Darwin Barney's Pacific Coast League (PCL) Sprain
Darwin Barney went on the DL this week spraining "the other" cruciate or Posterior Cruciate knee ligament. I'm sure the Cubs called Iowa Cubs manager Bill Dancy to let him know that his Pacific Coast League (PCL) Iowa team might shortly be getting another middle infielder on rehab assignment for his lineup. Barney sustained the injury to his right knee on the play at home plate on Monday night, scoring the Cubs only run in a 1-0 victory. It looked like he bounced his knee in the dirt during a head first dive and he did stumble a bit getting up from his dive. The MRI showed injury without stretch (grade 1) to his Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL). This is considered fairly minor but probably needs to be protected from further injury for about 2-3 weeks.
"As soon as I slid into home plate last night, I knew something was really wrong," he said. "The whole knee went numb. I had an MRI today and it revealed that Grade 1 strain in my knee." (editiorial note: ligament injuries are sprains, muscle injuries are strains)
Right now Darwin Barney can't jump, but you can. So read more after the jump.
There has been plenty of media attention paid to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) which when torn in a high performance athlete is treated with reconstructive surgery but little is written about in the media when the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is injured. The Posterior Cruciate is structurally the more robust of the two cruciates and isolated PCL injuries can occur but are less frequent and usually produce more subtle symptoms. If both the Anterior and Posterior Cruciates are torn, more drastic instability can occur including knee dislocation but fortunately that is not very common. Most people hear about the fairly common patella (kneecap) dislocation but a true knee dislocation (tibia-femur) is a severe injury and acute knee dislocations can even have nerve and artery damage.
The PCL attaches behind the knee on the tibia and goes to the medial (inner) side of the central notch on the femur. The ligament prevents posterior translation of the tibia relative to the femur above and also provides central rotational stability. Here is an excellent 3D modeling video of the PCL including how the ligament works in flexion and extension of the knee. The Anterior Cruciate (ACL) attaches to the anterior tibial spine near the front of the knee and goes to the lateral (outer) part of the femoral notch. The ligaments cross (hence, cruciate) each other and protect and stabilize the knee when working in tandem from excess rotation and translation.
Before MRI imaging was available, grade 2 vs 3 PCL injuries were sometimes subtle to diagnose on exam with what was called a "posterior sag" sign with the knee extended or a "posterior drawer" sign with the knee flexed. The PCL does image well on MRI studies (see "P" on image), so seeing injury to it (because the tissue signal is altered in injury) is straightforward making even subtle grade 1 injuries possible to diagnose these days.
The most common mechanism of injury is a direct blow to the front of the upper tibia, which is what seemed to happen to Barney's leg in the head first dive at home plate.
Certainly, a grade 1 strain should respond to rest and rehab in a few weeks but when the PCL has a third degree injury and the knee has instability there are arthroscopically assisted surgical reconstructive techniques (see video) available. These have evolved and are significantly improved over the last 2 decades and much of the technology has been based on arthroscopic considerations for the ACL which is now a frequently performed surgery. Brewer ace Yovani Gallardo tore his ACL in May 2008 (against the Cubs avoiding contact with Prince Fielder on a Reed Johnson bunt) and was able to come back to pitch in late September and started a playoff game vs the Phillies that season. The injured PCL has better blood supply than the ACL and therefore can heal without subsequent instability. The PCL is much less frequently reconstructed (than the ACL) and often has several other associated injuries including the ACL and meniscal tears making any associated instability more extensive, so the results are more difficult to assess and should not be compared to the more common anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction outcomes. I don't know of any major league players that have needed PCL reconstruction although I would be interested to hear if any mlb player has had this done.
I wonder if Doc Gryzlo will recommend a few games of rehab in the PCL for Barney's PCL once the swelling and soreness improves.
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.