CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Premium and Super Premium Subscribers Get a 20% Discount at MLB.tv!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Divide and Conquer, NL... (04/18)
<< Previous Column
Collateral Damage: Mau... (04/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Collateral Damage: The... (04/19)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (04/18)

April 18, 2011

Collateral Damage

One Step Forward, Several Steps back

by Corey Dawkins and Marc Normandin

It’s not often we get a chance to write happy news in this space, but seeing Grady Sizemore return from a layoff that seemed even longer than it actually was is one of those rare times. Sadly, one successful comeback didn't slow the torrent of new injuries, but at least nothing on today’s docket can match Sizemore’s absence in terms of recovery time and days lost.

Barry Zito, SFN (Right mid-foot sprain)
Zito suffered a mid-foot sprain on Saturday after diving to field a bunt from Joe Saunders, and he was lifted from the game shortly afterward. This marks the first time that Zito has been on the disabled list in his 12-year major league career, and it's an injury that is likely going to cost him more than 15 games. As a result, this may also be the first full season in which Zito will make fewer than 30 starts.

Sprains of the midfoot can strike in sports like football when someone lands on the back of a player’s foot, or in less contact-prone endeavors when a player plants his foot and significantly twists his body. No 49ers linemen have pig piled on top of Zito lately, so we can safely say this has more to do with twisting.

The foot is a complex part of the body, with 26 different bones and 33 different joints, and that’s before we get to the many different muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood supplies. The foot is basically split into three zones called the forefoot–closer to the toes–the aptly named midfoot, and the rearfoot, found closer to the heel. The midfoot is made up of five bones (the three cuneiforms, the cuboid, and the navicular) along with many strong ligaments that connect the midfoot to both the forefoot and the rearfoot.

When these ligaments are injured, they swell and produce pain like any other ligament injury. In the case of a mild sprain, often there is minimal swelling and the athlete is able to continue walking without crutches (but may need a walking boot to take some pressure off). In the case of more severe injuries–and according to reports, Zito’s qualifies–the ligament swells dramatically and can be extremely painful even while trying to stand in one place, let alone walk or run. The location of the swelling and the ligament involved are important. Certain areas in the midfoot are more likely to require surgery when the ligament is significantly compromised, but it is not an absolute.

While the Giants have announced that the MRI revealed a sprained midfoot, they did not announce which ligament was sprained (nor did we expect them to). It did reportedly swell up on him significantly, raising concerns for a more severe injury that may end up requiring surgery.

Mitch Talbot, CLE (Sprained right elbowUCL)
Talbot was placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow after a start a week ago, and he is expected to miss approximately three weeks as a result. What is more concerning is the cause of the inflammation, heard straight from Talbot’s mouth: a sprain of the UCL.

While we can't always trust an athlete's description of injury specifics, Talbot does have a rather detailed knowledge of his elbow. He partially tore his UCL in 2009, and he missed about three months between starts at Triple-A, so this isn’t new territory for him.

To us, this sounds eerily similar to the Adam Wainwright situation, and we all saw how that turned out. At this moment, while we can't predict when his elbow will raise the proverbial white flag (or snap while trying to raise it), we can caution everyone that the elbow is currently suffering from instability.

Phil Hughes, NYA (Dead right arm)
When you see the phrase “dead right arm,” a very different image comes to mind than what the situation actually entails. Hughes was placed on the disabled list for his dead arm after dealing with yet another drop to his velocity prior to word of an injury coming out. The dead arm (or velocity loss, even) by itself isn't concerning. What is, however, is the admission of fatigue near the end of last year, and the fact that according to scouts, Hughes' velocity has been down practically the entire spring—this despite having the offseason to recuperate from his admitted 2010 fatigue.

Many pitchers go through dead arm periods and have nothing more serious than fatigue, but none of those hurlers has a dead arm for six months or more. With no definitive timetable for a return, Girardi has to hope that one of the veteran hurlers brought in this winter or spring—or one of the organization's young arms—can fill Hughes’ shoes.

Peter Moylan, ATL (Low back strain)
Hong-Chih Kuo, LAN (Low back strain)
Roy Oswalt, PHI (Mid-Back spasms)
Alex Rodriguez, NYA (Back/Oblique)
We never received word that this was the weekend to injure your back, but apparently all the cool kids were doing it. Moylan and Kuo were both placed on the disabled list with lower back strains, while Oswalt is expected to make his next start despite spasms of his midback. Rodriguez suffered oblique and back stiffness during Saturday's game, but there has been no indication out of New York that he'll require a move to the disabled list to recover.

Pitchers obviously stress their backs throughout their entire motion, but in particular while bending their bodies after releasing the pitch. Hitters stress their backs just as often, but the stress tends to be in more of a rotational plane than a flexion plane. It's a little too early to tell on the exact dates when Kuo and Moylan will return, but the Yankees had better hope that Rodriguez can return before Eric Chavez fills his healthy days quota for the season.

Grady Sizemore, CLE (Left knee surgery)
Sizemore, missing the attention lavished upon him by Grady’s Ladies back in the day, swatted a home run and a double in his return from the disabled list on Sunday. It took him approximately 11 months to return, but it appears that his knee is holding up well following microfracture surgery.

Microfracture surgery still isn't 100 percent effective in returning an athlete to play–no surgery is an absolute guarantee, despite what anyone says–and we will have to wait and see if his knee holds up to the rigors of the season before concluding that his surgery was completely successful. Fantasy owners, snap Sizemore up before everyone else notices he is back on the field, in case he is back completely.

Flesh Wounds: Todd Coffey was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf, retroactive to April 9… Hey, Mets fans: you now know how Padres fans have felt the past few years. Chris Young has hit the 15-day DL with right biceps tendinitis... Aaron Heilman has right shoulder tendinitis and is on the disabled list, but with his short injury history, there is little need to worry too much… Colin Curtis will undergo surgery on his right shoulder, which was dislocated in the spring. The length of his rehab will depend on what his surgeon finds once he goes in there… Dallas Braden said that he has never felt an issue like this in his shoulder before—he will likely have to miss his next start. Consider this notice that we expect a DL trip to follow.

Corey Dawkins is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Corey's other articles. You can contact Corey by clicking here

Related Content:  Back,  Sprain,  Surgery,  Elbow Stiffness

5 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Divide and Conquer, NL... (04/18)
<< Previous Column
Collateral Damage: Mau... (04/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Collateral Damage: The... (04/19)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run... (04/18)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of July 25-27
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Monday, July 28
Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: Francisco Liriano
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Bochy and Peavy, Back ...
This is Not Your Father's Baseball Road Trip...
Premium Article The HOF Rule Change
Premium Article Monday Morning Ten Pack: July 28, 2014

MORE FROM APRIL 18, 2011
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Sunday Night Special
Premium Article Divide and Conquer, NL Central: Breaking Bar...
Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: Cleveland Rocks
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Value Picks at First, Third an...
Premium Article On the Beat: Britton's Got Talent
Prospectus Q&A: YOU Make the Call! Part V
The Week in Quotes: April 11-17

MORE BY COREY DAWKINS
2011-04-20 - Premium Article Collateral Damage: Fools Rush In
2011-04-20 - Premium Article Collateral Damage: Fools Rush In
2011-04-19 - Premium Article Collateral Damage: The Concussion Discussion
2011-04-18 - Collateral Damage: One Step Forward, Several...
2011-04-15 - Collateral Damage: Mauer Outage
2011-04-13 - Premium Article Collateral Damage: Hamilton's Poor Sense of ...
2011-04-11 - Premium Article Collateral Damage: More on the Core
More...

MORE COLLATERAL DAMAGE
2011-04-21 - Premium Article Collateral Damage: The Concussion Discussion...
2011-04-20 - Premium Article Collateral Damage: Fools Rush In
2011-04-19 - Premium Article Collateral Damage: The Concussion Discussion
2011-04-18 - Collateral Damage: One Step Forward, Several...
2011-04-15 - Collateral Damage: Mauer Outage
2011-04-13 - Premium Article Collateral Damage: Hamilton's Poor Sense of ...
2011-04-11 - Premium Article Collateral Damage: More on the Core
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2011-05-16 - Collateral Damage: Not As Seen on TV
2011-04-26 - Premium Article Divide and Conquer, NL West: At Least We Don...
2011-04-22 - What You Missed: 4/18-4/22
2011-04-18 - Collateral Damage: DL-less Starting Pitchers