Joe Hamrahi of Talking Chop has an interview with Baseball Prospectus' sports injury guru Will Caroll today at Baseball Digest Daily. Of particular interest are some comments about Pedro Martinez' toe:
Joe Hamrahi: Speaking of pitcher injuries, are the Mets throwing up fluff around Pedro (Martinez), are they just being very cautious, or is Pedro really hurt? It's hard to get a good read on this right now.
Will Carroll: All of the above. I haven't (reviewed the Mets) yet, but it's important enough that it's worth talking about. What the Mets are doing is being exceptionally conservative with their most valuable player. If Pedro's not there, the Mets are pretty screwed. No matter how ready (Mike) Pelfrey is, they're not going to be able to (overcome) a loss of Pedro.
What the Mets are doing is being extremely, extremely conservative with Pedro's toe. Doing things externally is always preferable to doing things internally. And of course, surgery is always the last resort. Now, does the World Baseball Classic fit into this plan? Yeah, I think so. They (Mets) wanted to move this very slow and give him every reason not to pitch.
They did the shoe. They've done some gel inserts to alleviate pressure. It's going to be tough though. I think they're going to wind up giving him some cortisone injections and do a nerve block. This is something that, in the shorter term, shouldn't really be a problem. But (Pedro) has some amazingly bad hip turns. ESPN did a very good job showing his motion the other day. When he pushes, his foot almost flips over. It's not that bad, but if you saw it, it would look a bit different. But he's in good hands. Ray Ramirez (Mets head trainer) really understands him, has a good relationship with him. I've heard rumors that his former rehabilitation trainer Chris Correnti is doing some work with him. The Mets are refusing comment, but mostly because Chris is still being paid by the Red Sox. He has another year on his deal. The other thing is that Rick Peterson is phenomenal with mechanics. If you were to ask me if there was one guy out there in Major League Baseball that could handle Pedro, it would be Rick Peterson.
I don't think it's a significant problem. Are they going to have to watch him? Sure they are. Are we going to see shorter outings...5 or 6 innings at the start of the season? Absolutely, but that wasn't a bad idea with or without the toe.
JH: Was there any point when surgery was considered?
WC: There really isn't much they can do surgically. They can go in and clean things up. Essentially, it's bone on bone now. They can hit him with a nerve block, but they don't know the effect that will have on his mechanics. That would be the last resort. It's kind of difficult to pitch without using your toe. You can do it, but you'd really rather not have to do that.
Pedro's health is probably the Mets' biggest concern going into the season, though Carroll certainly seems to think that things will be fine. The Mets will baby Pedro a bit, but ultimately it looks like he'll probably be fine. Carroll also points out what we kind of already knew: that the Mets had no intention of letting Pedro pitch in the WBC, and used Pedro's injury to achieve that end.
A "nerve block", which Carroll mentioned on several occasions, is basically an injection of medication to numb a group of nerves causing pain to a particular region of the body, e.g. the toe. It sounds like an alternative to cortizone treatment.