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April 18, 2011
One Step Forward, Several Steps back
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)
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 elbow—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)
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)
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)
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.