Once Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton exited Saturday's game with knee soreness, he wasted no time getting back to Miami and onto the operating table. Once it became clear that a few days off would not do much to change how his knee felt, it made sense for Stanton to have the procedure right away.
By right away we mean less than 24 hours after his last at-bat. Stanton flew from St. Louis to Miami on Saturday night and was operated on by Marlins team physician Dr. Lee Kaplan on Sunday morning. Stanton underwent arthroscopic surgery to have loose bodies removed from his right knee. Loose bodies are typically flecks of cartilage that can create discomfort within a joint. Depending on their size, loose bodies can also block normal joint motion. There is limited space inside any joint, so the presence of foreign particles can be an irritant, which can then produce fluid in response, creating even less space. If they are not presenting a problem, there is no urgency to remove loose bodies, but once they alter an athlete's ability to function, the only solution is to remove them.
Earlier in the week, Stanton had hinted that he might opt for immediate surgery if the knee were to prevent him from being able to return after a few days of rest. Stanton tested the knee with fielding drills and batting practice before Friday's game, then entered late as a pinch hitter and struck out during his lone at-bat, but reported no issues with the knee. Saturday was a different matter. Stanton was in the starting lineup, recorded a hit and scored a run, but by the third inning he was out of the game. It's worth noting that this is not the same knee that gave Stanton trouble early in the season. In fact, there has been no mention of the left knee bothering Stanton since May and, incidentally, his performance at the plate bumped up dramatically, earning him National League Player of the Month honors that month.
Although Stanton is being forced to miss the festivities in Kansas City this week as he recovers, the hope is he will return in All-Star form. The rehabilitation from his procedure is fairly straightforward. Once the wound has healed, the stitches have been removed, and Stanton is walking normally, he should be cleared to progress his activity fairly swiftly. The primary issues are ensuring adequate strength returns in the muscles that surround the knee, and no pain or swelling as his activity ramps up. The Marlins have declared a timetable of four to six weeks and barring a setback along the way, Stanton and his fresh legs should rejoin the team by the second half of August.
If September looks like May, then there is much to look forward to for Stanton fantasy owners.