Stephania Bell: Colorado Rockies

When the Colorado Rockies' Michael Cuddyer jammed his left shoulder last week diving for a ball, it sounded as if the soreness might cause him to miss a few days. That soreness turned out to be due to a fracture of the glenoid, the “socket” side of the ball and socket shoulder joint. As Cuddyer told the Denver Post, “It’s a fracture like any other fracture, so they are telling me that it’s at least six to eight weeks to heal. That’s where we are.”

The glenoid is the hemispherical-shaped end of the scapula, or shoulder blade, which accommodates the ball-shaped end of the humerus or arm bone. A fracture of the glenoid is usually the result of a traumatic injury. In sports, that trauma is often due to diving and landing on the shoulder, as was the case with Cuddyer, who was attempting a diving play at third base when he suffered the injury.

The severity of the injury depends on the location of the fracture within the joint and whether or not the fracture is displaced. Cuddyer’s fracture was reported as non-displaced, meaning the bone remained in alignment, despite the presence of a crack. A significantly displaced fracture would have required surgical intervention to restore normal alignment and help ensure healing. The location of Cuddyer’s fracture within the glenoid has not been made public, but there are typically two primary areas where a break happens. One is on the outer margin, or rim, and the other is deep in the socket, or fossa. No matter where the location of the fracture, the best news in Cuddyer’s case is that it does not appear he will need surgery, eliminating other potential complications. The most challenging aspect for Cuddyer will be regaining range of motion and strength in the arm, sufficient enough to be effective at the plate. Late July or early August will likely be his soonest return date.

In the meantime, the Rockies await news on the outcome of exploratory surgery for outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and his ailing left index finger. Tuesday’s surgery with Dr. Thomas Graham, noted hand specialist of the Cleveland Clinic, should hopefully help clarify the nature of what has been bothering Gonzalez and offer a timetable for his return.

Addendum: Exploratory surgery turned out to be explanatory surgery for Gonzalez. Dr. Graham discovered a small tumor, a giant cell tumor, on the outfielder’s index finger that explains the chronic irritation and swelling he was experiencing. These tumors are commonly found in the tendon sheaths of the hands and feet A biopsy will confirm whether the tumor is benign (such tumors typically are). Presuming there are no surprises, Gonzalez is expected to require several weeks to recover, first to allow the soft tissue surrounding the tumor site to heal, then to regain his grip strength and ability to swing the bat.

A finger injury also has Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado out for multiple weeks. Arenado fractured the tip of his left middle finger (oh, those nasty headfirst slides) in late May. While surgery was not required, there is still the matter of the bone healing completely, followed by rehab to the point of being game ready. The Rockies will monitor the bone healing progression and increase his activity accordingly so a timeline remains fluid but he should not be expected back before early July.

Video: Injury update on Carlos Gonzalez

June, 4, 2014
Stephania Bell discusses Carlos Gonzalez's latest finger injury and how much time he could miss.

Carlos Gonzalez contemplating surgery

September, 17, 2013
The middle finger of Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez’ right hand has not been normal since he injured it swinging a bat in early July. Since then, there has been rest, tape, altered bat grips, and multiple other means of trying to address the issue.

Most recently, Gonzalez was shut down to the point of not even being allowed to pick up a bat in an effort to heal the injured collateral ligament. After a few weeks of rest, Gonzalez tried to return, but only in a defensive role to avoid further aggravating his finger.

And yet the pain persists.

According to the Denver Post, Gonzalez is consulting with hand specialists, and the possibility of surgery looms. Chronic instability could threaten his stature as a hitter, especially if he continues to try to compensate by altering his swing.

Gonzalez understandably is leaning toward surgery, given the finger’s failure to heal despite the downtime. The biggest challenge following a surgery like this is regaining the range of motion in the finger after extended immobilization. The surgical repair helps restore the stability but range of motion has to be adequate to grip the bat normally. Once that hurdle is overcome, it is just a matter of reintegrating baseball activities.

The time frame is such that Gonzalez should recover before spring training begins. For now, it seems unlikely he will be swinging the bat again this season. It’s time for fantasy owners to part ways and hope for a fresh start with Gonzalez next year.