Shin-Soo Choo's elbow is hurting, or his arm near his elbow, or whatever it is, we're not happy about it. The Indians have taken the procedural initiative and filed a grievance, exercising their right to keep Choo from playing. The Times headline says "Indians Try To Keep Choo Out Of WBC", but this truly is a case of "do or do not, there is no try." The Indians have every right to pull Choo from the series if they want to, either because of his time on the DL during the 2008 season or because of his current injury. Those are the rules, as Team South Korea's manager readily acknowledged:
The final decision to decide is with the professional team in the U.S. We have to have big ears to listen to what the decision-makers are saying.
So, that settles that. In the AP account, Shapiro sums up the Indians' view succinctly:
It's an uncomfortable situation for us.
Which means several things. For one, they'd like to allow Choo to play for his country. For another, they might even like to curry favor with the South Korean government, with an eye toward making Choo's military obligation less of an issue in 2011. (I'm speculating on this, but when I asked Chris Antonetti about this in January, he was pretty insistent that the Indians have no standing to negotiate on that issue, that it's strictly between Choo and his government.) But no doubt the most uncomfortable thing for Shapiro is that he trusts in his own medical staff above anyone else, and right now, Choo is in Japan.
In Castrovince's overview of the situation, we learn for the first time that Choo's involvement in the WBC always came with preconditions:
In the first round of the Classic, he is forbidden from playing in the outfield more than one of the potential three games. In the second round, he can only appear in the outfield in two games, and they must not be consecutive.
It intrigues me when little details like this go unreported for so long. I don't know about you, but I personally had no inkling that the Indians viewed Choo as still being this fragile. Anyway, Castrovince's take on the decision-making doesn't entirely square with other sources:
But when he left the Tribe's camp on Feb. 24 to join his Korean teammates for training in Hawaii, Choo officially became the property of his Classic club. The Korean team will decide whether or not he plays Friday and beyond.
Is this a simple misunderstanding, or a genuine controversy? It is, in fact, pretty serious stuff for a club with minimal quality depth in the outfield. If Choo is injured in the WBC and misses significant time in the regular season, it means more playing time for Dellucci and Crowe, and our badly needed margin for error with Ben Francisco vanishes into nothing. The net result is probably at least one hole in the lineup that we didn't count on having.
Speaking of holes, apparently the one Adam Miller had in his middle finger apparently continues to haunt him. He's been shut down for
four years eight days and will be shut down for at least another eight. What is the deal with this guy's finger, anyway? Well, let me just look it up in my handy-dandy Indians Annual 2009 ...
Miller was squarely in the mix as depth starter for the big-league club the following spring , but he strained a tendon on his troublesome right middle finger, putting him behind the eight-ball as Fausto Carmona sparkled in the majors ... When Miller arrived for spring training in 2008, the finger injury continued to linger, precluding any game action and eliminating any thought of his making the big-league club out of Winter Haven. By mid-May, the problem had been identified as a pulley strain, which had caused multiple blisters and eventually a finger tendon injury, which in turn caused his skin to rub up against the baseball, resulting in two large calluses and an open hole in Miller’s hand. At that point, the Indians opted for surgery, shutting Miller down for the remainder of the minor league season.
You have to hand it to Paul ... that description is totally gnarly. Anyway, I stand by my previous recommendation: It's time to just amputate that finger. We need that arm.
With all this going on, I tend to feel fairly sanguine about Kerry Wood's back soreness. He says he has back soreness every spring; call me stupid, but I believe him. Spring training is a week or two longer this year, so the Indians (and I'm sure some other clubs) are taking it easy with a bunch of their guys early on, especially the ones with significant injury histories. They have a lot more time than they really need for all the veterans to get their work in. The AP wire story says that Wood experienced no problems in his first batting practice session on earlier today:
"It felt good to face hitters," Wood said.
Must ... resist ... layup ... too ... obvious ...