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March 12, 2012
Battle of the Bulge
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals (Bulging disc in neck)
There are multiple ways in which a bulging disc can cause pain. The muscles and tissues around the neck can become painful as they strain to stabilize the area and take pressure off the injured disc, and the bulge can be so big that it puts pressure either on the nerves exiting the spinal cord or on the spinal cord itself. By all reports, Carpenter does not have a disc that is bulging to the point where it presses on the nerves. In cases like this, physical therapy focuses on decreasing pain and inflammation as well as strengthening the area. An epidural injection may also be considered to relieve the inflammation, but that does not appear to be in the works quite yet.
Considering he hasn’t thrown since March 3rd, it’s unlikely that Carpenter is going to get right back out there and start throwing again now that he has a diagnosis. He still has to wait until he is pain free and recovers full range of motion before he can start pitching again without risk of reinjury or injuring other body parts. As a result, Carpenter may not be ready for Opening Day, which places additional pressure on Adam Wainwright to be ready. Wainwright has looked good so far, but he’s coming back from Tommy John surgery, so he still has to exercise caution. Carpenter is supposed to discuss his injury issues more with the media today, and hopefully we’ll hear a firmer timeline for his return.
Eduardo Nunez, New York Yankees (Right hand contusion)
After trying to take batting practice over the weekend, Nunez continued to suffer from soreness, so he will have to shut it down for another few days. A fine line exists between healing from severe bone contusions and healing from tiny fractures, so total healing time can be approximately the same in both cases. Right now, Nunez will take a few more days off and see where he stands mid-week.
Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers (Rapid heartbeat)
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins (Left wrist contusion)
Nolan Reimold, Baltimore Orioles (Chipped tooth)
Matt Lindstrom, Baltimore Orioles (Low Back inflammation)
Paul Konerko fouled a ball off his left knee and is day to day… Casey Kotchman is also dealing with low back tightness and is day to day… Ian Kinsler was scratched from yesterday’s lineup because of a tight lower back… Chris Perez has been increasing his throwing distances and has an outside shot of making it back for Opening Day… Denard Span suffered a stiff neck in Saturday’s game, but according to reports, that’s all it was… Dallas Braden is not expected to complete his recovery from shoulder surgery until early May… Mike Napoli is dealing with a sore left groin and is day to day… Arodys Vizcaino recently had an MRI on his elbow that revealed inflammation. Even though it doesn’t appear that the Braves are concerned, Vizcaino did have a partial ligament tear in that elbow at the end of the 2010 season, and this will need to be monitored closely… Tommy Hanson recovered from his concussion and pitched an inning yesterday, reaching the low 90s. He should have enough time to prepare for the start of the regular season… After receiving an injection for a bulging disc last week, Humberto Quintero will start hitting early this week… Andre Ethier is battling mid-back stiffness for the second time so far this spring after tweaking the area while batting… Mark Reynolds dealt with some back stiffness of his own over the weekend but was able to make his start on Sunday and should be safe from here on out… Jason Berken suffered a setback on Friday during his recovery from a strained hamstring, and his return may be delayed by a week or so. Sometimes it takes longer to heal a hamstring than it does to kill the villain in a slasher film.
Corey Dawkins is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @CoreyDawkinsBP