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chuck-jamess-worrisome-shoulder | February | 2008 Articles

2008 Archives

Chuck James's Worrisome Shoulder

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The Braves' top three starters are set: 40 year-old John Smoltz, 32 year-old Tim Hudson, 41 year-old Tom Glavine. The back end of the rotation, again, is unclear. In the almost certain absence of Mike Hampton (currently penciled in as the fourth starter), all the pitchers currently in the mix for the fifth starter spot will get to duke it out for the fourth slot as well. This is the same problem we had last year. The good news for the #4 spot is that we have Chuck James with his 109 career ERA+, who would be a good mid-rotation starter on any team. The bad news is Chuck wasn't healthy last year -- he now attributes his mediocre season to a partial collarbone tear -- and he isn't healthy yet. Here's AJC beat writer David O'Brien (whom you should of course read whenever possible), on February 1: Chuck James is only now starting to throw off flat ground from 90 feet. He and Braves still believe he’ll be ready for spring training, but I have my doubts. And when he confides that his shoulder is still a bit sore some days … well, I’ve got my doubts about him and that shoulder, let’s just put it that way. The next day: I shouldn’t overstate Chuck’s shoulder issue. I mean, maybe it turns out to be nothing more than typical soreness for a guy who didn’t throw all winter because he was advised not to in order to recover from the partial rotator-cuff tear he says he was diagnosed with after the season. But seems that worst-case rather than best-case scenarios unfold more often in these matters. Again, nothing to base it on so far but hunches and past examples, so wait a while before getting too concerned. I'm fine with waiting a while before getting too concerned. But since I set out to fearmonger, I'd better keep going. It's hard to forget that John Smoltz's shoulder was barking last year, and that his golden right arm has thrown 667 1/3 innings the last three years since moving back to the rotation. By way of praising the current rotation's depth, Smoltz said, “Last year we didn’t have the luxury of me or Hudson skipping a start. This year, we might.” That's a luxury I think we'd all prefer to avoid. Especially considering that Mike Hampton, currently, has a cleaner bill of health than Chuck James.

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