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February 21, 2007 at 1:31 PM

Rough day for catchers

Glad I wasn’t crouching behind home plate today. It seems like anyone who was, save for Rene Rivera, had to be helped off the field. First, it was Jeff Clement taking a foul tip off his fingernail that left him in a great deal of pain and the nail looking none too pretty. He actually had to go to the hospital for precautionary X-Rays and is expected to be sidelined a couple of days.
But what really must have made GM Bill Bavasi’s heart thump was the sight of Kenji Johjima taking a Jose Guillen foul tip off the throat. The ball ran in right under Johjima’s chin guard and caught him on the neck. Johjima spent the next half hour walking around trying to get his breath back, but he’s expected to be out there again tomorrow.
So, it’s safe to say the catchers dodged a major bullet, even if they couldn’t avoid the actual baseballs.
Speaking of Guillen, manager Mike Hargrove confirmed that he is giving him extra running drills so he can “shed a few pounds” and get closer to his past playing weight. Hargrove went out of his way to caution that this doesn’t mean Guillen is overweight, out of shape, unable to meet expectations, etc. He just wants him at the weight he used to be at, rather than bulkier. Guillen did some heavy-duty off-season conditioning and strenghth drills, so any questions about his “being in shape” really don’t even come into play here.
My guess is that Hargrove wants to prevent the possibility of Guillen’s body — i.e. his knees or back — wearing down as the season progresses. In other words, a little prevention now by getting him lighter might save everyone some trouble later on. We haven’t seen anything yet to suggest his conditioning is an issue. If we do later, we’ll let you know. So, take it for what it’s worth.
They began filming the team’s television spots this afternoon and the first batch of players involved were Ichiro — hmmm, guess they plan to have him around at least a little while longer — J.J. Putz, Felix Hernandez, Chris Reitsma, George Sherrill and catcher Rivera. Wonder if they’ll shoot a commerical of Ichiro charging the mound on Sherrill after another BP brushback? Somehow, given Ichiro’s mindset on that incident yesterday, I doubt the leadoff man would go for it.
No word yet on Mark Lowe’s MRI. Will keep on it.
******* UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. PST ******* Just got off the telephone with Lowe, who was just getting back from his MRI. He says they won’t have any results for him until tomorrow, so we’ll all just have to wait.
As for Clement, the x-rays on his finger came back negative, so he’s listed as day-to-day with bruising.

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