Friday, March 04, 2011

Warts and All

There is an old expression that you can take someone or something "warts and all." Apparently that's no longer the case. Brian Matusz, the promising pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, has become the second player (that we know of) that is missing time this spring due to a wart. A while back, Michael Cuddyer of the Twins was said to miss at least two weeks of Spring Training because he had to have a wart removed from his foot. The Fan isn't making light of the problem. It's just odd, isn't it?

Every year we seem to have a fashionable injury. A couple of years ago there was the hip injury that afflicted Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley and Mike Lowell. Last year and heading into this year, we've seen a rash of calf strains. While some of these new maladies become fashionable, others remain fairly consistent and others seem to fall by the wayside.

Thankfully, concussion syndrome is in the news more than every before. Certainly, we aren't thankful that concussion are occurring, only in that they are being reported and treated. In the past, the only time we even heard about concussions in baseball was when a player got seriously beaned. But baseball is getting smarter that this is a dangerous injury and needs to be treated as such.

Another injury that is much more heard about than in the past is the torn meniscus in the knee. Perhaps in the past all knee injuries were lumped together. Now we separate them into torn ACL's and torn meniscus. We started hearing about the ACL tears, which are much more serious than meniscus tears, which are more painful than debilitating. C. C. Sabathia is just one who had an off season operation for such an injury. Juan Castro was just diagnosed with a torn meniscus and will miss a chunk of time now.

Before the year 2000, this writer never heard of a any player getting a calf strain. Perhaps the Fan just wasn't listening. Now we hear them a lot. Adrian Beltre has a calf strain. The hip problem only came up once a decade or so before the trio mentioned earlier in this post. Albert Belle was one. Bo Jackson was another. But can you think of any other player sidelined with a hip problem before those two? The Fan can't.

Of course the Tommy John surgery is in vogue more than ever. The percentage of pitchers that have had the operation must be getting near 10 percent or higher. It's gotten to the point where you feel better about a pitcher who has had the operation than those that haven't. We picture it almost as bionics. While the elbow problem can now be fixed, we don't hear about shoulder bursitis as much as we used to. Shoulder injuries don't seem as previlent as the elbow injury. The most likely reason for that is that in the past, an elbow blowout meant you were done where a shoulder problem at least gave you a fighting chance. Shoulder conditioning is probably much more sophisticated than it used to be. Actually, shoulder tendinitis is much more heard than rotator cuffs and bursitis. Those latter two were heard much more often in the past.

Some of these new injury descriptions are a result of the glut of reporting in our instant media age. In the past, we may have just read that a certain player was hurting and would be out for a while. Now, there are instant reports and even the doctors have news conferences. Twitter gives instant updates on a player's condition and what the team has announced about the injury. But even today a guy like Francisco Cervelli can confound team doctors and have an injury that requires much more study. Or perhaps that's just a smokescreen to get Montero in the line up. Who knows. But we've never had injury reporting like it is now. It is comprehensive, instantaneous and is giving us all an education in anatomy. Yes, even down to the warts and all.

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