A broken Pujols is usually looked at by a proctologist, but we'll make due here
Photo Credit: Djh57
When fantasy baseball’s perennial No. 1 overall draft pick gets hurt, it warrants a special injury report from yours truly. Devastating news for the Cardinals and fantasy owners surfaced today when Albert Pujols, God’s gift to baseball, suffered a non-displaced left distal radius fracture and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. I’m here to tell you it might be longer than that and I’ll tell you why after the jump.
By now I’m sure you’ve seen highlights of the injury a million times. Pujols collided with a base runner making at play at first base yesterday, and the injury was initially ruled a sprained wrist. Unfortunately, more advanced imaging revealed a non-displaced (the fractured ends are in proper alignment and not separated – a good thing) fracture of the left distal radius. The radius is one of the two forearm bones; it’s easy to feel, just make a thumbs-up sign and follow your thumb right along the bone in your forearm – that’s your radius. The “distal” part of the radius is the part furthest from the center of the body, aka the part that connects to the wrist. The radius is the most commonly broken bone in the arm and is typically seen when someone falls on an outstretched wrist/hand (this sort of fracture is especially common where I practice in Rochester, NY where our harsh winters cause people to fall on ice).
A fractured radius, like most bones in the body, requires 4-6 weeks to heal, and that’s why the Cardinals have given this timeline. Fortunately for Pujols, with the fracture being non-displaced and NOT being classified as an “articular” fracture (which is a fracture that extends into the wrist joint – bad), he avoided the worst case scenario of surgical fixation. Unfortunately, Pujols will need to have supernatural recovery powers to return in the timeframe the Cards are suggesting. Pujols will be unable to mobilize (move) his wrist until the bone is healed, he will wear a cast for protection as well. Wearing a cast for 4-6 weeks is not good for the soft tissue in the wrist and hand, to say he will be stiff when the cast is removed is an understatement. Pujols will need to rehab vigorously once the cast is removed to regain the lost range of motion and strength in the wrist and hand. Once he regains his mobility, then he’ll be cleared to begin baseball activities. He will almost certainly need a few games in the minors to test it out, and such a long layoff will undoubtedly mess up his timing at the plate as well. With the injury occurring to his left arm, the bottom hand on the bat, it may even detract from his power a bit until he feels comfortable. Pujols has such tremendous power it might not affect him too much, but there will be a hangover effect here as Pujols’ wrist adjusts to the rigors of hitting.
To further complicate matters, Pujols also reports pain the shoulder as well. MRI results came back clean, which is good news, but guess what, Jason Heyward’s MRI’s were clean too, and how’d that work out? I’m not suggesting Pujols shoulder will require surgery or an extended DL stay because of his shoulder, it’s too soon to say, but it’s another factor that will slow down his rehab and could result in him missing more time. While the radius fracture should heal fine and he’ll likely show no long term effects from the injury, the shoulder issue could linger and is worth keeping an eye on.
Blah blah blah Don get to the point, what’s all that crap mean for us as fantasy owners? Well, I’m bumping up his recovery time to 6-8 weeks instead of the 4-6 weeks being reported. Not only that, but he’ll likely need a few weeks to get back into the swing of things (bad pun intended) and hit the way we’re accustomed to Albert Pujols hitting. I see him returning to the field in mid to late August, and not hitting up to his standards until the calendar flips to September. He might be a decent buy-low for H2H owners as he could easily be his usual self in time for your playoff run, but essentially you’re looking at around six weeks of Albert Pujols in your fantasy lineups for the remainder of 2011. Buy, sell or hold with that in mind.
As always, any questions can be dropped in the comments section, hope you learned something kids!
Past Injury Analysis
T.Hanson, J.Lowrie, D.Barney, A.Craig, J.Johnson, B.Lyon [Hurtin' Hillbillies]
M.Prado, J.Morneau, J.Kubel, K.McClellan, A.Soriano, B.Belt [Prado is Dirty]
Rafael Furcal [Furcal is Injured Again? No Way]
Buster Posey, Wandy Rodriguez [Busted]
Josh Johnson [JJ Sleeps with the Fishes]
Chipper, Sizemore, Beachy, Wright and Lackey [Glass Twins]
J.Broxton, B.Lyon and D.Aardsma [Unholy Trinity]
This is crazy....out of nowhere, he is now supposed to be back around the all-star break? Really? Maybe the robot comments before were correct...or am I reading too much into the irrational exuberance?
Well Tom, it's not totally irrational to believe that Pujols could return around the All-Star break, although I'll believe it when I see it. What we must always keep in mind when trying to prognosticate recovery times is that teams have no real incentive to divulge all the information about a player's injury. This is especially true in football where you have teams like the Patriots who mark the entire roster as questionable to confuse opponents, but baseball teams do it too.
The information available at the time of his injury was a non-displaced distal radius fracture, a fairly common injury with a fairly consistent timeline for healing. There are multiple factors that could affect the recovery time, one of which is the sheer size of the fracture. With recent news reports stating Pujol's CT scan showed a "diminished fissue" (meaning the fracture or crack in the bone is getting smaller/healing), my guess here is that the fracture was very small to begin with, which is perhaps why it was missed initially on x-rays. The smaller the fracture, the less bone growth needed to heal it, and thus less recovery time.
Could Pujols be back by the All-Star break? I suppose so, that's right around the 4 week marker, the minimum healing time for bone (for humans, not baseball destroying cyborgs). But just because his CT scan showed HEALING doesn't mean the bone is completely HEALED yet. Until it's completely healed I can't see them allowing him to swing a bat, so he's not out of the woods just yet. To see healing this soon is a bit unexpected and a great sign, he might not be human after all, and I'll accordingly lower my projected timeline to 4-6 weeks. He'll still need to get the soft tissue in the wrist loosened up and probably need some rehab games. Hope this helps!
@donnypump Awesome insight. It's possible some are overstating it given that there will be time + healing where he'll need to swing the bat, strengthen, and get the timing back. As MDS said, you're the man Donny. We all appreciate the perspective and detailed explanation.
Cardinals GM in radio interview says that the initial 4-6 week timeline is a bit too optimistic for Pujols, he's expecting more like 6-7 weeks. I hate being right all (most) the time...
I apologize for a couple of grammatical errors, long day at work and a few beers down the hatch makes for a tired physical therapist...