Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Side Session

-- The beat reporters tell us that Bryan Morris and Jimmy Barthmaier are both hurt, and are going to miss several weeks. Fortunately, neither injury looks like it will need the knife to correct.

Morris' has right shoulder pain, described as significantly restricted range of motion without structural damage (an impingement; no ligament damage, as first feared) that will keep him out four to six weeks. Barthmaier's right elbow injury, suffered Friday, was diagnosed as inflammation with a strained flexor mass, and will keep him out for up to a month.

Morris' injury is of concern; you may recall that an impingement in Phil Dumatrait's shoulder didn't come around after rehab last season and led to surgery. He's still out.

Morris will be shut down from throwing for two weeks, and Barthmaier for three. Yoslan Herrera was promoted from the Curve; he'll go to the pen while Ty Taubenheim takes Barthmaier's place in the rotation; no word yet on how Altoona will shuffle their pitching, though Dan McCutchen was put on their roster after his last start just as a temporary paper move. Lefty Chi-Hung Cheng replaced Morris in Lynchburg's rotation

-- The Pirates covered a lot of bases with the pre-game stuff for the opener. They had a moment of silence for the three officers slain in Stanton Heights, followed by pipers playing "Amazing Grace" and a flyover of Apache helicopters.

Nate McLouth was presented with his 2008 Golden Glove Award. Steve Blass celebrated his 50th year as part of the Pirate organization by throwing out the first pitch to Manny Sanguillen.

Honor was paid to recently departed organist Vince Laschied, and the late Guy Buzzelli, Pirate ticket salesman, received the Pride of the Pirates award for raising money for muscular dystrophy.

-- Just a thought...Ben Sheets will be available to sign without giving up a draft pick in June. If the Pirates are still in the hunt after a couple of months, GW can think of worse ways to bulk up the staff than to take a shot at him.

-- Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, whose brilliant rookie season with the 1976 Tigers made him a national story, died in a truck accident on his Massachusetts farm at age 54.

Fidrych won 19 games that season, and his 2.34 ERA and 24 complete games were the best in the Major Leagues. He was the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game, won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and finished second in voting for the Cy Young Award.

The 21 year-old Bird would crouch down on the pitcher's mound and smooth out the dirt with his hands, talk to both himself and the ball, aim the ball like a dart, chase wind-blown wrappers across the infield, pace around the mound after every out, and throw back balls that "had hits in them," insisting they be removed from the game.

After throwing one ball back, he explained "That ball has a hit in it, so I want it to get back in the ball bag and goof around with the other balls in there. Maybe it'll learn some sense and come out as a pop-up next time."

But by July of 1977, he had blown out his arm and pitched just 16 more times before being released at the age of 25; he retired at 29. It took them until 1985 to discover he had a torn rotator cuff, far too late to repair the damage.

-- Harry Kalas, the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies, died Monday in Washington. He was found unconscious in the broadcast booth.

Kalas was inducted into the broadcaster's wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 2002, after winning the Ford C. Frick Award, which is presented to announcers who made major contributions to baseball.

Kalas, 73, was a MLB broadcaster for 44 years, spending the past 39 years with the Phillies. He also did some work for NFL films.

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