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Doctor says Encarnacion's eye injury is 'worst trauma I've seen'

ST. LOUIS -- The damage a foul ball did to Juan Encarnacion's left eye was the worst the St. Louis Cardinals'
medical director has ever seen to a baseball player.

Dr. George Paletta was not optimistic Sunday that the outfielder
will regain full vision after his frightening injury and resume his
career.

"It's the worst trauma I've seen. Absolutely," Paletta said,
adding that the future holds no guarantees. "You hope the best for
Juan, but he suffered a severe injury with a very guarded
prognosis.

"It's way too early to say whether he will or he won't, and if
he doesn't what percentage of vision loss he may have."

Paletta said the eye socket was essentially crushed on impact,
comparing the injured area to the disintegration of an egg shell or
ice cream cone, and that the optic nerve had sustained severe
trauma. Reconstructive surgery may not take place for several days
while doctors wait for swelling to subside.

Paletta said there was no rupture to the eyeball.

Encarnacion, who is in the second year of a three-year free
agent contract, crumpled to the grass after being struck while
waiting to pinch hit in the on-deck circle in the sixth inning on
Friday. He remained hospitalized with a concussion and multiple
fractures to the eye socket.

Encarnacion, 31, was still experiencing headaches and nausea,
preventing his release. Paletta said a positive sign was that the
outfielder's vision had improved some, although he anticipated that
progress would be slow.

"So at this point we keep our fingers crossed, say a prayer for
him and make sure he's getting the best treatment he can get,"
Paletta said.

With heavy hearts, the Cardinals swept the Reds in a three-game
weekend series. Rick Ankiel hit a go-ahead grand slam later in the
inning after Encarnacion was injured, and several hours after Scott Rolen went on the 15-day disabled list with a season-ending
shoulder injury.

The Cardinals beat the Reds 3-2 on Sunday.

"Juan's situation is really hard on the team, and Scott's
situation is tough," Jim Edmonds said. "No one is going to feel
sorry for us, so we have to play."

Encarnacion missed the first 1½ months recovering from wrist
surgery and hit .283 with nine homers and 47 RBIs. He had an
18-game hitting streak from May 30-June 18 and batted cleanup 35
times, mostly against left-handed pitchers.