On Monday I wrote about Danny Espinosa and his torn rotator cuff, focusing on his numbers before and after the injury. There were a few distractions in the baseball world afterwards, but I mentioned I’d get around to discussing the health implications for the season, so here we go.
Obviously, the most logical thing from the fans point of view would be to get surgery, go through recovery, and be done with the issue forever. It sounds simple enough, and it might only cost 2 months (according to most reports I’ve seen) which means if he got it today, he might be back well before the end of May.
But surgery isn’t so simple, there are always risks of complications, and the possibility of making things worse. For whatever reason, the doctors and the team seem to be confident that rehab is enough for this injury, and he doesn’t have to have surgery at this point. I tried to find examples of position players with similar injuries, and whether they had to have surgery, whether they tried to play, etc, but I came up empty.
So I reached out to Stephania Bell, who is ESPN’s injury expert and a “certified orthopedic clinical specialist and strength and conditioning specialist” which means she knows a heck alot more about this than you or I. She was kind enough to respond, for which I am very thankful. Here is what I asked, and what she said:
So that was not an unexpected answer – she hasn’t seen the injury and is too smart to make wild speculations. There is something there that makes you think it’s quite possible for Espinosa to remain healthy all season. You can’t just say a tear is a tear is a tear. There are different levels, different diagnoses, different tears. But I wanted to follow up, and see if she saw this, despite not knowing the specifics, as a major red flag. Again she was understandably noncommittal, but left some room for hope:
So there you have it. Or not. I think the point of all of this is that even if there is a database of position players injuries that we could compare this to, without knowing the extent of the injury beyond the word “tear”, there wouldn’t really be any way to know what his chances of injury are.
When I first heard about this injury, probably like alot of fans, I saw an impending re-injury and 2 month surgery rehab. I figured he should just go ahead and do the surgery now. But now I’m not so sure. It doesn’t seem to be automatic, and possibly not even probable, that this will cause a problem this year. That’s not to say it won’t, either. But at this point all you can do is trust the team and the doctors, because we’re not really coming from a position of knowledge with this, other than knowing that nothing about this injury is even close to absolute.