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.