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Q&A with Sports Illustrated injury expert Will Carroll

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Will Carroll goes by the nickname "The Injury Expert." Heck, it's even his Twitter name. If you have a question about what an injury means to your team or your fantasy team, he's the guy that can answer it. One of the best things he does is take complicated topics and boil them down pretty easily.

Take for example his Team Health Reports. Of course, you can never say with 100 percent confidence what's going to happen, but simple red light, yellow light, green light system helps you decide what players are at the greatest risk for upcoming injuries and what players probably aren't. It's a good tool to use not just for the fantasy baseball fans out there, but also for fans of any particular team as well.

Carroll's Team Health Report for the Tigers and the other 29 major league teams can be found on Sports Illustrated this year.

So what's Carroll see for the Tigers? In a sentence:

This team is smartly put together and a little luck could give Motown one more thing to cheer about.

Carroll also sees good things from a health standpoint, writing that Detroit was one of the few teams with just one major "red light" player and that its head trainer Kevin Rand is quietly doing a good job. Many players are green lights, even several you probably don't expect.

Thankfully, Carroll took a few minutes out of his day to expand a bit on his views about some health issues surrounding Tigers players this season.

1. There's been some worry among fans that Miguel Cabrera's reported weight of 270 is too high. Do you agree, and could it affect Cabrera in a negative way?


There's a lot of things I'd worry about with Cabrera before his weight. Yes, it's a worry in a general sense, but big baseball players aren't often a concern until we see it actually impact their game. I remember the first time i saw Cabrera live -- Game 6, NLCS of '03. He looked like a little leaguer above the waist and a big, strong man below it. I knew he was going to grow and mature physically. Cabrera's game isn't speed or range, so that's no concern. I'd worry about the extra weight on his knees and if it slows his rotation. He's also not that athletic, which I worry about. Fielder's a huge guy, but surprisingly athletic. Same for Pujols.

2. Could you explain the procedure Joquin Benoit went through on his shoulder a few years back, and if there are any lingering injury risks


We know he had his rotator cuff repaired back in '09 and that's the last thing a pitcher wants damaged. Studies are showing that labrum tears alone aren't THAT bad (not good ...) but labrum plus cuff is deadly. There's not that many cuff tears anymore, due to Jobe's "Throwers Ten" and better management, but it's not good. He's come back well and with a couple years of health, we have to call it a success.

3. There has been some worry about Max Scherzer's mechanics, and in fact it was said the Diamondbacks may have traded him because they worried that he was a high injury risk. You write that he could establish himself as a 190-inning sort of pitcher. What's your take on the schism in those two thought processes?


We have no idea how much force Scherzer is putting on his arm and body in his mechanics. They look weird, and he had that head "nod" that's been evened out a bit, but simply put, we don't know. Felix Hernandez has "bad" looking mechanics, so is he stronger than normal or are the forces not as high as we think? Until we get biomechanical data -- data even the teams arent collecting -- we won't know and will be left with guesses.

4. I guess Carlos Guillen is the big question mark here as he rehabs from microfracture surgery. What do you see in his future this season?


I can't expect this to go well. Grady Sizemore is struggling and is much more athletic. The Tigers have done all they can to keep him healthy, and you have to admire his efforts, but I can't see him being much of a field player.

5. Other than Guillen and Zumaya, are there any players the Tigers should really be nervous about?


I'd focus on Porcello. He's very talented, but very young. He could end up being Bonderman II if they're not careful and I'd like to think that the Tigers smart guys learn from mistakes.

On reds:

6. Could you explain a bit more why Brad Penny's injury last year kept him out for the rest of the season, and what that might mean for his time in Detroit?

Penny had a lat strain that was a cascade from an oblique strain. Think of his as the much less severe version of Jake Peavy's injury. We've seen guys come back from lat strains without significant issue, so I think rest and treatment should have this particular issue in the past. Doesn't mean he won't hurt it again if there's some root cause in his delivery. With Penny, it's bound to be something.

7. Should Tigers fans be scared that Joel Zumaya's elbow has been acting up already this season?


Yes. He's got a SCREW in his pitching elbow. I mean -- a SCREW!

(3/12 addition) OK, there's more to it than that ... but not much. There's only one player that has had a significant career after having a screw in his elbow and that's Cal Eldred. Is that a success or a failure? I guess pitching at the major league level is success to most of us, but Eldred is hardly Zumaya in ... well, any way. My original answer was based on the concept of worry -- which I just don't get. Do I worry about a player with a screw in his elbow, a ton of force with every pitch, and a history of breaking down? Well, yes. Do I worry about the young pitcher with unlimited potential and trying to keep him off an operating table? Well, yes. Do I worry about an older player with a big contract and knee problems? Well, yes. I just don't worry. I watch. If I was Kevin Rand, I wouldn't be worrying, I'd be working and that's what the Tigers have done. If Zumaya -- or any player -- goes down, the world doesn't end. They shift to the backup, hit the trade market, and look to the minors for depth. That kind of organizational planning is why I think the Tigers are so good.


8. You write that "Even more unnoticed is Kevin Rand and his medical staff. They've been good for years, even taking on risks like Magglio Ordonez and fighting the ravages of pitching on young hurlers" Could you elaborate a bit on your opinion of Rand and the rest of the staff?


I could, but it would take a book. That staff is really good, but really quiet. They've never been so good in any given year that they won an award like my Dick Martin Award, but they've been consistently above average. I really like the results they get and I'm sure TIgers fans do too.

9. Your overall take on the Tigers -- both from a health standpoint and a team composition standpoint -- looks pretty positive going into this season. Could you explain why?


Good risk/reward mix, solid medical staff, and a front office that "gets it." What's not to like?