You’ve all seen him. That perennial All-Star, trapped in the dugout as his team falters and stumbles without him. His face is grim; his mood intense. The bat boy taps him on the shoulder to inform a batting glove fell out of his pocket. His vicious snarl of a response traumatizes the lad so completely that he retires from baseball and speaking to people forever.
He is the wounded star player, marked by the deep red of his windbreaker, noticeable amongst his teammates in the normal gray or red pinstripes. Ryan Howard has been living this way all season. Chase has refused, choosing instead to take 14 hours a day of the closest thing to BP his handlers will allow, before retiring to the Bacta Tank for the rest of the day.
And now, we will see Cliff wearing the Windbreaker of Shame. Not that he deserves to be shamed. But knowing Cliff, which I do not, he probably feels ashamed that he allowed his body to fail him, even in such a minuscule fashion. His strained left oblique has been deemed serious enough for a 15-day trip to the disabled list, in a move that subtracts not only one of our best pitchers, but being a pitching-only team, one of our only players.
Ruben Amaro spoke to press yesterday, coating his every response in a thin layer of manufactured confidence. He was sure not to sound too hopeful, but most of his efforts went into remaining cautious. That’s all this is. Caution. Cliff apparently felt the strain in the 10th inning of his ten inning masterpiece against the Giants, in which the offense somehow failed him, go figure, proving once and for all that the amount of pitches a guy throws in a night is the best measurement of his bodily health.
Kyle Kendrick will get some starts for the time being, which was inevitable, as are the completely unfair expectations and insults that will be thrown at him. People are quick to comment that Kyle has been far more stellar than he is given credit for, but what those people need to remember is that we’re not despairing over Kyle Kendrick as a pitcher. We’re despairing over Kyle Kendrick as a person. It’s totally different, and makes way more sense [EDITOR'S NOTE: How do you not delete these kinds of statements when you're proofreading?].
So, while KK is being pretend-Cliff for two weeks, real-Cliff will be sitting to the side in his windbreaker, answering questions from the press and shortening his expecting return date by the hour. Already, he is claiming he won’t miss more than two starts, explaining that he and the Phillies had a nice sit-down chat in a crowded restaurant so he couldn’t make a scene. They told him they wanted to use caution and put him on the DL, to which he did not argue. But seeing the ease with which he talked himself into a 10th inning of work in his last start, all it takes is one look into those laid back eyes and one shrug of those casual shoulders to have everybody seeing things Cliff’s way.
The good news is, there are still two aces in this rotation. The bad news is, there used to be three. And with our strong point now the target of vengeful injury demons, there has been a shadow cast over the early season. And that shadow belongs to Kyle Kendrick.
Take it away, Kyle!