It seems to happen every spring, whether it’s Brendan Ryan’s wrist, David Freese’s ankle, or Danny Cox falling off a 3-foot sea wall. This year is no different, but some consequences are more ominous than others.
Players have been in camp barely a week, but we’ve already had 3 men felled by injury.
1. Jim Edmonds. Granted he never made it to camp, but he did sign a minor league deal with a camp invitation. Turned out his Achillies tendon damage is too great, and the risk of permanent injury too high, to support the 40-year old’s return to St Louis. Edmonds retired on Friday. Start your HOF writing campaign in earnest, because he’ll need the help.
2. Nick Punto. Punto is out for 2-3 months due to an abdominal hernia that will require surgery to repair. Because Nick was slotted as a utility player for 2011, his loss is tough but certainly one the team can recover from. The Cardinals have several in-house options to fill Punto’s shoes (Allen Craig, Tyler Greene, and Dan Descalso to name 3).
Initially I was pissed when I heard about this. Punto missed all but 8 games the last 2 months of last season with a groin strain. He passed his pre-contract physical, however. Now this, plus Friday he described the groin problem as ‘nagging’ in Derrick Gould’s article. Did St Louis’ crack medical staff screw another diagnosis up, a la Mark Mulder and Scott Rolen?
Possibly not. Wikipedia describes this sports hernia as something that cannot be found on a physical exam or with medical imaging (which I assume means MRI). So my urge to kill is falling…falling…gone. Based on the nature of the injury it is entirely possible he had recurrent groin pain he couldn’t pinpoint, and the doctors couldn’t find. The Wikipedia article quoted above talks about 6 to 8 weeks of rest are needed in order for the thing to heal itself; based on how the Twins rehabbed him, I don’t think he ever got enough time to heal last season (hence the nagging). He probably shut it down long enough this off-season (or maybe not; Type-A personalities are terrible patients), but during the resumption of activities this spring he re-aggravated.
So a frustrating turn of events, but again recoverable.
3. Adam Wainwright. The Sky really Is Falling if Adam has torn his elbow tendon. I do not need to tell you how big a loss this would be. When you find yourself using ‘Ian Snell’ and ‘needs to be good’ in the same sentence, that’s a serious problem.
Most of us, including me, looked upon the Cardinal starting rotation as the team’s strength for 2011. Look at it again. Wainwright might be out the whole season. Carpenter, Lohse, and Westbrook have significant injury history. Garcia is only 2 years removed from Tommy John surgery. They suddenly look a whole lot more brittle than they did 4 days ago.
Not to be Chicken Little, but without Edmonds we’ll be fine. Without Punto we’ll be fine. Without Wainwright, making a serious run at winning the Division is probably out of reach, and getting in via the Wild Card will be a challenge as well.