August 12, 2008
Under The Knife
A Failure to Communicate?
Evan Longoria (21 DXL)
While we don't yet know which bone was broken, the usual mechanics of being hit on the wrist tend to cause breaks in the hamate or lunate bones. The effect is the same for both: painful articulation in any of the several planes, possible nerve or ligament damage with displacement, and weakness in the distal joints. Since we know that Longoria has a non-displaced fracture, we can ignore that and deal with the first and last symptoms here. Pain and swelling are present, although Longoria's pronouncements seem to indicate that he may already be past the acute stage.
According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times this isn't the case at all, and Longoria's fracture is actually at the distal tip of the ulna. What we have here is a failure to communicate; a nomenclature problem. The specific small bones that make up the anatomical wrist are one thing, but we also reference a general area which includes the distal tips of the radius (lateral) and ulna (medial) bones of the forearm. The ulna, much larger than the smaller bones of the wrist, should heal more quickly and fully, and there's little ligament involvement, suggesting that any resulting weakness in the wrist could be reduced, though still present. The differing opinions on the films also indicate that the fracture may already be making union; one doctor indicated that it may have been an old fracture, and according to radiologists I spoke with today it would be difficult to differentiate from a fresh union. This information on the location of the fracture is the most positive news I've heard for the Rays in days.
Even when he's able to come back, wrist injuries tend to linger, sapping some power and bat control. The drop-off in run production from Longoria to Willy Aybar or Ben Zobrist is pretty steep, so getting Longoria back once he's past the danger of a re-break is the smart play, and as one source told me, the Rays realize that while they may not be able to replace Longoria with equivalent offense, "a run saved is like a run earned." Ben Franklin meets Pythagenpat? Perhaps they're looking ahead to when David Price joins the pitching staff, or some improved defense. With rumblings of a waiver-wire deal, the Rays have to hope that when Longoria returns in mid-September he'll look more like the RotY candidate he's been all year than post-injury David Ortiz. (Yes, it's a bit odd to use Big Papi as the downside comparison, but he has a 694 OPS since returning from the DL.)
Chris Carpenter (7 DXL)
C.J. Wilson (60 DXL)
Rick Ankiel (0 DXL)
Freddy Sanchez (5 DXL)
Quick Cuts: David Ortiz is out of the lineup for the Sox. I'm told his wrist is still an issue, but that he's having dificulty "mentally much more than physically." ... Travis Hafner could take batting practice later this week, leaving the door open for a September cameo. ... Ryan Braun remains out, but the Brewers remain calm about his injury. ... Scott Olsen should make his next start, though his ankle could still be an issue. ... Jose Contreras had successful surgery to repair the Achilles rupture and should be back, if he chooses, around next year's All-Star break. ... Is Gary Sheffield trying to talk his way out of Detroit? It worked for Manny Ramirez, and there are several teams that would like to claim him when he hits waivers. ... Andruw Jones could be back on the DL with further knee problems. ... The 7'1" Loek Van Mil is headed for Tommy John surgery after injuring himself at the Olympics. ... I was at a sporting goods superstore yesterday looking at new shoes, and when I walked through the baseball section, I saw a product designed to protect the hand, a kind of gel cover. They also had the "Derek Jeter Fielding Trainer."