deserves to play every day.

In a surprising move, Philadelphia's Tim Worrell landed on the DL because of "personal psychological issues". There has been no report for when he is expected to return. In the meantime, Ryan Madson looks to fill in the gap as setup man for Billy Wagner. He had a pretty good first go at it, striking out both Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez on Saturday with the tying run standing on third base.

Sticking with pitchers, Tim Redding landed on the 15-day DL with a strained shoulder. Sporting a 0-5 record with an 8.76 ERA, this may be the final motivation for San Diego to finally move on with a replacement. On the upside, Tim Stauffer got a win in his first MLB start Wednesday and could look to fill in for the ailing Redding.

The Nationals took a blow to their surprising fast start to the season this past week as they lost veteran second baseman Jose Vidro to a high ankle sprain. The move to the 15-day DL was retroactive to May 5, so this should only be a short stint for Vidro and the Nats.

Just when he was starting to come around, Craig Wilson injured his finger and landed on the DL. The Pirates slugger had surgery for the injury and will probably miss two months. Daryle Ward, who has proven he can put up some decent power numbers, looks to benefit with added playing time in place of Wilson.

Two players to watch the wires for are NL power hitters Scott Rolen and Chipper Jones. Rolen collided with LA first baseman Hee-Seop Choi and had to leave the game Tuesday night. At the time this was drafted he was listed as day-to-day pending results of an x-ray, but he'll probably miss at least a few games. Jones, on the other hand, has been dealing with a sore foot. He missed seven straight starts, but has been in the lineup as of late. The injury is concerning, but so long as he can continue to play through pain and produce, he'll be leading that Atlanta offense.

Got questions, comments, or suggestions? Email Pete at pete@petekhazen.com


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