Cub injuries

Will Carroll, BP's staff writer focusing on team health had this very interesting recent quote, from his "Cubs Team Health Report":

Age is a poor predictor of injuries. Younger players get hurt more, but they heal more quickly. Older players get hurt less, a variant of the survivor effect, but heal more slowly.

The media that follows baseball does it's best to understand and decipher sports injuries. It's a tough job for them and much gets lost in translation of medical terminology. Injured athletes often don't understand what they are being told about an injury or they are just afraid to fess up that their ache might be a significant problem until it goes on for weeks or longer. Trainers and medical staff are often reluctant to discuss information on the grounds of patient-physician confidentiality and some teams are just less open to giving what information they have to the media. The information is important to us fans, since key players dealing with even minor injuries and not performing to their best ability can drastically affect how a team plays. In 2009, Alphonso Soriano apparently had a knee injury that he tried to work through until it was so obvious that he couldn't run, leading to his arthroscopic knee surgery in September. An injury that flies under the radar screen of the medical staff, as in Soriano's case was costly and not in a way you can put the usual "days lost" analysis to.

According to Sun-Times beat reporter, Gordon Wittenmeyer, with the signing of John Grabow to a 2/7.5 contract (backended as only Jim Hendry can do) and the trading of Aaron Heilman to the Snakes, the Cubs have supposedly made their final bullpen move of the offseason.

The deal appears to secure the final key piece to the Cubs' projected 2010 bullpen, coming one day after the team traded veteran Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I'm pretty happy to see Heilman move out of town but replacing him with Grabow seems kind of blah. It's a Hendry thing to get a grizzled veteran for that 8th inning setup role and since Grabow is able to get lefty and righty hitters out (i.e. not a LOOGY), he's the heir apparent for the crusty veteran out of the bullpen for 2010.

List em. Since Jim Hendry was given the reins to the GM job in 2002, he's added through trade or free agency the following veteran bullpen lugnuts: Antonio Alfonseca, Mike Remlinger, Dave Veres, Mark Guthrie, Alan Benes, Phil Norton, Joe Borowoski, LaTroy Hawkins, Glendon Rusch, Cliff Bartosh, Scott Williamson, Chad Fox (twice), Bob Howry, Scott Eyre, Neal Cotts, Chad Gaudin, Jon Lieber, Luis Vizcaino, Aaron Heilman and lastly Grabow. I'd say for the most part, that's the ugly underbelly of MLB pitching although I know the Cubs are far from being alone in accumulating pitchers like these. Hence, I'm hoping the 2010 Cubs get more out of their young pitching so we don't see Chad Fox (round three?) ever again. Esmalin Caridad, Jeff Stevens and Justin Berg, I'm talking to you. It would be really nice to see productive seasons out of the recent 40 man roster additions including John Gaub, Blake Parker and even longshot/hotshot Raphael Dolis.

Carrie Muskat wrote yesterday that Alfonso Soriano has been playing with a sore knee since April 23rd, when he "banged his knee against the wall" while running after what turned out to be a Joey Votto home run.

"It hasn't been the same since,"
Soriano said. "It's getting better."

Lou Piniella said athletic trainer Mark O'Neal hasn't told him that Soriano can't play. He'll take it day by day.

"Soriano is a tough kid and wants to play," Piniella said. "If it
persists, we might have to get him out of there for a few days."

In 31 games since April 23rd, Soriano, has hit .233/.266/.431/697 (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS).  He has hit 7 HR, though none in his last 10 games. His current line of .253/.313/.495/807 is a season low, across all categories.

Well, actually it is the humerus that sees all the action when one dislocates a shoulder.

The shoulder anatomy is based on giving the joint extreme flexibility including very close to a 360 degree arc of motion. To achieve this enhanced level of function, mother nature drew up a ball and socket joint with an extremely shallow socket (the glenoid, which is the joint component of the shoulder blade or scapula).

The comparable joint in the lower extremity is the hip which is also a ball and socket joint but with a much deeper socket. The hip doesn't need the same arc of motion for function. The trade off for less motion is much better stability.

A shoulder dislocation shouldn't be confused with a "separated shoulder" which is what is medically known as an injury to the A-C (acromio-clavicular) joint between the clavicle (collarbone) and the acromion (the shoulder blade's bony projection that connects it to the clavicle).

Update: Paul Sullivan reports in the Tribune that Soto underwent an MRI today and has "minor inflammation in the biceps area." He will not be going on the DL.

Soto is likely to sit out the Friday and Saturday games in Milwaukee and "possibly all three depending on how he feels this weekend." Aaron Miles will be the designated emergency catcher behind Koyie Hill while Soto recovers.


Geovany Soto is supposedly in Chicago today so Cubs team orthopedist Stephen Gryzlo can take a look at that sore shoulder. If the defending NL ROY lands on the Disabled List, the logical move would be to summon 33-year-old Mark Johnson from Iowa. The lefthanded-hitting Johnson, who was originally drafted by the White Sox back in '94, went 4-for-19 at Mesa this spring.

Over parts of eight Major League seasons with the Sox, A's, Brewers, and
Cardinals, Johnson has compiled a hitting line of .218/.314/.318.
In other words, in the temporary catching tandem of Koyie Hill and Mark
Johnson, the big bat would be...nobody.

He is, however, said to "call a good game," the catching equivalent of being a blind date with a winning personality.
Let's keep a good thought re: Soto's check-up.

If you've been on the Web for even a few minutes today, you already know about the car crash that took the lives of Angels pitcher, Nick Adenhart, and two other people. The whole tragic story is here.

 

Out of concern for the mental health of the many Cub fans who regularly populate The Cub Reporter, the authors request that, until further notice, visitors please refrain from using the following words or phrases anywhere on or near the site:

  • shoulder
  • arm
  • "dead arm"
  • "tired arm"
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  • disabled
  • "skip a turn"
  • orthopedist
  • Dr. Stephen Gryzlo
  • examination
  • magnetic
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Thank you.

We all know Alfonso Soriano has been dealing with leg issues for awhile. Last August, against the Mets, he pulled up lame rounding 2nd base with a hamstring pull that kept him out of the lineup for a month and prevented him from running the bases aggressively the rest of the 2007 season. During spring training this year, people were questioning why he wasn't running all out. Manager Lou Piniella said in spring training he didn't want his left fielder running much to prevent any leg injuries. Certainly there was enough time for his hamstring injury to have healed in the offseason, so the Cub braintrust knew something wasn't right this season from the beginning in Arizona. This April, he pulled a calf muscle sometime before or after making a signature hop-catch in left field, which cost 2 weeks on the disabled list.

Last night after two days of rest (he didn't play the last game in Houston), Soriano obviously wasn't running normally on what should have been an easy leadoff double to the RF corner where he gimped toward 2nd base and had to do a headfirst slide to get into 2nd safely. Two plays later, Soriano "boldly" took off early on a line drive rope by Derrek Lee which Pirate right fielder Xavier Nady just missed making a diving catch. The ball popped out of Nady's glove letting Soriano score. If the catch was made, it would have been a baserunning blunder. His play in the outfield shows that his running is causing problems there as well. A single by Jason Bay in the bottom of the 1st, which if he had normal wheels would have been his fly ball to catch. It dropped in softly for a single and was ultimately fielded by CF Reed Johnson. In the 4th inning Zambrano and Soriano singled, Theriot walked. After a fielder's choice putting Sori at 3rd base, ARam hit a medium deep fly to right. Although Nady has a strong arm in RF, if Soriano had any confidence in his legs, I am sure he would have challenged Nady's arm, instead Nady's throw was cut off since it was obvious Soriano and his leg wasn't a threat to score. In the 5th, he hit into a double play and even the Pirate TV commentators were showing replays on how funky his running looked while not even making the play at first base close. Soriano was mercifully replaced in the bottom of the 6th by Micah Hoffpauir and as it was a blowout game one wonders if it was the score or Lou's frustration with Soriano's running that lead to that move. The Chicago TV feed had their camera's on the Cub dugout showing the intereaction between Piniella and Soriano where it appeared to me that Lou was trying to get Soriano to fess up and admit that his leg is hurting, although he adamantly denied being injured.

Chad Fox is landing on the DL again, apparently re-injuring his right elbow playing catch with Scott Eyre. If you play the game of six degrees of separation, Will Ohman's ghost just played a trick on Chad Fox. Or maybe it was just being overly optimistic to expect his oft injured right pitching elbow to hold up. Fox has been on the Cubs 25 man roster for a whopping 17 days. He was activated May 2nd, so in his 2nd stint with the Cubs he's made it to the DL faster than his first. In 2005 he went on the DL April 26th, and he's spared us this time as his injury that year occurred while on the mound. I have vivid memories of his pain on that cold April night in 2005:

when he threw a slider Monday night and felt the "pop," he knew it was bad.

This time the diagnosis is ulnar neuritis or inflammation of the ulnar nerve. For a 37 year old pitcher with a history of 3 surgeries on the elbow (he didn't get surgery after the 2005 event), it's not surprising that pitching, given his surgical history, will make the nerve cranky. The ulnar nerve passes behind the medial/inside of the elbow called the cubital tunnel but this area is what most people call "the crazy bone", which gets it's name because impact to that area often dings the nerve causing sharp pain and tingling. The nerve is susceptible to inflammation leading to what is called cubital tunnel syndrome where the ulnar nerve inflammation leads to pain, numbness or even weakness in the hand, starting on the inside of the elbow and radiating down the forearm into the ring and little fingers. If the symptoms don't calm down with rest and anti-inflammatory medication then there are surgical options including transposing (moving) the nerve to a location anteriorly (further in front of the elbow) where it isn't as likely to be crimped from repetitive bending. There are alot of variations on that surgery. The fact that Chad Fox has had 3 previous surgeries, including Tommy John (Ulnar Collateral Ligament reconstruction), and he opted not to have surgery with his last "event" in 2005 indicates he will pass on any procedure this time as well. Expect the nerve symptoms to calm down but always be eager to come back with repetitive activity. The timeline to recovery? Well Cubs trainer, Mark O'Neal said:

"it could take a week, it could take two weeks, it could take two months. Who knows?"

The extra righty spot in the bullpen moves on. Kevin Hart, Chad Fox and now Jose Ascanio. My guess is if Ascanio, who has been closing for the Iowa Cubs (9 saves) can throw strikes, Lou is gonna fall in love with another hard throwing option out of the bullpen. Ascanio in Iowa has pitched 21 innings, given up 14 hits with a 2.08 era. Now if those numbers could translate to the big club, trainer Mark O'Neal's most pessimistic prognosis just might be a bit too optimistic.

UPDATE [1:00PM CST]: It will indeed be Jose Ascanio getting the call-up. 

It looks like a DL stint
is in the Wardosaurus' future. The Cubs premier bat off the bench
apparently injured his low back when he took a tumble at first base
during spring training and it just kept hurting. This makes more sense regarding his slow start as he was
0-14 as a pinch hitter until his recent run of three game changing
pinch hits.

His back pain persisted so an MRI yesterday was obtained and diagnosed a herniated disc.
He's agreed to get an epidural cortisone injection to treat this. The
treatment means a few days of rest (ie. no baseball activities) and so
expect another Iowa callup, most likely power hitting lefty 1B-OF Micah Hoffpauir.

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