February 27, 2012
Spring Training Injury Roundup: It's What's for Dinner
Spring training has only just begun, but we already have news aplenty to digest. Let’s go right to the infirmary report:
Ryan Howard, PHI (Left Achilles Surgery)
Howard’s recovery from surgery on his torn left achilles tendon has been a rollercoaster ride. He was spotted taking grounders from a stationary position as well as running late last week, but with a limp. Subsequently, it was revealed that one of the stitches had a seroma forming around it. While this sounds ominous, a seroma is merely a pocket of fluid very similar to a cyst. This far out from surgery, the stitches involved are not the ones that you see on the skin’s surface, but rather a buried stitch used to close tissues deeper under the skin; the cyst developed become the body views it as a foreign invader. The body begins to “spit the stitch,” attempting to push it out of the body. This is not at all uncommon following surgery, particularly plastic surgery or mastectomies, and is different from an abscess in that it is not infected. They can be drained, but anytime you introduce a needle into the skin there is a chance infection will set in.
Howard is already in the batting cage and performing well. Even though the seroma qualifies as a setback, it is not much of one unless it becomes infected. For those asking about his limp, it is the result of being immobilized for a few months after surgery; his normal range of motion will come back over time.
Stephen Drew, ARI (Right Ankle Surgery)
Drew is recovering from major surgery to repair a fractured fibula and torn ligaments. With such a severe injury, there was a risk that Drew could have missed a good portion of 2012. Instead, Drew appears to be progressing well. On Friday, he was able to hit on the field and also took grounders on three occasions last week. He still must be able to field grounders daily as well as slide. There is no definitive timeline for Drew’s return, but it is certainly possible that he will be ready for the start of the regular season. GM Kevin Towers believes.
Andrew Bailey, BOS (Latissimus Dorsi Strain)
Stolmy Pimentel, BOS (Right Latissimus Dorsi Strain)
If the first few weeks of camp are any indication of how the season will go for the Red Sox, it is going to be a very long season for the training staff. Bailey suffered a mild lat strain performing vertical leap drills, yet reportedly will still throw on Monday. If he does not throw, the Red Sox still have time to get him healthy before the season. The good news is that simply performing vertical drills usually does not cause a significant strain of the lat.
Pimentel also suffered a lat strain earlier in camp and has been receiving treatment ever since. Pimentel does not feel that it is a serious strain and should return within a few more days. This early in camp, teams are going to be more cautious than they normally would If Pimentel does not start throwing again in the next few days, then we might have to worry a little more, but for now the strain seems a minor issue.
Scott Sizemore, OAK (Left Knee Sprain)
Sizemore’s injury does not sound like a minor issue. He was injured during fielding workouts on Saturday and, rather ominously, his teammates heard a “pop” from his knee before he collapsed. Sizemore now awaits a more detailed MRI to rule out injuries ranging from cartilage damage to an ACL tear. Almost any MRI can pick up injuries to the major ligaments, such as the ACL, so a more detailed MRI is most likely being used to take a better look at the cartilage in addition to the ligaments. Josh Donaldson has been told to put away his catching gear for now, possibly in anticipation of Sizemore being lost for an extended length of time. The picture will get a lot clearer once all the MRI results come back.
Grady Sizemore, CLE (Low Back Strain)
It was a bad week to be a baseball-playing guy named Sizemore. As if recovering from knee and sports-hernia surgeries were not enough, Sizemore now has to contend with a significant strain of the lower back that is likely going to keep him out of the Opening Day lineup. Fielding ground balls in the outfield is usually not dangerous, but that’s how Sizemore was hurt. Sizemore has hinted that he won’t be back until at least a few weeks after Opening Day, but it may be even longer.
Jack Wilson, ATL (Right Calf Strain)
Wilson was another player hurt immediately before spring training began. Wilson strained his right calf while working out in the days before camp opened and is expected to miss at least four to six weeks. This would put him on schedule to rise from his sickbed right around Opening Day, but that seems to be a best-case scenario. Wilson, now 34 years old, has missed at least 18 days each year since 2008 because of various injuries.
Joel Zumaya, MIN (Torn UCL elbow)
Zumaya is most likely going to be moving up the DL Kings list after tearing the UCL in his right elbow over the weekend. He had signed a one-year deal with Minnesota after coming back from an elbow surgery needed to replace a screw from an earlier operation. On Saturday, he had to cut his throwing session short after experiencing elbow pain. Significant tears usually end up in Tommy John surgery, a specter that Zumaya really does not want to face given all of his troubles with his elbow in recent years.
Several players have already been placed on the 60-day disabled list as they recover from surgeries, including John Lackey (Tommy John surgery), Bobby Jenks (back surgery), Pedro Feliciano (September 2011 rotator cuff surgery), and Rubby De La Rosa (Tommy John surgery)… Chris Perez strained his oblique and is estimated to be out four to six weeks. Manuel Pina tore cartilage in his right knee and is scheduled to undergo surgery this week. Tommy Hanson has started to progress back from the concussion received in a car accident… Cliff Lee felt abdominal soreness late last week, but threw a 40-pitch bullpen session without any difficulties. Ryan Vogelsong strained his back performing squats earlier in February, but has made progress recently and appears to be on schedule to throw off a mound next week. Joe Beimel will stay away from throwing for a few days to rest his sore left elbow; this is something to keep an eye on given his multiple issues with the elbow and forearm last season... Geovany Soto’s groin strain is being treated cautiously, as the Cubs do not want it to become a long time issue.
Finally, some are making their way back from significant injuries from last year. Justin Morneau (concussion) is doing well but still needs to be cleared per the new concussion protocol enacted last year. Johan Santana (shoulder capsule surgery) is tentatively scheduled to start on March 6th. Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery) is taking all necessary steps to be ready for Opening Day, and Placido Polanco (sports hernia surgery) is currently healthy with no limitations.
Corey Dawkins is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
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