May 30, 2011
A Wing and a Prayer
Today marks Memorial Day in the United States, the occasion when we honor those brave souls who lost their lives serving our country. Do your part to honor those lost by thanking those still here. The next time you see a soldier, ask to shake their hand.
On to the injuries.
Joe Nathan, MIN (Right forearm and elbow inflammation)
Looking into the database, we see 173 players who have missed time at the major-league level due to Tommy John surgery. Within one year of returning, a little over 28 percent of the 173 players suffered some sort of injury that caused them to miss time. That figure does include all injuries, so you might think it sounds a little misleading, but almost 20 percent involved injuries to the upper extremities and torso. In fact, nine of the 173 players had another surgery on an elbow or shoulder within a year.
In light of those numbers, it's not too surprising that Nathan finds himself on the disabled list again. Inflammation such as his is very common because of the fatigue factor, but it does tend to resolve with rest and proper rehabilitation. It will likely keep him out for three to five weeks, depending on how long it takes to get the inflammation under control.
Wandy Rodriguez, HOU (Left elbow swelling)
A recent MRI revealed no major structural issues, but it must have missed something. Often there can be damage to the cartilage, which can certainly cause swelling inside the joint. Rodriguez hasn't had any major elbow injuries before, but the Astros would be smart not to push him back too early and risk causing a cascade-type injury.
Joe Beimel, PIT (Left elbow inflammation)
Beimel will undergo an MRI tomorrow, at which point we should find out more about his condition, but Gorzelanny expects to make only a short stay on the disabled list. Pena had an MRI a few weeks ago when his elbow first started acting up, and it came back showing no structural damage, so the length of his DL trip is still undetermined.
Matt Maloney, CIN (Broken rib)
Gordon Beckham, CHA (Left eye contusion)
Bronson Arroyo, CIN (Low back pain)
These injections often contain an anti-inflammatory similar to cortisone as well as pain-relieving medication, and they can make all the difference when physical therapy has failed. They can be very effective at relieving pain and inflammation in both the short- and the long-term, but they don't heal the herniation or create more space in the spinal column. What's more, they're not guaranteed to work.
Flesh Wounds: Kenley Jansen became the Dodgers' 15th visitor to the disabled list in 2011 (three more than any other team) thanks to right shoulder inflammation... Reed Johnson was placed on the disabled list with back spasms, extending his long history of back problems... John McDonald strained his right hamstring a few days ago, and he hit the DL after it failed to improve... Steven Pearce will have an MRI on his right calf on Tuesday and is expected to move to the disabled list... A few days after Buster Posey's injury, Humberto Quintero was lucky to come away with just a high ankle sprain on a similar play... Speaking of Buster Posey, Giants head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner confirmed that he will be out for the season following his recent surgery. He will need at least one other surgery in two to three months to remove two screws.
Corey Dawkins is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @CoreyDawkinsBP