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Friday, April 1, 2011
Cardinals may be optimistic about Holliday

The blows just keep coming for the St. Louis Cardinals when it comes to injuries. The latest player to succumb to an ailment is outfielder Matt Holliday, fresh off his Opening Day home run. Holliday, who began experiencing abdominal discomfort after Thursday's game, underwent appendectomy surgery Friday.

Matt Holliday
Matt Holliday hit a homer on Opening Day but is now on the shelf after an appendectomy.

The team has issued no timetable for his return at this point but there are several variables which can factor into the recovery.

First, the type of surgery performed can have a significant impact on the time to heal. Laparoscopic procedures, now performed with increasing frequency, are less invasive than the more traditional "open" procedure. The incisions are smaller (typically one-quarter to one-half inch in size) and the surgeon uses a camera (laparoscope) inserted through one of the incisions to view the abdominal cavity while performing the procedure. There is typically less discomfort and a quicker healing time associated with this version of the surgery.

Second, the condition of the appendix at the time of surgery can impact recovery. A severely inflamed or ruptured appendix would result in significant abdominal inflammation. A minor case of appendicitis in a healthy younger male would suggest less inflammation and therefore a quicker healing time. Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak did note this was not an emergency appendectomy. "I think they caught it early, so I think that's good news," Mozeliak said.

The ultimate determinant is how Holliday's own body tends to heal. Holliday has shown himself to be generally healthy across his career, which favors a quicker recovery. For comparables, the Cardinals need look only within the league at a player who underwent a similar procedure late last season, San Francisco Giants outfielder Andres Torres. Torres had laparoscopic surgery on Sept. 12, 2010. Six days later he was jogging. Nine days after surgery, he was swinging a bat. And 13 days post-op, Torres was back in the starting lineup for the Giants.

Presuming the variables for Holliday are similar to those for Torres and assuming there are no post-surgical setbacks, the Cardinals can be optimistic about their outfielder's return.