Another day of the off-season, another bullpen problem for Andrew Friedman to deal with. Marc Topkin over at the St. Pete Times is reporting that JP Howell's recovery isn't going as swimmingly as many of us had hoped. I think the optimistic consensus around these parts was that JP would be back to Chiller form come the beginning of the season. Most hoped he would quickly step back into the late-inning specialist role giving the Rays at least one key reliable cog to work with out of the pen as they look to rebuild the group.
Friedman didn't paint the rosiest picture when updating JP's health:
"He's been incredibly diligent in the rehab process, he is as motivated as he can be to get back, and I think one thing all of us have learned about J.P. is to not bet against him, but it's going to be difficult," Friedman said. "It's going to be something that's hard to predict until he gets back on the mound and starts throwing pitches. I would definitely anticipate him missing some time, but I think it's hard to say whether that's coming back in May or July."
It's always tough to predict how a player will bounce back from injury, especially something that sidelines a player for nearly a year. Unfortunately, I still have Will Carroll's old quote regarding pitchers and torn labrums in the back of my head, "If pitchers with torn labrums were horses, they'd be destroyed." I don't want to go overboard on this report, but from someone who was a Giants fan, it's not fun thinking of what happened to Jason Schmidt and Robb Nenn.
As Topkin reports, Howell thinks his missed time will be limited. I'm hoping he's right.
Yesterday, Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweeted that the Blue Jays have signed Winston Abreu. Details are scarce on this deal, but assuming he's right, then we have another blow to the bullpen effort. While Abreu has only had limited time in the Majors recently (6 innings in 2009), he dominated AAA over the past two seasons.
In 55.1 innings last year Abreu posted a 2.28 ERA with a 13.3 K/9 and 3.9 K/BB ratios. While one has to be skeptical of why a 33 yo with swing-and-miss stuff has still been floating around the minors, your guess is as good as mine. I can attest, as someone who has seen him pitch on numerous occasions over the past two years, that I'd be happy with him has my 4th man out of the pen. I was expecting to see him in 2011 with the Rays in that role, but it looks like that's not the case.
One other story that caught my attention was this one. You might of noticed the blurb in Topkin's piece, and I'm guessing that today it will be the case on a variety of outlets. But I don't understand how people can read that MLB granted 110 total therapeutic drug use exemptions with 105 being for treatment of ADD, and that 13 of the 15 positive tests for stimulants were for Adderall (meaning these 13 were not granted exemptions) and not think something fishy is going on. My quick back of the envelope calc comes up with 1280 MLB players (just assuming that everyone on the 40 man roster sees time in the majors, so this should be high). With 118 known users of Adderall, that is 9.2% of MLBers. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 4.1% of adults between the ages of 18-44 are affected by ADHD (of which I'm suspecting much less than that are actually seeking treatment).
So it appears the fans aren't the only ones who have trouble staying focused through an MLB entire game.