There was a trifecta of big-name injuries Monday, and the jury is still out on the severity of two of them. The status of Reds first baseman Joey Votto is clear; Votto is undergoing surgery Tuesday to address a torn meniscus in his left knee. I blogged about him earlier today. But in the case of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, who both exited their Monday games early due to injury and are awaiting further tests, there is little to go on just yet.
Jose Bautista, OF, Blue Jays: Bautista took one of his trademark huge swings on a foul ball in the eighth inning Monday night, then grabbed his left wrist. He then crouched, head down, clearly in pain. The medical staff came quickly to his side and escorted him off the field shortly thereafter as he held his left wrist supportively. That instinctive posture is common when an athlete suffers a fracture -- Nationals' outfielder Jayson Werth assumed the same position after breaking his left wrist in May -- but is also an automatic response when there is any significant pain or weakness in the forearm or wrist, as it helps support the limb against the pull of gravity. The Blue Jays indicated that X-rays taken at the park showed no fracture and they referred to the ailment as a "tendon injury," adding that Bautista would undergo an MRI Tuesday.
As of this writing, no specifics have been reported, but the Jays have placed Bautista on the 15-day disabled list. Anthony Gose has been called up from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace him in the lineup.
Addendum (July 18): Bautista was quite thorough in sharing with reporters what he knew about his injury late Tuesday after undergoing an MRI and consulting with the medical staff. While wearing a splint on his left wrist, Bautista explained that as he was finishing his swing, he "felt something weird" near his wrist but it was on the recoil when he felt the sharp pain, which he added was "a little scary at the time." He explained that there was "not much" structural damage but there was irritation in the wrist and it is being called a "wrist strain." As far as which tendon or other structure might have been involved, neither Bautista nor anyone else referenced anything more specific so we are left with generalities when it comes to a diagnosis. Bautista did say he would not pick up the bat for at least a couple of days and expressed hope that it would be a short-term injury. He also referenced a prior wrist injury in winter ball several years ago but noted "that was a totally different injury, it was to a ligament and it was worse." Bautista added that this injury is to a "totally different spot on the wrist and not quite as bad at all."
While Bautista's comments are certainly encouraging, naturally there is concern when it comes to the wrist of a power hitter. If there is only inflammation and the swelling resolves completely, then he should return to form quickly once he recovers from this episode. If, however, there is minor soft tissue damage that presents any sort of mechanical barrier to normal wrist motion, given the torque Bautista generates through his wrists on his swing, it could at the very least make him inconsistent at the plate. As he pointed out, he is day-to-day as of now and we won't know until he starts swinging the bat again whether there will be any lingering issues.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Ortiz was rounding the basepaths in the eighth inning Monday night when he pulled up sharply between second and third, then limped his way home. The team later indicated Ortiz injured his right Achilles tendon and is scheduled to undergo an MRI Tuesday. Ortiz showed his veteran understanding of injuries when he told reporters as he left the park that he did not hear a pop, calling that a "good sign." Generally speaking, Ortiz is correct. A pop is often associated with a more significant soft tissue injury. That said, in the absence of a complete rupture, which would be apparent immediately (see: Ryan Howard), the only way to visualize the degree of injury is via the MRI.
Ortiz dealt with heel pain last year, which was diagnosed as bursitis or inflammation of the bursa (fluid-filled sac which helps prevent friction between a tendon and the bone to which it attaches) and caused him to miss nine games. It's impossible to say without close examination whether these two incidents are definitively connected, but anatomically, the Achilles tendon does overlay the bursa at the back of the heel. They are two distinct structures, but clearly inflammation or damage in one area has the potential to relate to issues in adjacent structures, even indirectly. Ortiz also had soreness in his left heel earlier this year, although he did not miss any time. Neither Ortiz nor manager Bobby Valentine expects a lengthy absence from this episode, but there has been no official timetable yet. The hope has to be that this apparently minor injury is not a signal of something bigger lurking around the corner.
Addendum (July 18): ESPNBoston.com reported that his MRI showed no evidence of a significant tear. However,
Ortiz is in a walking boot and has been placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to July 17.