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Happy Thanksgiving! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume Monday, December 1

Rebecca Glass 

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March 2, 2012 3:00 am

Collateral Damage: Socket to Him

4

Corey Dawkins and Rebecca Glass

A.J. Burnett finds out just what it means to be a pirate, a couple players go under the knife, and various other injuries around spring training.

A.J. Burnett, PIT (Eye)
Bunting practice is usually not dangerous; occasionally a batter might injure a finger but, only rarely does something more serious happen. On Wednesday, Burnett fell into this latter category. In the video of the incident in question, the ball deflects off of Burnett’s bat and strikes him at the corner of his eye and the eye socket. He is helped by assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano and walks off the field with a towel to his face. After flying back to Pittsburgh for more tests, Burnett was diagnosed with an orbital bone fracture and will undergo surgery on Friday. Bones heal at a fairly predictable pace; players usually return between four and eight weeks. Burnett will have to take it easy, but assuming there is no serious trauma to the eye itself, he should be able to start getting into baseball shape before that magic number is reached. Still, Burnett will almost certainly start the season on the disabled list.

Ryan Howard, PHI (Achilles surgery)
After Howard saw Dr. Myerson, additional information came to light. He had a small procedure to clean out stitch and surrounding tissue; the stitch was an internal one but the integrity of the Achilles repair is not compromised. This is the key: if the repair was significantly compromised, Howard may not have been able to make it back this year. Fortunately, this was not the case. During the procedure, Dr. Myerson consulted with infectious disease specialists, which revealed that Howard had an infection and the first baseman was placed on antibiotics. With news that the tendon is not compromised, the biggest issue is keeping the wound clean and not infected. Recovery from Achilles surgeries are so long and have so many ups and downs that there is no true timetable on Howard’s, but this could be seen as a relatively minor blip in the process.



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Scott Sizemore, Freddie Freeman, Matt Moore and others...

Scott Sizemore, OAK (Torn ACL)
An MRI revealed a torn ACL, ending Sizemore’s season before it started. In the past, ACL surgery was performed immediately after injury and involved being placed in a cast; surgeons eventually found that complications (such as extreme stiffness and loss of range of motion) were occurring more often than they expected. Now, surgery is delayed for about four to six weeks while the player attends physical therapy to decrease swelling while increasing range of motion and strength. Cutting and pivoting activities are avoided for at least five or, more frequently, six months. The best-case scenario for Sizemore would have him returning around the last week of the season, so it’s safe to assume that he will miss the entire year; he should be able to make a full recovery for 2013. Josh Donaldson is being given a shot to take over third base; normally players who switch positions are at a slightly higher risk of injury, but he played third over the winter so the risk is somewhat lessened. 

Brian Roberts, BAL (Post-Concussion Syndrome)
Roberts’ recovery from his concussion has been a long road, but he appears to be making his way back to full recovery: He recently ran sprints with Brady Anderson in camp and responded well. Concussion management involves walking a very thin line with a slow progression. Roberts is still several stages away from full recovery, though sprinting without a recurrence of symptoms is a good first step. He still must be able to run the bases, go through extended hitting sessions, and make it through fielding drills. His final step would involve sliding drills, which have given him trouble before. With no timetable set for his return, just making it back will be an accomplishment.



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February 24, 2012 3:00 am

Collateral Damage: The DL Kings: Chad Fox

5

Corey Dawkins and Rebecca Glass

Meet the pitcher who accrued the most injury time among major leaguers since 2002

As we have seen in previous installments of the DL Kings, there are many ways in which a career can be shortened by injury:  There can be a single, recurring injury as we saw with Kelvim Escobar, or there can be a multitude of different injuries, as was the case with Alex Escobar. We have said that a player needs to have talent to be high on this list—otherwise teams would just cut loose after a few signs of trouble, and this holds true for Chad Fox, who holds the list’s infamous top spot. 

Fox was originally drafted by Cincinnati in the 23rd round of the 1992 draft, and through the 1995 season, he was almost exclusively a starting pitcher, where he demonstrated a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a good slider. Fox was traded  to Atlanta for outfielder Mike Kelly after the end of the 1995 season; He pitched for the Richmond Braves the following season, increasing his strikeout (from a 6.3 K/9 to 8.39), and dropping his walk rate (from 5.85 BB/9 to 4.73) . Alas, elbow trouble forced him to the disabled list and he  underwent Tommy John surgery that  July.

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We take a look at some of the most injury-prone players over the past decade, starting with Chris Snelling.

With only weeks to go until Spring Training gets into high gear, Collateral Damage takes a look at the baseball players (three pitchers, three position players) who have spent more time on the disabled list over the past decade than anyone else. Up first: Chris Snelling

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What if you could only place two players at a time on the disabled list? The history, inside.

Over the last several years, players have been placed on the disabled list in record numbers. This isn’t just due to an increasing number of injuries; at one time, only a limited number of players could be placed on the DL. If another player was injured and a team was at its limit, it was just too bad; the club had to make do. Now, teams can place an unlimited number of players on the DL, but teams might be abusing the privilege. 

"Disabled" or "injury" lists go all the way back to the early 1900s. Rosters held only 21 players, and several managers and National League clubs were upset at how the strict limit punished those unhealthy or unfortunate—something, perhaps, that should not be ignored today.* In response, the National League created the first official disabled list on July 12, 1915; it allowed players to be removed from the roster for a ten-day recuperation period.  Even though they were not allowed to play, injured players could remain with the team as a “coacher.”

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What conclusions can we draw from the distribution of the most common baseball injuries over the last nine years? The answers will surprise you...

Spring training seems like it is right around the corner, although from where I’m writing from, winter still hasn’t arrived (we’ve only had about three inches of snow in Boston this season). One of the great things about spring training is that you never have to worry about snow. On the other hand, injuries will happen regardless of the weather outside.  

Over the last few months we have talked about the ”usual suspects,” that is, the kind of injuries we see over and over. How common are they? To answer that question (and hopefully not bore everyone to death), I brought a bunch of graphs. There are also doughnuts for everyone at the back of the room. In the first graph, we have the breakdown of usual suspects disabled list injuries, with the data collected for the years 2002-2011. There is some overlap between a few of the categories, (most notably with fractures). It probably won’t surprise you that pitchers make up a large part of the shoulder and elbow injury categories (such as rotator cuff, labrum, or Tommy John surgeries).  Abdominal strains are more spread out; understandable when you consider that the number of swings a hitter takes during the season is often more than the number of pitches a pitcher throws throughout the year.   Other injuries, however, are less discerning in their targets: Knee injuries, hip injuries, and fractures are all equal opportunity disablers, with only the DH managing to miss out on the party.

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