Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A New Hope

Good morning Fackers. Please forgive the fact that the Star Wars dork in me is making an appearance this morning. Last night was a good one for the Yanks. Minutes after they topped the best pitcher in the league, the Yanks caught a break down in St. Petersburg, as an eighth inning leadoff home run from Evan Longoria knotted the Rays and Sawx at two. Despite chances for both teams in the intervening innings, the score remained the same until the Rays ended it in the 13th, using another longball from Mrs. Tony Parker.

The Yankee win coupled with the Sox loss puts the Yanks up 1.5 games in the AL East, ensuring that no matter what happens tonight the Yanks will be in first place on Thursday when the Evil Empire and whatever the Red Sox call themselves commence Episode IV of their 2009 series. But we've seen this before, so I'm going to temper my enthusiasm on this one.

Besides, it isn't those events in St. Petersburg last night that give me hope this morning. Rather, it's what happened hours earlier across Tampa Bay, as Ian Kennedy threw from a half mound at the Yankees minor league complex.

Kennedy was pitching well at AAA Scranton (1.59 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 25:7 K:BB) when numbness in his fingers forced him from his April 27th start. Initially diagnosed as a vasospasm, it was soon discovered to be something far more serious: an aneurysm. He underwent surgery on May 12th, performed by Dr. George Todd, the same surgeon who performed David Cone's 1996 procedure. Kennedy has been rehabbing since late June, but to the best of my knowledge yesterday marks the first time he's thrown. He's slated for another session Friday.

This is of course good news, as Sergio Mitre is currently the Yankees 5th starter and will take the mound in Toronto tonight. Don't get me wrong, it's an extreme longshot. But, Kennedy said he hopes to pitch in a minor league game this season before moving on to the Puerto Rican Winter League. The minor league seasons wrap at the end of this month, so there's a chance, however slim that IPK could get a September call up. Mike Axisa at RAB had a similar thought yesterday.

As a point of reference, Cone had his surgery on May 11th, thirteen years and one day before Kennedy's, and returned to a Major League mound on September 2nd, throwing seven no hit innings before pitch count restrictions forced him from the hill.

I don't know how the specifics of Kennedy's case compare to Cone's, but Cone's recovery seems to indicate that Kennedy could be back this year. The only questions are what damage does Sergio Mitre do in the meantime or what moves do the Yanks make to get him off the hill and make a Kennedy return unnecessary.

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