Protect yer pitching hand, Meat!
We all know by now that the on-the-verge-of-triumphantly-reclaiming-his-rightful-closer-role JoeBo stuck his right hand out instinctively yesterday to stop a batted ball, the very same hand with which he throws baseballs with. He shoulda drank another glass of milk for breakfast, for yesterday, this resulted in a break in a hamate bone, which will limit him to light office duties for the next couple of months.
In the movies, even dim bulbs like Nuke LaLoosh learn not to lead with their throwing hand, but in real life, it's hard to teach a Polack to tuck that baby back in. Whatever, this isn't as dumb as Todd Hollandsworth not wearing a shin guard last year, and I'm not just saying this because I've suffered a similar injury in the past. It's an instinctive thing to throw whatever you have handy at a ball bounding right past you.
So, while Joe has extra time to take his wife shopping at Spencers, or whatever it is that Jersey wives do, what does the management-challenged Dusty Baker do now for ninth innings?
Several options exist, all of which contain varying degrees of damage.
I have heard Chad Fox mentioned as a stopgap. Briefly, between Tommy John surgeries, he's done such things. The worry isn't what will happen if he's succesful at the point JoeBo heals, get my meaning.
Some of you have not given up hope of a trade for Octavio Dotel. I would characterize this as "more likely" today than yesterday. But as the third-grade saying goes, if brains were dynamite, Jim Hendry won't have enough to blow Billy Beane's nose. Say goodbye to the Great Corey Patterson. Long term, this may not be a great tragedy, but in the here and now, he's a lot better than Jerry Hairston.
Ryan Dempster? Don't look like the Dumpster has had a dominant spring, by any means.
How about Kerry Wood? Is NOW the time?
I believe that the day WILL come that he will become a closer. He will realize that he is too competitive, too stubborn, and too brittle to be a 200+ inning pitcher, and he will have to make that call when that day arrives. It isn't now, and I'm afraid on this particular bunch, such a radical shift in roles would cause far more many problems than it would solve. Now is NOT the time.
Finally, speaking of now is NOT the time, it's never, ever, ever gonna be LaTroy time. If ever a man has gone out of his way to reject a role, it would be LaTroy Hawkins and his efforts to convince the world that he is not a closer. It won't work, because he doesn't think it will. Let it go, Dusty, dude. Let it go.
Let Chad Fox have the first six weeks. Don't screw Hawkins up any more than he already is.