NASA Helps Chad Tracy Recover

The Diamondbacks ordered a NASA-developed treadmill to help Chad Tracy prepare himself for opening day, as he has begun running for the first time in over five months. ALSO: Juan Cruz has finally made it to camp, but Tony Pena remains delayed.


The Diamondbacks have ordered an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill in an attempt to expedite Chad Tracy's recovery from offseason micro-fracture surgery on his right knee, although they fear Tracy will not be ready for the start of the regular season.

The Phoenix Suns used the same treadmill to help forward Amare Stoudemire recover from his micro-fracture surgery on Oct. 18, 2005.

Stoudemire returned to the Suns for a game on March 27, 2006, but after that game, he was shut down for the rest of the season because of knee stiffness. Tracy's procedure occured Sept. 20, at which time the Diamondbacks expected a five-to-eight month recovery period.

Tracy was cleared to begin light running Feb. 24, but he was limited to about four long strides to conclude an agility drill that morning. He later took batting practice.

"I know now I'll be ramping up the intensity every time out. I haven't pushed it really hard, but I feel good. No pain," said Tracy, adding he will step up his program when the treadmill arrives Feb. 26.

The Alter-G treadmill uses a zippered pouch to regulate air pressure below the waist, enabling an athlete to lessen the pounding on his joints while still maintaining a high cardiovascular rate.

The technology was originally developed at NASA and was designed to combat weightlessness, so astronauts could maintain fitness on long flights.


--OF Trot Nixon signed a minor league contract that would be worth the major league minimum $385,000 if he makes the team out of spring training. The package could be worth about $750,000 based on the number of days he spends in the majors. If he makes the team, he also agreed to accept a minor league assignment if he clears waivers later in the season. He was told he primarily would be a left-handed insurance bat for 1B/3B Chad Tracy (knee) if Tracy is delayed out of spring training.

--LHP Randy Johnson threw three bullpen sessions over the first nine days of spring training and is tentatively scheduled to face hitters Feb. 28 in a batting practice setting. The Diamondbacks' other pitchers have faced hitters twice already. Johnson threw 26 pitches in his most recent session Feb. 24, and his schedule remains flexible, depending on how his back recovers after each outing. "He's going in the right direction; He has had no setbacks," manager Bob Melvin said.

--RHP Juan Cruz was five days late to spring training because of a court date in his native Dominican Republic. The government made an eminent domain claim on a piece of his property to expand a roadway, which meant a garage on his property had to be torn down. The government, after first saying it had no liability, agreed in court to split the cost of rebuilding the garage on another spot. Cruz's father, Rafael, also won a judgment after the construction caused his church to be torn down.

--RHP Tony Pena missed the first nine days of spring training because of visa issues, and the Diamondbacks were in the dark as to his expected arrival date. Pena is working out under the watchful eyes of Junior Noboa and minor league pitching coach Wellington Cepeda at the Diamondbacks' complex in the Dominican Republic, but the Diamondbacks were hoping he would arrive by the start of exhibition games Feb. 28.

--C Miguel Montero has not participated in batting practice or catchers' throwing drills early in spring while he heals from a fractured right index finger suffered in Venezuelan winter ball. The Diamondbacks are exercising caution, but expect him to have no problems getting ready for the regular season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 259 -- At bats RF Justin Upton had above Class A before having his contract purchased by the Diamondbacks on Aug. 2. Upton is the unchallenged starter in right field this spring.

"I still have to work to try to make the ballclub, but the biggest thing for me is that I have a job and have a chance to be in spring training. A lot of things can happen that way." -- OF Trot Nixon, who signed a minor league contract Feb. 22 as an insurance policy against the health of 1B/3B Chad Tracy (knee).

Want to write for  FutureBacks is now opening internships for the upcoming 2008 season.  If you live near one of the six Diamondbacks minor league affiliates, know baseball, and have a writing background, send your resume and two sample pieces of writing (at least one of which must be a journalistic piece about baseball) to   Applicants must be able to attend a minimum of three games per homestand, and students looking for course credit must get approval from their instructors. Recommended Stories

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