Angel fans were no doubt shocked last night when the Angels starting line-up was announced with Vladimir Guerrero’s name conspicuously absent.
It turns out that Vlad was sent back to Anaheim to get the team doctor to look at his apparent strained pectoral muscle. The injury has been bothering Guerrero since late in spring training and relegated him to designated hitter duty all season long as a result. I had first thought that this was just an excuse made up by Mike Scioscia to move Guerrero to DH and spare the team his buffoonery in the outfield. Turns out the injury is legit and possibly fairly serious.
According to Vlad, the injury only bothers him when he throws and not when he hits (his .658 OPS begs to differ). So the question has to be asked, if he can hit with the injury, why did he have to leave the team for at least two games to get it checked out? The team doctor couldn’t wait until Tuesday to examine him? Sounds to me like there is more going on here.
This wouldn’t be the first time the Angels have gone Baghdad Bob on us in regards to a Vladi injury. Remember a few years ago when they tried to sell us on the idea that Vlad is limping around the outfield because one of his legs is slightly longer than the other and not because his knees have turned into oatmeal after running around in Montreal where the stadium floor was essentially concrete? Sounds to me like the fans are getting snowed here.
Vlad might say that the injury isn’t bothering his swing, but all the evidence is to the contrary. For starters, his numbers stink so far this season, but perhaps more troubling is that his bat looks very slow this season. If the injury isn’t impeding his swing, then he is just getting old and the Angels have a whole lot more to worry about this season. And again, if he is DHing full-time and the injury isn’t bothering him in the batter’s box, why have him jet away in the middle of a road trip?
The Angels have promised an update soor, most likely later today, after Guerrero gets checked out, but for now he is out indefinitely (a word that basically means “hopefully day-to-day but we are scared out of our wits that he is going to be out for a very long time”). Until he does return, and I would bet it isn’t until the Angels return home on Tuesday, at the earliest, Torii Hunter is going to have to remain red hot and continue carrying the Angel offense. Gary Matthews and Juan Rivera should both start everyday now rather than platoon, which is actually a good thing because it should hopefully get Rivera on track, as he seems to always play better with consistent at-bats. As for Matthews, well, it should improve the outfield defense and give him one last chance to prove he is worth all the money he is stealing earning from Arte Moreno.