CBSSports.com Senior Baseball Columnist

Weekend Buzz: Star players getting injured in alarming numbers

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Four days after teammate Mat Gamel tears his ACL, Milwaukee's Alex Gonzalez hurts his knee. (Getty Images)  
Four days after teammate Mat Gamel tears his ACL, Milwaukee's Alex Gonzalez hurts his knee. (Getty Images)  

The Weekend Buzz while you were feasting on carne and pollo asada, and maybe even a margarita or two in honor of Cinco De Mayo. ...

1. More Advil and ice, please: If there is one thing to say about the 2012 season so far, it is this:

Ouch!

Major league baseball already is reaching its pain threshold, and it's not even Mothers Day. The photo of Mariano Rivera, face contorted in anguish as he was on the ground in Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium the other day, speaks for a ludicrous number of players.

"I'm worried about our industry with the number of injuries in our game," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin was saying the day before the great Yankees closer went down during a conversation in San Diego. "When you have this many top-quality players down and missing the whole year, it's scary."

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The list of players missing significant time this season is staggering, and yet another was added when Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth broke his left wrist trying to make a sliding catch.

It includes several 2011 All-Stars: Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox), Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox), Pablo Sandoval (Giants), Michael Pineda (Yankees), Cliff Lee (Phillies), Carlos Quentin (Padres) and Brian Wilson (Giants).

It includes a long list of closers: Wilson, Rivera, Ryan Madson (Reds), Joakim Soria (Royals), Drew Storen (Nationals), Andrew Bailey (Red Sox), Kyle Farnsworth (Rays), Sergio Santos (Blue Jays) and Huston Street (Padres).

It includes cornerstone players: Ryan Howard (Phillies), Chase Utley (Phillies), Evan Longoria (Rays), Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals), Chris Young (Diamondbacks), Daniel Hudson (Diamondbacks), Justin Morneau (Twins) and Jason Bay (Mets).

It includes key starting pitchers: Doug Fister (Tigers), Mike Pelfrey (Mets), Chris Narveson (Brewers), Jeremy Guthrie (Rockies), Tim Stauffer (Padres), Cory Luebke (Padres) and Dustin Moseley (Padres). It includes key position players: Mat Gamel (Brewers), Lorenzo Cain (Royals) and Nolan Reimold (Orioles).

"It's all over the game," Melvin said. "We're talking about star-quality talent missing a lot of time. We have more injuries in baseball than we ever have. It's really scary. You can't plan on it."

Melvin was speaking the day after Gamel, the Brewers' projected replacement for Prince Fielder, was lost for what probably will be the season with a knee injury. By their trip's end Sunday in San Francisco, the Brewers had lost their shortstop (Alex Gonzalez) and an outfielder (Carlos Gomez), and NL MVP Ryan Braun had missed a game-and-a-half with a sore Achilles tendon.

Every day, it's someone else. It's something significant. Hot tubs and cold tubs are working overtime. BenGay budgets are blowing up.

"People talk about there being more nutrition, more conditioning, yet we have all of these injuries," Melvin said. "As an industry, it's something that you look at.

"Almost every team has a premium guy down."

You wonder, when is it going to stop? And why is it happening?

2. Mo' Shagging Blues: If your gut reaction after Rivera went down was to wonder why in the world pitchers are shagging during batting practice in the first place, you're not alone. But it's not that simple. As Blue Jays manager -- and former pitcher -- John Farrell noted, Rivera has been doing it his entire career. It's part of how he stays in such great shape, and he loves doing it. As several Yankees will tell you, he has been the best athlete on several of his Yankees teams. John Smoltz used to do the same thing in Atlanta during batting practice. Bottom line: There's a fine line between a worst-case scenario moment like the one Rivera suffered and keeping these guys in a hermetically sealed glass case.

Just a couple of days before Rivera went down, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez banned Frisbee throwing before games in the outfield. "It isn't bad," Gonzalez told reporters. "But I don't want to have to ask any questions if something happened." It's not the asking that's difficult. It's the answering of those questions.

3. Orioles, Red Sox and Chris Davis: Davis became the first player in recorded history -- since 1918 -- to fan five times and ground into a double play in his first six at-bats, according to Baseball-Reference.com. On the flip side, he earned the first pitching victory by an American League position player since Rocky Colavito in 1968. Davis went 0 for 8 and stranded five runners ... and worked two innings in relief for the win in the Orioles' 9-6, 17-inning victory Sunday. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the only other two players in recorded history to whiff five times and ground into a double play in a game were Jim Thome, with the Phillies in 2004, and Bobby Darwin, with the Twins in 1972.

4. Albert Pujols goes deep: Snaps a career-high drought of 110 at-bats without a home run, then crosses home plate and returns to an empty dugout. Every Angel, including the coaches and manager Mike Scioscia, disappeared up the tunnel in a prank. Perfectly executed, too. Of course, they had five weeks to plan it. Even Chone Figgins, whom the Mariners benched, is out-hitting Pujols. A total of 273 players clubbed at least one home run this year before Pujols finally hit his first.

5. Jamie Moyer and the Rocket Scientists: The Braves were livid when he accused them of stealing signs Saturday in Atlanta's come-from-behind 13-9 victory. Chipper Jones attributed the Braves' rally directly to the pitcher's whining and, Sunday, told Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki told him "Moyer's signs were so complicated it'd take NASA to decipher them anyway." Moyer surrendered six runs (five earned) and 10 hits in five innings, eliciting this tweet from Peter Moylan (@PeterMoylan): "With all due respect Mr Moyer, take the ass whipping with dignity.#soreloser."

6. Heath Bell loses Marlins closer's job: You would never know the Marlins have won six consecutive games. Bell has blown four of seven save opportunities and has lost his job. Hanley Ramirez is hitting .218. Gaby Sanchez is hitting .209 with one home run. The Marlins are hitting .198 with runners in scoring position, and .138 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

What does manager Ozzie Guillen see?

"A lot of double plays," Guillen said. "That's what I see."

On the flip side, Giancarlo Stanton has crushed four home runs during the six-game winning streak. And Mark Buehrle did what he does: Contributed a perfectly timed complete game Saturday night with the bullpen gassed after a 12-inning affair Friday (which now seems tame compared to the Orioles-Red Sox on Sunday).

7. The Bryce is Right: Love him or hate him, you can't take your eyes off Bryce Harper. His recall from the minors was supposed to be temporary, and in one week, he has shown he belongs. No way the Nats send him back now. He plays with emotion, but the whole key is to channel that emotion the right way -- as he did in swiping home plate Sunday night, the first steal of his career, after reaching base when Cole Hamels drilled him. Into Sunday night, the Nationals had beaten the Phillies in seven consecutive games. Looks like a changing of the guard in the NL East.

8. They're not Princes in the bullpen: Last year, the Tigers were 77-0 in games when leading from the seventh inning on. This year, they've already lost five of those games (10-5). It's not as easy as Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit made it look in 2011.

9. Andy Pettitte in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: But what's not clear is whether this is part of his extended spring training, or if the judge in the retrial of Roger Clemens simply optioned him to Triple-A following his confused testimony this week.

10. Cleveland and Johnny Damon both rock: The eternally youthful outfielder joins the Indians and immediately talks October. "It's great to be with a team that's hungry to win, hungry to get to a World Series, ready to go all-out every game," Damon told Cleveland reporters. "In just a couple days, these young guys have helped give me new life, too."

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