|ESPN.com: Story||[Print without images]|
!*!*!@$*! That's what Alfonso Soriano said when a pitch from Jeff Bennett of the Atlanta Braves hit him smack on the fourth knuckle of his left hand in the second inning of Wednesday night's game.
Soriano has a small displaced fracture (meaning the two bony ends are slightly offset) in his left fourth metacarpal bone (the bone connecting the finger and the wrist that forms the knuckle).
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Soriano is expected to be in a splint for three weeks, followed by a period of rehabilitation to regain his range of motion and grip strength, with a hopeful return to the lineup at about six weeks.
The bad news? Aside from the injury itself, the location of the fracture could be problematic in terms of regaining his grip. The fourth metacarpal has to move through a broad range of motion in order to close the fist and maintain a solid grip on the bat. Good healing and good rehab will minimize the potential negative impact of the injury.
The good news? The time he will need to rest his hand will not require Soriano to rest his legs. In fact, he should be able to continue to work on developing the confidence that gives him his quick burst, which has been absent of late.
Soriano, who has suffered a number of muscle strains in the past, still appeared to be guarded in his running since his return from a calf strain. According to the Chicago Sun-Times on May 27, Soriano confided in Lou Piniella just days prior that he didn't have "confidence" in running aggressively for fear of re-injury.
The best-record-in-baseball Cubs should not be too worried about Soriano and may actually come to view this temporary setback as a blessing in disguise.