A Bone to Pick

Time for a little rant.

In this era of internet fast - rapid dissemination of information, we've expected our hard-hitting beat reporters to keep asking the tough questions. Yesterday, the reporting on Reed Johnson's foot injury disappointed me. The news was lightning fast. I got a twitter text message from David Kaplan regarding Johnson's X-Rays showing a fracture in his foot. Then before blinking an eye there were links to articles from all of the major beat writers...Tribune's Paul Sullivan, Gordon Wittenmeyer/Sun-Times and Bruce Miles/Herald

Unfortunately they forgot to ask a followup question. Something like...could you tell us what bone is broken? C'mon guys, this is no longer the era of "the toe bone is connected to the foot bone".  In these times when medical information is being questioned for more
specific information, you would think they could ask what bone was
broken. It leads to less unnecessary speculation (or at least more
specific speculation). I had hoped they learned this lesson. I recall when Gordon Wittenmeyer got his dander up, when the news on Rich Harden's MRI showed a small rotator cuff tear but they didn't get that information after the test in October but only found out that information in January at the Cubs convention. I was proud of GW back then for raising a fuss.

Although it might not make much difference in estimating the time to recover (they all reported up front it would be 4 weeks, meaning he's out until September), it really bugs me that the baseball reporters didn't ask what bone was broken in Reed Johnson's foot. Group think often leads to complacency. They just might be missing something important here. After reading all 3 biggies (Sullivan, Wittenmeyer and Miles), none of them wrote anything more than this:

Sullivan: "Johnson continued to play and flied out in the second inning. He was removed in the top of the fourth and sent to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for X-rays, which revealed a non-displaced fracture on the top of the foot."

Wittenmeyer: "The platoon lead-off man suffered a non-displaced fracture when he fouled a pitch off his foot in the first inning Wednesday. He later singled and scored the first run and batted once more before leaving as the pain got worse."

Miles: "The Cubs originally announced Johnson had a bruise, but X-rays revealed a non-displaced fracture..."

There are 11 bones in the foot not counting toes (phalanges). If it's a metatarsal fracture (there are 5 metatarsals) it probably doesn't make much difference in terms of time to heal but if he broke a bone called the navicular it could be longer than 4 weeks...much longer. Dempster broke a phalanx (big toe) and it took 2 weeks so I assume it's not that...they would have said he broke a toe, not his foot if that were the case.

A navicular fracture was what Frank Thomas as well as Michael Jordan had early in his career and currently has led to big problems with Yao Ming.

I found this link with some info on why Navicular fractures are different but it does mention one thing in common with what they said about Reed Johnson's injury...it's located at the top of the foot:

As early as 2002, the American Academy of Family Physicians reported a rise in tarsal navicular bone fractures in active people. It is most common in athletes who indulge in running sports, and is very difficult to spot, which causes further complications as the condition worsens. The bone is located at the top of the foot.

The first symptom is usually pain in the midfoot area, gradually spreading throughout the rest of the foot. Regular x-rays don’t usually pick up the damage right away, so doctors are often led in another direction in trying to diagnose the source of the trouble. Slight injuries are often treated with six to eight weeks of immobilization in a cast. Worse cases like Yao’s often necessitate surgery.

Navicular fractures can be difficult to diagnose and often don't show up on initial X-Rays because they can happen initially as a stress fracture. That's a subtle hairline crack that is like a crack in a car winshield. It can extend or propagate if it gets continued activity and RJ did play after he was hit in the foot during the 1st inning at bat, in fact he singled and subsequently scored on DLee's sac fly...then continued in the outfield for another inning and even batted again until he couldn't handle the pain.

I'm not saying RJ's got a navicular fracture.

We don't know what bone is injured when they say a fracture in the foot even if they have said the X-Ray's showed a non-displaced fracture. So I'm just sayin' that reporting a non-displaced fracture in the foot isn't enough these days. Especially when it's two day's before the trade deadline and any DL stint longer than 4 weeks could be a significant issue.

 

Comments

Only possible more charitable explanations that I can think of for their omission is that the Cubs sent them the news in some form of press release, where there wasn't an actual human being available to whom they could quickly direct follow-up questions.

If that is the case, then I would hope that either A. one of them would note it in their reporting, or B. within the next few hours, as someone from the Cubs becomes available, it will be the first question asked.

If it winds up being B, then I am going to give you all credit as being the impetus. If neither of those things happen, then yeah, it's another case of "reporters" really being little more than dictation machines. Someone pay me to transcribe the Cubs press releases! I cn transricbe goood!

I think what we're failing to take into consideration here is that 99.9% of Cub fans probably don't care what bone in the foot is broken as long as they know he's only out 4 weeks.

I think the assumption is that if the Cubs said he would be out 4 weeks and there's a non-displaced fracture in the top of his foot, it means it's not a navicular fracture.

OTOH, if the "4 weeks" figure is just conjecture on the part of the beat writers based on a typical timetable for a standard foot injury, my assumption goes out the window.

Also, don't get me wrong, I love reading Dr. Hecht's analysis, and it always helps when he has more details with which to work, but the time for these "journalists" to do some sleuthing was when KW and Prior kept getting injured and no one knew what was going on.

where there wasn't an actual human being available to whom they could quickly direct follow-up questions
---
if it was a press release...then I would have expected Bruce Levine to don his cape and fly to the information highway's rescue. Plus David Kaplan has contacts with all the medical staff at Northwestern. I think he could have gotten that question asked and answered for a freebie Lou Malnotti's pizza.

...getting off the soap box to watch today's game.

It's a very, very good soapbox on which to stand. 

even Len/Bob in the TV pregame say: non-displaced fracture in RJ's left foot.

sigh.

and although Stevens is at the ballpark today, they expect Sam Fuld to be with the club in Florida.

Don't you have to be down for 5 days or something once you get sent to AAA?

I think it's 15 days unless you replace someone who goes to the DL.

http://blogs.dailyherald.com/node/2351

Miles weighs in on Fuld being called to the team for the Florida series

also says Soto may be ready for possibly the Cincy series or more likely Colorado series.

now it comes out...

NY Times reporting ManRam and Ortiz tested positive in 2003 and are on "the list"

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/sports/baseball/...

Wittenmeyer also got a crucial fact wrong. Johnson broke his foot AFTER he singled and scored in the 1st, not before. The foul ball off his foot came in his 2nd at bat.

I was thinking the same thing.

Nice catch.  Curious to see how long his article stays posted before being corrected.

Two guys HBP??? What is Hart doing?

How is Mike Fontenot better than Andres Blanco, again? I'm having trouble making sense of all that.

Esther?

Esther?

Less chance of Fontenot (than Blanco) landing Big Z on the DL for ritual piggy-back rides?

I <3 Fontenot.

I'm sure the 4 week estimate came from the medical staff, probably the orthopedic surgeon (Dr. Gryzlo) and not the writers.

...still it's like when ARam had his dislocation or Dempster broke his big toe...the recovery estimates were all over the map and it takes time to see how things are progressing. Having more info just helps analyze these injuries. Hence a rant not an inquistion.

Some injuries have a trickier track record, but still can heal quickly if all goes well. Another one has a the nickname called a Jones fracture...which is a fracture (often starting as a stress fracture as well) at the base of the 5th metatarsal but closer to the bones proximal shaft and has a very different healing timeframe than an avulsion type fracture at the base of the 5th MT (which is much more common).

How the hell do you let Kaz "Anal Fissure" Matsui homer off you?

Dude...

Fox, Bradley... back to back!

When Bradley and Sori are hitting, with Lee and Fox before them, that is quite a murderous lineup.... Too bad Lou doesn't seem to trust Fox with catching...

With a healthy roster I like Fox on the bench. He can be what Olmedo Seanez was to the Dodgers a few years ago: A bench bat with some thunder.

Another day of whoop-ass! I love it!

Heyman tweets that Cubs are close to Grabow and could add another pitcher...

http://twitter.com/SI_JonHeyman

cost should be interesting...if the cubs can get him for scraps that'd be impressive, but a fox/marshall/hoff could be in their future.

grabe's worth more than his numbers show.

Can't imagine the cubs would give up marshall, it would seem to defeat the purpose of making the trade. My guess is that they offer/ed a couple of A level or below arms that have potential and hope that it gets done. That seems to be hendry's m.o. when trading for spare parts.

problem is grabow is more than spare parts to PIT...and a lotta teams

i hate his control issues and he's got starter stuff, but he can't quit working deep counts and walking people.

behind those "meh" numbers are a 93-95mph fastball, a deadly changeup that actually works on righties, and a slider. lot of people would love to kick the tires on the guy...esp. since he stays healthy, too.

think I worded that incorrectly. Grabow is a solid setup guy, but Hendry hasn't typically given up a lot for guys like him in the past. Not that Hoff or Fox should be untouchable, but I guess I don't see them going in a deal. I guess we'll see.

heard that...i don't have an inside track on the trade or rumors or names, but i know grabow was highly sought after this offseason and his stuff is something people would love to kick the tires on.

he's got starter stuff, but he can't consistently put it together...even batter to batter.

just looking at his #s it should seem that he'd be cheap, but behind those numbers are some tools that are worth a lot of he even finds a shred more control over it.

Hmmm... he sounds like someone Dave Duncan would turn into a staff ace....

http://community.post-gazette.com/blogs/pbc/defaul...

Grabow, Gorzelanny being talked about...

(thnx to Paul Noce for the links from parachat)

Grabow and Gorzelanny suggests that the Cubs may need more depth at starting pitcher. Wonder if Lilly is to be out longer than first suggested?

You 3/44'd yourself.

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  • I think you're very much overvaluing Schwarber if you think he can fetch Sale by himself. An unproven rookie with demonstrable offensive flaws he hasn't had the chance to show he can overcome and with no defensive upside will never fetch an ace of the quality of Sale in today's market where pitchers are fetching insane prices, especially with Sale's team friendly contract. You'd for sure need to throw in a pitching prospect in return at least.

    johann 27 min 9 sec ago view
  • best relievers in baseball tend to not be the best relievers for very long though...

    also, when you start just trading away guys for marginal benefits, that window will shrink. The window is easily through 2021, just have to look how long Rizzo is signed for and how long they have rights to Bryant, Russell and so on down the line.

    Can't say I'm too worried about the SP, they've done nothing but land guys on the cheap and on the expensive since they've arrived. TheJedi will figure that out.

    Rob G. 1 hour 3 min ago view
  • Not sure I agree with this logic. The Cubs are one of the best teams in baseball, they have spent heavily on the team over the past couple of seasons, have more hitting prospects than they have places for them to play (and more on the way), a clear weakness in the bullpen, and have a 1.5 year window with Arrieta (to say nothing of the likely declines of Lester and Lackey).

    Unless you think (maybe even if you do think) Schwarber is the next coming of Babe Ruth, I would certainly consider trading him if it brought back a couple of the best relief pitchers in baseball.

    Rob Richardson 3 hours 46 min ago view
  • Miggy was going to sit anyway with Lester starting.

    In related news, do any of the Cubs pitchers want to throw to Contreras?

    Rob G. 3 hours 58 min ago view
  • Only Russell and Miggy failed to reach base yesterday. Both sit today.

    billybucks 4 hours 6 min ago view
  • Trading Schwarber actually makes a lot of sense because his actual position is currently being taken by Anthony Rizzo, unless they vote in the DH this offseason.

    Trading him for a reliever is never going to happen though. I don't think you can trade Schwarber unless you get a CF'er for a few years (presume Fowler finds his multi-year deal next offseson) or a couple of high end young starters...or an established starter...a good one like Chris Sale.

    Rob G. 4 hours 18 min ago view
  • I don't see what the Yanks have that the Cubs need.

    Ryno 4 hours 23 min ago view
  • peter gammons on MLB network pushing the yanks/schwarber angle...says insiders from the yanks say brian cashman highly covets him.

    unless that conversation starts with a.miller (2/18m left on contract) i dunno how you even start that conversation given the "not trash, but no stars" state of the yanks minor league system.

    they got corner OF'r aaron judge, C gary sanchez, RHP james kaprielian's questionable elbow, RHP domingo acevedo...all interesting, none expected to impact the game like schwarber's power potential.

    crunch 4 hours 56 min ago view
  • Zo, Heyward, KB, Riz, Contreras (LF), Baez (SS), Szczur (CF), Ross, Lester

    Cubster 5 hours 4 min ago view
  • damn. low sample size blah blah whatever, but that slash got sneaky good. 10 hits, 4 walks, 2hr, 1 double through 39 PA...nice

    crunch 5 hours 24 min ago view
  • Buddy Ryan takes his place alongside George Allen as the great Bear head coaches who never were.

    VirginiaPhil 8 hours 18 min ago view
  • Well, at least he can still hit: Jake slashing .294/.368/.868. Forget hitting 8th -- he should hit 6th.

    billybucks 8 hours 37 min ago view
  • Curious to see today's lineup vs. a LHP: Ross needs to catch Lester, Joe likes Javy at 3B when Lester pitches. Heyward with back-to-back good games at the plate, and is actually hitting a little better against LHP (.247/.341) than RHP (.232/.321), although neither is much to write home about. But, tomorrow is an early day game, so some regulars will probably sit either today or tomorrow.

    Maybe Willson in LF, KB in RF and Almora in CF? If so, Albert Jr., assume every ball is yours.

    billybucks 8 hours 42 min ago view
  • "Pitching prospects not looking so hot"

    That reminds me that Lucas Giolito will start for the Nats tonight.

    VirginiaPhil 8 hours 45 min ago view
  • Well, there you go. Federowicz is one of the best at balls in the dirt.

    VirginiaPhil 9 hours 4 min ago view
  • Reds pitching meeting tomorrow:

    "Hey coach...maybe we should walk Bryant?"
    "No...keep challenging him with fastballs! What kind of man are you?! The Cubs walked Harper, and look what happened there! They got teased for it, by one of the Nat players! Is that what you want?"

    billybucks 19 hours 45 min ago view