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September 20, 2010

Under The Knife

Concussion Problem Worsens

by Will Carroll

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Jason LaRue (concussion, 10/4)

As the Reds get ready for the playoffs, LaRue is about to get ready for the rest of his life. If you follow my NFL coverage at all, you'll know how serious the concussion issue has become in the that league and for football in general. Baseball has its own problems with the issue as well, with Justin Morneau and Jason Bay out now, but news on LaRue is going to bring it to the fore again. LaRue is going to retire as a result of his severe concussion, which came about as a result of several kicks by Johnny Cueto during the early August brawl between the Cardinals and Reds. Now the longtime catcher is heading towards retirement as a result of continuing symptoms. Granted, LaRue was towards the end of his career, but there are much older (and much worse) backup catcher options out there, so we have to take this as a career-ending injury, one that prevented continuing income. I'm not sure if LaRue is even considering suing Cueto, but baseball's suspension of the Reds pitcher was ridiculous at the time and is now bordering on criminal. No excuses, if you're firing up an e-mail. Kicking someone anywhere, no matter the situation, is simply wrong. Cueto not only kicked LaRue, he kicked him repeatedly and knowingly. There's just no way to make this right. We can only hope LaRue doesn't face long-term consequences and wish him the best of luck with whatever comes next. Know what would be perhaps the best gesture? The offer of a coaching position by the Reds, the team for which he broke into the major leagues with in 1999 and spent eight seasons with.

Tyler Colvin (chest injury, TBD)

On any other day, Colvin would be the lead. "Impaled by bat shard" is as stark as it gets. It wasn't quite as bad as it initially sounded—he wasn't felled, it didn't stick out of him, he was well enough to get home on the play and score, but how close was this to tragedy? "About three inches," said a source. "Three inches down it could have been bad, but there's the rib cage. It's three inches up, into the soft, unprotected neck. If it hits the jugular, he dies right there on the field or maybe he gets saved like Clint Malarchuk. (Do NOT click that link if you're squeamish.) Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan discussed this issue and people have been questioning how to prevent this issue—and I don't know as I write this whether or not the bat was maple—for quite a while. I have no idea whether or not this will end up being the turning point for the issue, but players tend to resist any change, no matter how logical and it's not like Bud Selig has a reputation for rushing into anything. Colvin will remain hospitalized for a couple days. He has a tube in the wound to prevent any further issues. Colvin will be OK in the long term and while the Cubs will shut him down for the season as a precaution after the chest wound, it could have been a lot worse. A whole lot.

Geovany Soto (strained shoulder, 10/4)

The Cubs had more bad news on Sunday as they announced that Soto would have shoulder surgery. Soto has had on and off problems with this shoulder and is taking the time now to get it done in hopes that he won't have those problems going forward. Sources tell me the shoulder is lax and will need to be tightened and cleaned out. There's no reason to think he won't be back for spring training given the timing, but there's a longer term for getting back to 100%. Some think that Soto might need some time away from catcher to heal and first base is certainly an option. The long-term prognosis for something like this is very good, but there's not a lot of catchers that have gone through it. This adds one more question to the laundry list that the Cubs have this upcoming offseason.

Andres Torres (appendectomy, 9/27)

ESPN's Buster Olney called Torres' appendectomy the pivotal injury of the pennant chase and it's tough to disagree with him on this one. It's pretty amazing that Torres has a chance to come back from the surgery, let alone miss only a couple weeks. The advances in laproscopy don't make this painless. It's minimally invasive, not uninvasive. There's still issues of muscle being cut and soreness near the incisions. Torres is ramping up the activity and there have been some reports that he could be back for the pivotal weekend series with the Rockies. We'll have to wait and see, but there will be plenty of clues leading up to it, but the key one will be when he's able to hit and field, even lightly.


Jimmy Rollins (strained hamstring, 9/28)

Rollins took batting practice from the right side of the plateSunday, a step forward for him, almost literally. Rollins' right hamstring is the "power" or drive leg from that side and has been the real limitation. Rollins has been available as a lefty pinch-hitter in an emergency but the Phillies haven't had to use him due to roster expansion. The hope is that Rollins can test it a bit more, start up some light running this week and get back into games before the postseason. There's some concern that Rollins won't be ready by the end of the season, which would put the Phillies in a very tough situation. The roster expansion has allowed them to hide Rollins, but they're obviously a better team when he's available. It would be a big risk putting him on the playoff roster if the team isn't sure he'll be able to go. There is the replacement rule in place, but that's an extreme step. Look for any kind of movement on this over the next week.
 

Joe Mauer (inflamed knee, 9/20)

Denard Span (sprained shoulder, 9/21)

The Twins have enough of a lead that they're starting to rest guys. They might wish they'd done that sooner with Mauer, who's been playing with a number of issues since mid-summer. With his contract, you'd think that the Twins might be more concerned about this, but Mauer has put up huge numbers since Justin Morneau went down. I know that 'random endpoints' can be an issue for a lot of these, but the more people I talk to around Mauer, the more I think he consciously "stepped it up." Like clutch, I'm not sure that's a real skill or even how you could tell. Mauer left Sunday's game with a "jammed knee," which is likely just some increased inflammation and/or some decreased range of motion. The Twins will get him some rest over the next 10 days. Span needed rest after injuring his shoulder on a diving catch, but it's not so serious that he would have gone on the DL if this wasn't September.
 

Jake Arrieta (inflamed elbow/bone chips, 10/4)

The Orioles have had quite the turnaround under Buck Showalter, but before that, the thought was that this team would go as far as their young pitching took it. Actually, it kind of worked out that way, but there's certainly some hope that pitchers like Brian Matusz and Arrieta took a step forward this year. Arrieta's season ends on a bit of a down note as he heads for surgery on his elbow. It's "simple bone chips" according to the team, a surgery that should have few long-term concerns. Arrieta will have the procedure and be able to do a normal off-season's throwing program, which usually starts in January. There's really no reason to think that Arrieta will have any physical problems heading into 2011.

Carlos Guillen (arthritic knee, 10/4)

It was a bit of a surprise when it was announced that Guillen had microfracture surgery, but this article from MLB.com's Jason Beck gives a lot of details on what they did and why. Guillen's knee was a bit more damaged than they expected, but it sounds as if Dr. Michael Warren was prepared for this possibility going into it. That's why surgeons always want to "take a look," no matter how many MRIs or manual tests the player has had. Guillen will be "ready" for spring training, but it's doubtful he'll be doing full activity until late into camp. It's possible, but not probable that he would be 100% for opening day either. Remember the timetable for Grady Sizemore was built around him being ready for spring training and compare the dates. As with Sizemore, there's not much in the way of positive comps, but the procedure is getting better results over the years in other sports.

Quick Cuts:

Ron Washington thinks that Josh Hamilton will be ready for the postseason, according to FanHouse. That matches up with everything I've heard, where the hope was he would get 10 days of at-bats to test his ribs and get his swing right before the playoffs started ... A lot of people have been asking about Troy Tulowitzki's power post-wrist injury. Yes, it's unusual. Not unprecedented ... Mat Latos is visibly fatigued. The Padres have some hard decisions to make over the next week ... Mark Teixeira has a deep bruise on the body of his thumb to go with his broken toe. Look for Joe Girardi to rest him quite a bit over the next week, which could also help Jorge Posada ... Chris Young went only four innings and 69 pitches during his Saturday start, but the Pads seemed encouraged. He'll go again on normal rest ... Erick Aybar has a sports hernia. He'll be re-evaluated at mid-week, but it's likely his season is over ... Laynce Nix was activated off the DL. The Reds will watch Nix over the next two weeks to see if he'll make the post-season roster ... Coco Crisp has a broken pinky. He'll be evaluated by a specialist, but thinks he can play through it ... Riann Spanjer-Fursterburg would have to be the longest name in baseball, no? It's longer than William VanLandingham ... No Jay-Z today, but how about some Alicia?

Related Content:  Andres Torres,  Jason LaRue

41 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

JoshC77

Thinking of your comment on Latos...

Why does pitcher fatigue increase the risk of injury? Is it that fatigued muscles are more susceptible to strains and/or tears? Or is it that when you're more tired, you're more likely to have sloppier mechanics (thus leading to a greater potential for injury)?

Sep 20, 2010 04:26 AM
rating: 0
 
gweedoh565

Come on, Will, NO excuses for Cueto? The guy was backed up against a brick wall with a crowd surging on him. People do a lot of desperate things when cornered. No doubt it's incredibly unfortunate what happened to LaRue as a result, but I think it's more fair to chalk it up to a bizarre situation rather than one man's intent to harm.

Sep 20, 2010 05:39 AM
rating: 2
 
BillJohnson

Where this apologia breaks down is on the "repeatedly and knowingly" part. Will's analysis is right on, and I hope that LaRue changes his mind about a lawsuit. Cueto's action was so far out of line compared to any other basebrawl I've ever seen that a suit is justified, IMO.

Sep 20, 2010 06:25 AM
rating: 4
 
gweedoh565

My point is that when someone is in what is perceived as a life-threatening situation, any sense of "knowlingly" doing anything goes out the window in favor of survival instincts.

As someone who deals with panic attacks, I know that when one feels threatened, your mind/body can react in a way that completely defies logic/decorum. That said, I obviously don't know what was going on in Cueto's mind at the time, but his drastic actions certainly suggest he wasn't acting with a clear head.

Sep 20, 2010 07:14 AM
rating: 4
 
BrianGunn
(439)

I appreciate the comment, Gweedoh, but it does not accurately reflect what happened during that fight. Cueto ran behind Chris Carpenter, trying to throw punches at him, then got backed into a brick wall by his own teammates. No one was trying to hurt him, and yet he kicked Carpenter in the back, kicked LaRue multiple times in the face, then grabbed LaRue in the throat after he was supposedly in a helpless position. You say that you think it's more fair to chalk up Cueto's actions to a bizarre situation rather than one man's intent to harm, but unfortunately the video and photographic evidence depict the exact opposite.

Sep 20, 2010 08:03 AM
rating: 4
 
thegeneral13

It was dirty, but criminal? No more so than punching someone or hitting them in the head with a baseball on purpose. If I'm not outraged that there's a fight in the first place, how can I be outraged when someone actually succeeds in injuring someone else? That's the entire point.

Sep 20, 2010 11:17 AM
rating: -1
 
BrianGunn
(439)

I've never claimed it was criminal. I think the point was actually HOW La Rue was injured, not whether Cueto was successful in injuring him. For example, I'd be no more heartened than if someone hit someone in the head on purpose with a baseball.

Sep 20, 2010 11:29 AM
rating: 0
 
thegeneral13

You're right, you didn't claim it was criminal - didn't mean to attribute that to you. My comment, filed as a reply to yours, was sort of a hybrid reply to your comment (acknowledging that Cueto wasn't exactly backed into a corner), BillJohnson's comment above, and Will's post. Point being, I find the vitriol against Cueto comedic - he fought dirty, but he fought, which is (duh) what happens in a fight. Sometimes people get hurt. That he might have caused a "career-ending" injury is driven in large part by the circumstances.

Sep 20, 2010 11:38 AM
rating: 0
 
BrianGunn
(439)

Thanks for clarifying, thegeneral. I suppose we'll just have to agree to disagree. Kicking with spikes is not "(duh) what happens in a fight" -- I've seen several dozen brawls in my day, and that's only the third time I've seen someone do that (Izzy Alcantara and Chan Ho Park were the others). I mean, I guess I don't feel any vitriol for Cueto, but I find the attempts to exonerate him (not by you, but others on this thread) pretty convoluted.

That said, I totally agree with you about the "career-ending injury" part -- that cannot be blamed on Cueto. There are just too many other extenuating circumstances in La Rue's case (for example, if he really was one concussion away from retiring, he should've stayed on the bench).

Sep 20, 2010 13:35 PM
rating: 1
 
gweedoh565

And I should clarify as well- I certainly am not attempting to exonerate Cueto- I don't think the fine/suspension was undeserved at all. I just think Will was being a overly harsh in calling it "criminal" and looking at in a completely black-and-white manner ("There's just no way to make this right").

Sep 20, 2010 14:20 PM
rating: 1
 
BrianGunn
(439)

I totally buy that.

Sep 20, 2010 14:23 PM
rating: 1
 
10graham43

Seriously, this post is marked as inappropriate? Why, because Will disagrees with it? Please. It is incredibly unfortunate that Jason LaRue was injured. But, it WAS more of a bizarre situation rather than one man's intent to harm.

Sep 20, 2010 08:03 AM
rating: 0
 
dianagram

Please clarify ... are you suggesting that Will himself marked it as inappropriate?

Sep 20, 2010 09:30 AM
rating: 0
 
dianagram

Ah ... now someone has "negged" my request for clarification ... how quaint.

Look ... I highly highly doubt BP writers go around downgrading comments. I don't even know if their accounts allow for that. They would instead type a "reply".

Can someone on the BP staff please respond to this ... can you guys actually downgrade a comment just like a "regular" reader?

Sep 20, 2010 09:59 AM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess

They can give positives. I know that much.

Sep 20, 2010 11:00 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt Kory

Is Will even on the BP staff?

Sep 20, 2010 12:04 PM
rating: 6
 
dalbano

Would we be talking about it the same if LaRue's concussion was caused by punches rather than kicks?

Probably not. A brawl is a brawl though, whether it is on a field or in an alley. If you feel threatened, you are going to protect yourself with punches, kicks, whatever. It shouldn't matter that he was kicked.

Sep 20, 2010 08:38 AM
rating: 1
 
BrianGunn
(439)

They certainly seem different to me -- striking someone with a fist seems far more benign than striking someone with a spiked shoe. But maybe that's just me. Any lawyers out there -- what does the law say?

Sep 20, 2010 08:59 AM
rating: 0
 
deberly

As a lawyer, I would never, ever, take LaRue's "case." Both he and Cueto were involved in an on-field fight. People get hurt in fights. There may be are unwritten baseball "rules" about what one should or should not do in a fight on a baseball field. That is why Selig is allowed to punish for behavior, which he did. But those rules don't exist in a court of law.

Sep 20, 2010 11:24 AM
rating: 6
 
dalbano

There's a resonable expectation for injury when you leave your dugout to run onto the field for a fight.

If you run with the bulls, you should reasonably expect that you very well may get run down or worse.

That a concussion doesn't happen more often during instances where 50+ people are involved in pushing, punching, kicking, etc...is absolutely astounding.

Sep 20, 2010 11:51 AM
rating: 1
 
BrianGunn
(439)

That makes sense, dalbano, but there is not a reasonable expectation of getting spiked in the face. That hasn't been an accepted practice in bench-clearing brawls since, what, 1910 or so?

And I agree with you, deberly, I certainly would not take on LaRue's case were he to sue Cueto (which he plans not to do). I'm just curious if the law makes distinctions between striking someone with fists or spikes, given dalbano's assertion that the distinction is irrelevant.

Sep 20, 2010 12:59 PM
rating: 1
 
amazin_mess
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I think it's ironic that the Reds called the Cards "a bunch of whiny bitches" and then Cueto fought like a little bitch.

Sep 20, 2010 06:23 AM
rating: -19
 
Matt Kory

You've obviously mistaken BP for ESPN.

Sep 20, 2010 12:06 PM
rating: 2
 
amazin_mess
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

It's true. You can neg it all day and it's still true.

Sep 20, 2010 13:54 PM
rating: -7
 
escapingNihilism

it's been reported all over the place that Johan Santana's surgery was non-arthroscopic and he could hence miss the entire 2011 season. do you have any word?

Sep 20, 2010 07:57 AM
rating: 0
 
Richie

What's "extreme" about the "replacement rule"?

Sep 20, 2010 08:45 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

Not the rule, but that the Phillies might have to play the NLDS without Rollins on the roster. That's extremely bad.

Sep 20, 2010 18:10 PM
 
amazin_mess

That NLDS will be over in 3 games anyway, regardless of the opponent.

Sep 20, 2010 18:27 PM
rating: -1
 
Tuck
(667)

Adrian Beltre said it was the worst he's ever injured his wrist. Francona said he'll be in the lineup tonight. Safe to assume some short-term issues?

Sep 20, 2010 09:05 AM
rating: 0
 
SGreenwell

According to WEEI's sports flashes throughout the day, the MRI was negative, and I think they just said he needed to rest it.

Sep 20, 2010 12:59 PM
rating: 0
 
brokeslowly

Has MLB ever published the results of their study on the broken bat issue? I don't mean a one or two line synopsis of the findings; I mean the methodolology, the data received and the statistical significance of such. I seem to recall that they arrived at the conclusion that maple bats are not the problem, or that "more study is needed" - it would be nice to see how they arrived at this conclusion. As I life-long baseball fan now in his 50's, I never saw bats break in the "large, sharp projectile flying long distances in unpredictable directions" fashion that they have in the last 5 years or so. I also never heard of maple bats before 5 years ago or so. You can easily derive my conclusion on the issue.

Sep 20, 2010 09:11 AM
rating: 0
 
HeavyHitter

Steve Yeager.

Sep 20, 2010 15:31 PM
rating: 0
 
drmagoo

Will - two things: 1) I read that it was indeed a maple bat (http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/news/story?id=5592592), so hopefully that will provide ammunition to the "they're dangerous" argument, and 2) Do we know enough about Castillo to consider whether the Cubs could put Soto at 1st and start Castillo behind the plate and address the 1B question?

Sep 20, 2010 09:26 AM
rating: 0
 
dalbano

MLB will not outlaw maple bats as they are a part of the CBA. Even if they were to outlaw it in the future, they would have to come up with a 2nd or 3rd replacement as Ash is said to be too sparce a commodity in the US as to meet the demand of professional wood bats. Birch perhaps, anything else??? Japanese Bamboo is considered a composite which is also not allowed.

Sep 20, 2010 14:09 PM
rating: 0
 
drmagoo

Well, Bud Selig could do something useful and begin negotiating with the MLBPA to do something about it. There have to be solutions that aren't this dangerous. Maybe start an Arbor Day campaign focused on growing more Ash trees? ;)

Sep 22, 2010 09:21 AM
rating: 0
 
Luke in MN

Helmets. Any idea what the new helmets would do to the concussion rate? Are they twice as good? More or less?

Sep 20, 2010 10:25 AM
rating: 0
 
Richie

The CBA can be amended/ignored in a heartbeat if both parties say "let's". Given that Marvin Millerism no longer rules the players' union ("the owners are E-V-I-L!!! so don't do anything they want without negotiating 1,000 hours on it first"; and, actually, I am a Marvin Miller fan), I would think prohibiting maple bats could be done very quickly.

Sep 20, 2010 15:05 PM
rating: 0
 
GFUPhil

MLB should adopt a minimum circumference rule for bats. I think this was Bill James' idea. James' pointed out that a minimum circumference rule would decrease home runs, but it would probably increase triples. Nothing wrong with that, since triples are often more exciting that bombs anyway. More importantly, a minimum circumference rule would greatly reduce broken bats. This would speed up games (a little). And it would make games safer. As it is, most of us can expect to see a player or fan killed on live TV. Since this result is fairly easy to predict, MLB ought to take serious action to prevent it.

Sep 20, 2010 19:04 PM
rating: 2
 
Richie

Actually, Will does call using the 'replacement rule' on Rollins an "extreme" step. I thought it was just that, any guy on your 40-man roster starts 'hurt' coughcoughcough, you can replace him even with a guy not on the 40-man roster. And that if a guy gets or proves (e.g., Rollins) hurt, you can then replace him for the next series while granted he's then gone for the whole playoffs.

What do I have wrong or missing here? If I gots it right, what is extreme re Rollins and the above?

Sep 20, 2010 19:19 PM
rating: 0
 
Richie

And if that 'BP staff' designation means you're officially back, Joe, officially welcome back. :-)

Sep 20, 2010 19:21 PM
rating: 0
 
eeyore
(885)

It's pretty amazing that Torres has a chance to come back from the surgery, let alone miss only a couple weeks.

Jonathan Ericsson of the Detroit Red Wings played in the Stanley Cup finals two days after an appendectomy. That's what is really mind-blowing.

Sep 20, 2010 23:26 PM
rating: 2
 
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