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Poor Ryan Ludwick barely got a taste of regular-season play before being forced onto the DL for what will be a protracted period. The Cincinnati Reds outfielder dislocated his right shoulder on a headfirst slide into third base on Opening Day and did enough damage to warrant surgery.
He underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn right labrum. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, manager Dusty Baker offered an initial timeline of approximately 13 to 14 weeks. A quick glance at the calendar confirms that the projected return date coincides with the All-Star break, meaning the team does not plan on having him until the second half of the season.
Baker reminded folks that everyone heals at a different rate and that this is just an estimate. True. Expect it to take even longer. Consider what Ludwick will need to be able to do to return to play, given that the injury is to his dominant arm. He will need to regain full range of motion in order to be able to extend his glove arm to the side and overhead. He will need to be able to swing the bat effectively and with power, something which may be slow to return. And Ludwick will have to demonstrate that he can make dive without hesitation, whether that be for baserunning purposes or reacting on a defensive play.
Given that there can be range of motion delays post-surgery with this type of injury, in part due to the need to protect the repair in the early phase, it often takes months for an athlete to return. Even with full range of motion, strength gains are often slow and gradual, especially in the outer ranges. While the details of Ludwick's injury are not immediately available, fantasy owners should proceed as if he may not be available for some time beyond the original projection.
Note: This entry has been updated to reflect the fact that Ludwick's injury is to his non-throwing arm.