Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No Shoulder To Cry On

So Chad Cordero's out. It's an acute tear of the latissimus dorsi muscle.

What's that mean? His shoulder hurts. The lat is a big muscle that covers a good chunk of your back and side. Here's a handy picture, and you can pretty easily see why a tear there would make a pitcher cry. If you remember last night, when the trainer came out, that's right about where Chad pointed: the area under the armpit. If you look at the bottom picture there, you can see what that particular muscle is important: it helps move the ol' arm, connecting to not-so humerus.

Now, there's no surgery required. And it's described as acute, which means basically small/short in a medical context. So, in one way of looking at it, it's just a realllllly bad strain.

So what about other guys who've had the same injury? What's the prognosis? Well, pretty good, actually.

I broke out the ol' google-fu and tried to see what I could find. First, I couldn't really find any other MLB pitchers who've been diagnosed with a full tear. Doesn't mean it hasn't happened I just didn't find it.

But I've found quite a few other pitchers who've dealt with strains, and quite a few other pitchers who came back relatively normal.

The most prominent example is Ben Sheets. (Alarm bells ringing now? Don't worry!) Sheets went down with a strain late in '05, and missed the final month or two of the year. Sheets was ready the next spring, although he didn't pitch particularly well before succumbing to croup, gout, dropsy, scabies or whatever old-tyme maladies befall him on a weekly basis.

Pedro Martinez missed a month in May '03 with a strain. He ended up with 180+ innings of 2.22 ERA ball. Sign me up!

Rich Harden has battled it (among other things) off and on for basically ever. Put him under the Sheets Alarm Bell category.

Brian Fuentes lost his job as the Rockies closer last year as a mid-season bout with a lat problem cost him velocity and movement (hey, that sound familiar!). He pitched beautifully down the stretch last year and is pleasing those people who were smart enough to pick him up off the waiver wire in their roto league this year -- especially those stupid people who paid waaaaaaay tooooo much for Chad Cordero on their stupid feckin' team!!! Sorry... got carried away there.

Curt Schilling missed a few starts late in '03. I think he's done pretty well since!

Jake Peavy had a bunch of problems attributable (but not actually diagnosed, that I could find) to a lat strain in '05; he finished with 30 starts and a 2.88 ERA.

Closer to home, Micah Bowie went down last year with it, only to never be seen again. (Anyone checked behind the barn?)

So a death sentence? Not apparently.

The only cause for concern is whether the lat strain was caused by him compensating for a different part of his shoulder barking. I noticed that his arm angle was dropping quite a bit in that final game. Is that because the lat was bugging him, or was he compensating for a different injury. If it's the different injury will the time off help that recover too? And will he be able to do those strengthening exercises Dr. Andrews gave him for the shoulder tendinitis if his lat won't let him move? Damned if I know.

But I don't feel quite as bad as I did when I first saw the story this afternoon.

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