Alvarez has made such progress that he departed for Los Angeles, then is scheduled for another rehab start for Las Vegas in Fresno this week. Miller, of course, is not nearly so advanced but has taken a step down the road toward recovery from his second shoulder surgery which was performed in the off-season.
The lefthander, once regarded as the most promising pitcher in the organization, had begun throwing before this but, after some pain, was shut down again. Now, he's resumed, just tossing lightly, first with a tennis ball, then a baseball. His movement seemed free and the ball was moving well as he threw, even this lightly.
Of course, he's still not ready to throw off a mound with game action even further away. Others among the rehabilitating corps are much closer, some even returning to competition.
Joel Hanrahan, who suffered a hamstring strain during spring training with the Dodgers, has been doing a rehab assignment at Vero Beach. So far, he's made two starts, performing rather spotted in the first, much better in the second. Jarod Plummer, who's had all sorts of arm troubles the past two seasons, is once again in the Vero bullpen while Zach Hammes has overcome his arm soreness and is being tried as the Columbus closer after having been a starter previously.
Two who were on the Los Angeles 40-man roster this spring but who saw no action then are now working in extended camp games -- Ryan Ketchner and Orlando Rodriguez. Ketchner seems the more advanced of the two at this stage. Brian Pilkington, who sat out all last season after having his shoulder surgically repaired, has been working regularly in the camp and feels ready to go. Others who missed all of last season who are now pitching regularly and waiting for a job to open up include Steve Nelson and Liam O'Flaherty.
But Marshall Looney, who came back from a shoulder operation to pitch for Columbus at the end of last season, put such a strain on his elbow that he's now had Tommy John surgery and will miss another year. And some of those who began the season healthy are now out action including two of 2004's top draft choices.
Scott Elbert, who was L.A.'s first choice in said draft, has pulled a muscle in his side so is on the Columbus disabled list. Justin Orenduff, a supplemental first-rounder, has strained his arm so has been backed off at Vero. And in what some might regard as inevitable, lefthander Hong-Chi Kuo is also once again on the D.L. after making just one start at Vero.
Kuo, whose fast ball reached 96 mph but who threw only four curves in a three-inning stint, reported elbow aches so was shut down. However, he asserts it's only a temporary setback and promises a quick return as does Orenduff.
Although pitchers comprise the main body of the injured, position players are not exempt. Catcher Chris Westervelt, who hit .341 at Ogden in his rookie season, has had surgery on his arm so will probably miss the year. Mat Kemp, who had a splendid spring, sprained his wrist but is working his way back to the Vero outfield as is Xavier Paul, who suffered a lower back strain. Paul is playing in camp games, Kemp hasn't yet.
Ryan Carter, who missed all of 2004 after an arm operation, is hitting the ball very well in extended games and reports his arm strong again. He hit .310 for Ogden in 2003
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