The Chicago Cubs DL’d pitcher Carlos Zambrano yesterday after he strained his left hamstring running out a bunt.

So how long is he actually going to be out, and what’s the deal with a “strain of the hamstring”? Well, the answers kind of suck.

“It’s a Grade 2 tear in the belly of the muscle,” Piniella said. “It’s going to be the full two weeks. Our medical team seems to think… when he’s eligible to come off the (disabled list) he’ll be able to pitch that week, whether it’s the beginning of that week or the end of that week. He’ll miss a couple turns.”

That means Zambrano should be able to start on May 19 in St. Louis, when the Cubs begin a six-game road trip. Hardball.

The Cubs don’t exactly have a history of being overly pessimistic about injuries, so I’m naturally suspicious when I hear “Grade 2 tear” and “back in two weeks” in the same sentence.

A Grade 2 strain or tear is when there is a partial tear in the muscle. It is characterized by things like – well, other than the tear – a noticeable limp, occasional sudden twinges of pain, swelling, increased pain with pressure, and then the two bad ones for a pitcher: flexing the knee against resistance causes pain, and a player may not even be able to full straighten the leg.

A trusty Google sweep indicates that the typical recovery time for a Grade 2 strain is four to six weeks, not two – although the recovery time is variable. Oh, and I’m not a doctor. Like, at all.

So that’s where I’m setting my expectations, and I suggest for your sanity, you do the same.

In the interim, the Cubs have several options to fill in for Zambrano – the currently chosen Randy Wells, as well as fellow AAA starters Mitch Atkins, Jose Ascanio, Esmailin Caridad, and Cubs bullpenners Aaron Heilman and Jeff Samardzija.

I also remain of the opinion that, assuming Zambrano comes back with no ill-effects from the hamstring injury, that this could be a blessing in disguise for Zambrano. He suffered through shoulder problems for a large chunk of last season (though he officially missed only two weeks). This injury allows Zambrano to take some early season time to rest his shoulder, and hopefully he won’t wear down in the shoulder later in the season.

  • http://www.anothercubsblog.net MB21

    From the descriptions I’ve read it sounds like it’s in between a grade 1 and 2 tear and closer to a grade 1. I have no idea though as I am not a doctor either. Lou has been rather honest with regards to injuries since he took over and Zambrano walked off the field with no help. He was up and moving around last night in the dugout. Soriano had a grade 2 tear and was helped off the field.

    • Ace

      I definitely hope you’re right, MB, but years of two-week injuries that become six-week injuries have permanently scarred me. Zambrano threw the ball already today (including a few minutes on the bullpen mound), so that’s encouraging.

  • Cardfan

    Allow me to quote the man himself (see 4/17/09 post)…

    “Well that’s a shame”…

    PS When does Denise Richard’s new album “Cubbie Luv” come out?

    • Ace

      Touche, Cardfan. Turnabout is fair play, I suppose.

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