There are many terms in the English language that can only mean bad news. We all know what “cable deregulation” has brought us. And don’t even get me started on “health care reform.” And then there is the world of sports.
Just as the words “dance club” followed by an athlete’s name is going to make you cringe, the same fear grips fans when they hear the terms “torn labrum” and “knee scope.” Welcome to Anatomy 101, Dodgers fans. And welcome to biting your nails come February of 2013.
The list of Dodgers going under the knife with highly questionable outcomes is growing like Kim Kardashian’s ass. Since the season ended, the Dodgers have reported the following:
- Outfielder Matt Kemp had surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator damage in his shoulder. Kemp most likely suffered the damage in late August when he ran hard into a wall while chasing down a fly ball at Colorado. Kemp’s return by spring training is in doubt though his return to the night life is back up to 100%.
- Catcher A.J Ellis left knee arthroscopic surgery last Friday, 10/5. His surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, called it a “clean up procedure.” Another bad term.
- Pitcher Chad Billingsley went on the DL with an inflamed elbow at the end of August. They are trying injections to heal the elbow without surgery. If they do not work, Billingsley will need Tommy John surgery which translates to him being lost for the 2013 season.
- The $42 million dollar prospect, Yasiel Puig, a Cuban player who has yet to play a minute in a big league game, developed a staph infection in his elbow. He will not be able to play winter ball but will be invited to spring training with a chance to make the roster. Most say 2014 is the likely year he will debut in the majors.
- Starter Ted Lilly underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder back on 9/21. He too is not expected back until the spring.
Of all the injuries, Kemp’s might be the most unsettling one. After the surgery, doctors reported the damage was “worse than they expected.” No one knows if he will be ready for the season opener, let alone spring training. Could Kemp’s much hyped career be over?
If Kemp were a pitcher, the odds of a full recovery would be only about 20%(the success rate following Tommy John surgery is closer to 85%). One study focused on 36 pitchers who suffered a torn labrum between 1998 and 2003. Only one, a middle reliever named Rocky Biddle, was able to return to the form he had before the surgery.
The biggest question is how Kemp’s swing will be affected. It is possible the power and speed may never be what it was. Even in fiction, the shoulder injury is always ugly. Whenever a baseball movie has the character of a player whose career ended way too soon, an injured shoulder seems to be the “go to” ailment that explains his end. If Hollywood reflects life, Kemp’s ending could come before the final credits roll.