Baseball Injury Report

From Injury Watch, May 21, 2007…
Hank Blalock (3B, TEX)
Blalock’s shoulder pain that moved down into his arm has been diagnosed as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (aka TOS). The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website describes it as follows:

TOS gets its name from the space (the thoracic outlet) between your collarbone (clavicle) and your first rib. This narrow passageway is crowded with blood vessels, muscles, and nerves. If the shoulder muscles in your chest are not strong enough to hold the collarbone in place, it can slip down and forward, putting pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that lie under it. Symptoms vary, depending on which structures (nerves or blood vessels) are being compressed. Pressure on the blood vessels can reduce the flow of blood to your arms and hands, making them feel cool and tire easily. Pressure on the nerves can leave you with a vague, aching pain in your neck, shoulder, arm or hand. Overhead activities are particularly difficult.

TOS can result from injury, disease, or a congenital abnormality. Poor posture and obesity can aggravate the condition, which is more common in women than in men. Psychological changes are often seen in patients with thoracic outlet syndrome. It is not clear whether these precede the onset of the syndrome or are the result of dealing with the pain and frustration of diagnosing and treating this condition.

In simple terms: The surgery Blalock will have will remove a rib just below the clavicle and shoulder in his throwing arm side. The extra space made possible by the removal of the rib will allow more room for the bundle of nerves to pass through.

He’ll be on the shelf for six weeks before he can start exercising the shoulder and torso. He’ll need another six week or so to get game ready to return to the Rangers. Most likely, we won’t see him back on the field until early in August at the earliest. Unless he has some sort of complications, this surgery should not have an impact on his career beyond this season.

From Injury Watch, May 17, 2007…
Scott Podsednik (OF, CHA)
Yesterday marked one month since the White Sox placed Podsednik on the disabled list with a strained right adductor muscle. At this point of his rehab, he’s doing light jogging and some light agility work. He isn’t even close to testing out the adductor muscle for fear it will tear again.

When the injury first occurred, he projected a return in early June. That’s not going to happen unless he can jump start his recovery. He’s at about 30-40% intensity level in his workouts. Factor in the White Sox medical staff’s reluctance to push him for fear of aggravating the ailment, and it will be a slow road to recovery. At his current rate, it’s at least another three to four weeks before he’ll be back in the White Sox lineup. Any kind of setback could push his return into late June.

From Injury Watch, May 16, 2007…
Tadahito Iguchi (2B, CHA)
After being one of the most productive second baseman in the American league last year, Iguchi is struggling this season. But he has a good reason—he suffered a sprained index finger on his left hand very early in the year. It has hampered his swing ever since. It doesn’t bother him in the field, but it does while swinging a bat. He’s lost some of the strength in his grip, so he’s not driving the ball like he did last year. The ailment is healing, and the Pale Hose expect his bat will come around shortly.

Brad Wilkerson (OF, TEX)
You have to start wondering why Wilkerson continues to battle injuries. Last year it was a shoulder injury that required surgery. Now, a strained right hamstring has landed him on the disabled list. In between those two injuries is a left knee injury that required a cortisone injection in mid-April. He avoided the DL with that injury, but not the hamstring. No word yet from the Rangers on how much time he’ll miss. The fact he heard a “pop” isn’t encouraging.

From Injury Watch, May 15, 2007
Richie Sexson (1B, SEA)
The Mariners reportedly shopped Sexson over the winter but didn’t find any takers. Did they see a slow start coming in 2007?

Back in 2004, Sexson suffered two dislocated shoulders (left) before undergoing surgery to repair the damage. He had the shoulder tightened up and the labrum repaired. I’ve seen several comments in recent weeks wondering if Sexson’s shoulder is a problem again; he is hitting just .183. He is on pace to hit 25 HRs and drive in 90, though at the current rate of contact it’s hard seeing him maintaining that pace. Last year he hit a home run once in every 17.3 at bats. This year that ratio is 23.0. A noticeable difference, but it doesn’t point to a power collapse such as Scott Rolen’s numbers do so far.

His GB/FB ratio is currently 1.27, meaning he’s hitting a few more grounders than fly balls. Last season it was 1.10. The ratios don’t raise a red flag at this point. His AB/K rate in 2006 was 3.8. This year it’s 4.6, suggesting he’s being slightly more patient at the plate and making better contact.

At the end of May last year, Sexson was barely hitting .200 with just six homers. Sound familiar? He does have a history of being a slow starter—sometimes. While it would be easy to blame his struggles on a hidden injury such as his shoulder, we can’t do that. We don’t see anything to suggest his health is the reason why he’s hitting so poorly.

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