Good morning everyone and welcome to the injury chat. Football is now officially over- but there are plenty of injuries to go around in all of the other sports so we'll get to your questions.
Hello Stephania! What can you tell us about Ryan Zimmerman's wrist? Will he be fully healed and hit for power...or will the injury linger and sap his power? Thanks!
Turtle: It sounds as if we should expect Zimmerman to fully recover from this procedure and return to form hitting. Whether he is 100% by spring training is unknown, although the team is hopeful. Initially he had some blood that built up in the wrist after surgery which they had to go back and remove, but since then, he has been doing well and is on track to return strong.
What's your thoughts on Pujols? How often do you think he'll hit the DL this year with that elbow?
Hi Nate: Well, if I tried to guess how often he'll hit the DL, I 'll definitely be wrong. One interesting thing about these injuries, and it seems to be especially true in baseball, is htat guys can have what look to be major problems - bone spurs, bad rotator cuffs, frayed tendons - and then they play, they keep going, and for whatever reason they don't have disabling pain. Pujols hasobviously been dealing with the elbow for a while, and although he doesn't have full range of motion, which isnot ideal, it doesn;t necessarily mean he misses time. Now if something sets off inflammation (getting hit, overuse, etc), then it oculd be bad enough to be disabling. So what does that mean for fans an fantasy owners? A lot of uncertainty. High upside when healthy - but increased risk that he has to back off intermittently during the season. OK - I'll put it at two trips to the DL. If there ends up being a third, I expect he won't come back without some type of procedure.
What is Ulnar neuritis
Hi Pete: Ulnar neuritis is inflammation of the ulnar nerve. The nerve runs along the medial or inner side of the arm, and runs underneath the bony prominence on the inside of the elbow so it comes very near the surface. When you bump your elbow hard and hit your funny bone and get the tingling into your fingers, that's the ulnar nerve that got bumped. It goes to the 4th and 5th fingers. Pitchers often have trouble with the inside of the elbow and end up with irritation or inflammation to this nerve.
plain and simple: is Papi's knee surgery going to affect him this season? afterall, he is 32.
Brad: How depressing when 32 means you're old! But, in baseball years, it does mean you're getting up there. And Big Papi is, well, big, which means his joints take a little more toll than the next guy. That being said, the procedure to remove the torn meniscus should work wonders to alleviate the pain and stiffness he had in the knee associated with the meniscus catching. It is true that we expect joint degeneration to perhaps ccur more quickly after pieces of meniscus are removed, but that does not happen necessarily - and it doesn't happen right away. Bottom line - this season should be a good one. Down the line - maybe more knee problems, or he could always have a new injury this year. But based on this procedure, no worries headed into spring.
So Mark Prior? Is this the year?
Whiz: This could be a very good year for Prior. He did his best to rehab his arm conservatively and it never could improve. Now he's had a surgical procedure to clean up a lot of the damage he incurred from pitching, he has been on an intensive rehab program and he is feeling good. He's going to a pitcher's park and he's rejuvenated. Plus, all the effort he put into prior rehab (no pun intended) has to pay off in terms of prepping him for this. The shoulder is not perfect, and his mechanics may influence how well he holds up, but this is the best prospect for a season he's had in a long time.
Hi Steph, in your opinion, will KG be out until after the All-Star break?...Perhaps longer?..
Hi Brad: There's a reason they keep saying no timetable for his return. These deep abdominal injuries are really tough to predict. And I'm not a ton of help b/c without seeing him first hand, it's hard to pick up the nuances of whether he's actualy making small improvements in how he feels day to day. What I will say is that these injuries are very easily aggravated, so when Doc Rivers says he will not play him until he's 100%, I believe it. Normally even a mild strain will take a couple of weeks. I would not count on him returning until after the All-Star Break, but unfortunately we are stuck waiting to see what he does in practice to get a better clue.
Stephania, Goddess of all that is Injured. Can you give us any insite to the Shaq injury? Is it an injury he can play thru or is it something that he needs to get fully healed b4 he will be able to play again? Also, what are your thoughts on the recent trade?
Hi Edward: I'm glad you asked. I did a full piece on Shaq so I won't reiterate it all here (go to fantasy blogs, it's posted there) - but I think he can play without being 100%, it will be a question of balance. Motivation in a new place doesn't hurt his recovery either. Check out my piece for more detail on my thoughts related to him - thanks!
Stephania...wouldn't the Cubs have offered Prior arbitration if he was really healthy? I mean 3 million for a semi-healthy Prior would be a no brainer for them right?
Mike: It's a reaosnable question - but you know, sometimes after a player has gone down an extended injury path, there are a number of reasons for the player and the team to part ways. Sometimes it even has to do with how each side views what the medical care plan is, prognosis, etc. I believe that Prior wanted a change of venue, and his desire for a one year contract tells me he thinks he will have a good year, which often has much to do with how the year will actually go. Obviously only time will tell - and like I said, once damaged, the shoulder can never really be considered 100%. But there are a lot of guys out there pitching well with shoulders that aren't 100% - and Andrews did his surgery, he has a great rehab team. I just think he has a lot more reason to be optimistic.
Stephania, Joel Zumaya is out until at least June after being injured for much of last season. Do you think he'll ever be able to provide 100 m.p.h. pitches and solid numbers again?
Mike: Zumaya has had a bad stretch, hasn't he? Last year the finger tendon, this year he hurts his shoulder in the off-season. The procedure he underwent (AC joint reconstruction) is not small. Certainly one can return to throwing, but tere is the possibility that the hsoulder is stiff, that his mechanics are affected, etc. I'm not confident that he returns to the same speed (he could, I just am not betting the house on it), but I still think he can pitch effectively. I'm not counting on super impressive numbers this season (he won'e likely return until after All-Star Break anyway) - but if he's on an up trend late, then I would expect better things a year later.
Stephania, answer my question or I will tell TMR to fire you. Larry Fitz recently said he may want to be traded to Philly: Would you trade for him with his history of injuries and have you heard anything about him moving teams?
Ben: Now you know that TMR has tried many times unsuccessfully to fire me...but I will answer your question anyway. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cards I assume? I had not heard the Philly rumblings, but I have heard recently that his contract talks with Arizona are going very well. They want to keep him around. I don't think his injury pattern is unusual. Wide receivers suffer the muscle strains - that is common - he's had hamstring, groin injuries - but look, he's always come back solid, and is in great shape. No long-term worries yet with him.
I haven't heard anything about Gilbert Arenas in awhile. What's does his time table look like?
Hi Andy: Latest buzz I've heard is that he is likely to return after the All-Star break - still looks like a reasonable timetable. We should get some more updates in the next week.
Can you fill us in on what is going on with Mike Hampton? As a Braves fan, I've been hoping he could return for several years now.
Hi JB: Boy, here's a guy who has some bad collagen (bad tissue as we say) and some really bad luck. He hasn't had a full season since who knows when, hasn't ptiched in a game since 2005, and after getting over arm problems, hurt his hamstring in winter ball this year. Supposedly the hamstring is better. Atlanta says he is fully healthy headed into 2008. Hmmm. At 35, it does not necessarily bode well for injury risk. I am hopeful for his sake that he will return, but he is going to have to prove he can stay healthy for a period of time, and I think there is significant risk in that department for him.
Do you think players are more prone to injury today because their bodies don't get as much time away since they seem to always be working out and pushing themselves?
Hi David: I think the long seasons don't help, and there is a lot to be said about recovery time. Different sports have different issues when it comes to recovery, but there really is very little time for true rest. In football, the increased mass of players combined with the increased speed of the game seems to be generally accepted as a big reason for the increase in certain types of injuries. When you look at length of season, you consider the NBA, MLB as having such incredibly long seasons (and the NHL now too) - that it is hard for athletes to perform at that level for that length of time, without breaking down. And then there are just the unavoidable "accident" type injuries that would happen anyway. No "Hard" evidence, but a lot of belief in the community that what you're saying is accurate.
How are Carlos Beltran's knees, and what do you expect out of him this year?
Hi David: Well, Beltran had to have osme scar tissue removed from the patellar tendon area in his knees - and the hope is that this will actually really help prevent the severe bouts of tendinitis he suffered with last year. The fact that he had it, tells you the knees aren't perfect. But - there isn't any reason to expect anything other than a good start to the season. Haven't heard much on off-season reports for him - so will have to watch during spring training.
Stephania, What is the situation with Caron Butler? How serious is his hip flexor issue?
Hi Mike: Butler has a strained hip flexor, and it appears that a big part of the problem is that he keeps trying to go, isn;t that effective and aggravates the condition. I think after his latest forced exit on Tuesday, that maybe the Wizards will rest him until he is truly better. You need your hip flexor to run and jump - pretty hard to avoid in this sport. Probably sitting out through All-Satr break would be a wise plan for him.
Hey Steph, good morning. I was hoping you could enlighten me on Jermain O'neal and his injury status. Thanks Steph!
Hi Jason: Afraid I can't be very enlightening. I think what you've seen is the frustration of a player who feels like he has come back too soon too many times, and never really gotten back to 100%. He then threatens to remain out the whole season. Although I don't think that will happen, I do think that the Pacers will not rush him. They're saying after the All-Star Brak, while O'Neal doesn't say any real timetable. Still in wait and see mode and very hard to predict at this point.
What's your take on the Clemens saga? It seems like it is hard to trust either party.
Hi James: It is really hard to have an informed opinion when there is so much that I don't know. What I will say is that one of the benefits, hopefully, to come out of all this, is to raise the awareness of the prevalence of steroids and human growth hormone in sports. I treat a lot of teenage athletes, and trust me, they have their eye on what the pros do (or what they believe they do)and take their cues from them - often with far more serious consequences.
Stephania, how is Francisco Liriano going to hold up this year?
Hi Jeff: I have high hoped for Liriano. The timing of his surgery gave him some extra rehab time. He has looked great throwing bullpens so far. Normally it's a two year return to form (i.e. 2nd season back) after TJ surgery, but with the extra time Liriano has had, I think by the second half of this season you will see outstanding outings from him.
This offseason, there has been much hype and press coverage over the Tigers aquisitions of SS Edgar Renteria and 3B Miguel Cabrera. One name not mentioned for this '08 season has been Gary Sheffield. Last season the power hitting outfielder spent a significant time riding the bench with pain in his right shoulder. Does Gary Sheffield have a legitimate chance to play a full (healthy) season? Or does his prospects put him in a position to be moved out of Detroit with a revamped line-up in D-Town?
Jojo ticb: Sheffield had a labral injury as a result of a collision and although they tried some injections and rest, the mechanical issues from the damage never allowed him to be fully functional. Offseason surgery should have helped him significantly - as in I'm not at all worried about his shoulder. Throwing from the outfield takes a little longer to get back after this than his swing - but he's had reasonable rehab time. Yes, he is getting up there in baseball years, but I think there's plenty of power left in him.
What can you tell us about Kelvim Escobars outlook for this year.
Hi Sean: A few days ago I would have said that as long as he headed into spring training lookinghealthy, we should expect another solid season. Now he will start on the DL b/c of shoulder inflammation, which he had at the end of last season, suggesting that the offseason rest was not enough. Never like it when a pitcher STARTS on the DL b/c of the shoulder - very risky for the whole season.
Stephania, you say the young kids imitate the pros, but where would the youngsters get the substances that multi-millionaire athletes are able to? Maybe I am just naive.
Jeff: You'd be surprised. Some have $$ and get the good stuff. Some don't have much - and can get cheap, unpure stuff offshore through the mail, etc. They also share with their friends to make it cheaper, increasing the risk of disease by sharing the needles. I could go on. It really is an issue for them too. And all they need is a coach to say "If you were bigger..." (maybe innocently said, as in "lift weights, etc" but kids don't tend to think about future consequences, they want the immediate reward. It's scary.
OK everybody: Time for me to go. Thanks for all the awesome questions. Sorry I didn't get to them all. You've given me some good ideas for blog material though. Have a great weekend!!!