gods-wrathAfter his late night revelation that he’d broken the hamate bone in his wrist, everyone went into a feverish tailspin of despair about big-time Cubs outfield prospect Albert Almora. The despair lasted only a few minutes, since we live in the Internet age, and everyone can either assuage their fears with a simple Google search … or terrify themselves further.

Fortunately, we’re mostly assuaged. The Cubs do not consider Almora’s injury serious, although it will keep him out of action completely for three to four weeks. From there, he’ll have to get ready for the season, so he’s not likely to make his debut – probably at Kane County – until late May.

I think Cubs fans are uniquely prone to freak outs about wrist injuries these days because (1) we remember Derek Lee’s wrist injury, and the fact that he was never the same after it; and (2) Ian Stewart has been dealing with a lingering wrist issue for years, which may have fundamentally changed the player he could have been. But, the thing is, Lee’s broken wrist was, like, a very seriously broken wrist (in two places), not just a broken hamate bone, and Stewart’s wrist issue has been something of a medical mystery, now believed to be related to pieces of bone and calcifications that doctors missed for years. In other words, the two big red flag wrist things in recent years for Cubs fans don’t really apply here.

As we discussed last night, hamate bone injuries are not uncommon in baseball, and they can come either from an errant pitch or from a swing. Almora’s was the swing variety, apparently, which suggests a kind of repetitive stress injury. Yes, that sounds slightly more worrisome than getting hit by a pitch, but medical science has evolved to the point where, if the hamate bone keeps causing a guy problems, it can be removed.

The success rate in returning from hamate injuries – it’s weird to even call it a “wrist” injury, given that the hamate bone, to me, looks like it’s more in the bottom of the hand than in the top part of the wrist – seems pretty high in the last five, six years. Domonic Brown may have had some lingering issues (or he just struggled with big league pitching), but Nick Markakis, Pablo Sandoval, Troy Tulowitzki, and Dustin Pedroia, for example, have all returned from hamate bone injuries within the same season, and picked right up where they left off.

There are far worse wrist injuries out there.

At bottom, it sucks that this happened. It sucks that it happened to Almora. And it sucks that his development might be delayed slightly. But this probably isn’t a serious thing, it probably isn’t going to be a lingering issue, and it probably doesn’t delay his actual arrival time line – if he makes it to the bigs – by any appreciable time.

  • Spriggs

    It doesn’t sound too bad, but since it’s a Cubs injury, you should tack on at least another 2 weeks. Minimum. Might this give Dunston, Martin, or Crawford a chance to advance?

    • Cedlandrum

      Definitely a yes for the first 2. Crawford I have to believe will go to Boise unless he is tearing it up this spring.

  • Cory

    Not sure if its been posted but Starling Perelta is coming back from the D-backs

    • RoughRider

      I just read the same thing on another site but not confirmed anywhere.

  • The Dude Abides

    Almora will be fine he’s only 18 yrs old and years away from possibly contributing to any major league team.

  • Don

    Hope Almora is fine as I just got his autograph. He really looked good in batting practice and was crushing the baseball.

  • Noah

    Wait, I’m curious about the math on this. If Almora is likely to miss 3-4 weeks, wouldn’t he be making his debut in late April? I’m not sure if you’re thinking they’ll send him to extended for a bit or if this is late night having a new baby fog.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No baseball activity for three to four weeks, and then ramps back up for a debut in late May. I guess that’s built-in time to get back into game shape (since he’ll have missed most of Spring Training). That’s the story from the Cubs, anyway.

      • Spriggs

        Wow. Somehow, I didn’t make the connection with the “late May” estimate and must have just focused on the “3 to 4 weeks” part. So we are talking about him missing 2 1/2 months until he will play in a game? This has already turned into a Cub injury. Dammit.

        • Hansman1982

          Eh, I figured he’d spend may in ExST and show up in KC June 1.

        • http://www.wavesoftalent.webs.com tim815

          Six weeks procedure/recovery, and a few weeks to get in game shape. Another reason to mind Mesa.

  • DarthHater

    Theo wastes a first round draft pick on a guy who gets injured. Another failure for the boy genius. 😛

  • Bren

    Isn’t the hamate bone pretty much vestigial anyway?

    • Spriggs

      Absolutely. sniff.

      • King Jeff

        Did you get yours taken out and are feeling nostalgic?

        • DarthHater

          No, he’s allergic to the word “vestigial.”

          • Spriggs

            Exactly right – as usual!

    • King Jeff

      Usually, it’s different for different people. It could be problematic because of the amount of stress baseball players put on their wrists with each swing. Removing it has had mixed results, but so has putting a cast on and letting it heal.

  • Andy

    Not accurate to call Derrek Lee’s injury a wrist injury. He broke radius and ulna, which are bones of the forearm. The wrist is the joint between hand and arm which provides motion at that joint. The hamate is in a good place for recovery because there is a lot of blood supply to flow through that location.

    • Cubbie Blues

      A clarification on Lee’s injury. The it was the distal radial and distal ulna bones. It is commonly referred to as a wrist injury because of the close proximity to the wrist joint.

      • Andy

        Right. And being distal radius and ulna, he lost some of the stability to his forearm. Almira’s injury is in a support bone in the wrist. It is not vestigial by any means, but he can play baseball after it heals just fine. Or it can be removed, and it won’t matter much

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Appreciate the information, but, for the purposes here, it doesn’t matter how a doctor would classify Lee’s injury, because that isn’t the point. The point is that some Cubs fans overreact when they hear “wrist injury” because of the negative experience with Lee’s injury, which was always called a “wrist injury.”

      • Andy

        It does matter. Overreaction is bred by not know. If fans are able to distinguish between Lee’s very serious forearm injury, and Almora’s wrist injury, which is common, fear of the consequence of it may be alleviated, to an extent.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That’s already the distinction this post makes. That’s all I’m saying.

          • Andy

            Brett, I think you’re misunderstanding my intent, which is not to argue with your post, but to clarify the difference between Lee, Stewart, and Almora. We have the same goal of talking fellow fans off the ledge. You do a fine job of it, but I have a background in sports medicine that allows me to be a bit more detailed. I apologize of you think I’m stepping on your toes. That is the furthest thing from my intention

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              No worries in the least – my responses today have been super short, so I also don’t mean to come off as argumentative. You’re offering good, useful information. I just wanted to underscore that I was trying to make the same point as you, in a different way (like you said, less detailed). The primary point from my perspective is, “Cubs fans hear ‘wrist injury’ (legit or not) and they think of past terrible ‘wrist injuries’ (whether they were actually wrist injuries or not), and they panic. But Derek Lee’s injury, whatever we call it, was much more serious than this injury.”

              We’re on the same page, you’re just offering more details. Which is fine-a-roo.

              • Andy

                Amen, brother.

    • Cubbie Blues


      • Cubbie Blues

        Let’s try again.

  • Dustin S

    Just my opinion, but I always felt like DLee’s decline had more to with personal problems surrounding his daughter’s health issues. It’s totally understandable; I know I would have trouble mentally focusing on my work and especially a profession like baseball if my child were going through that. His wrist problems definitely contributed though too.

    On Almora, I guess it’s better that it happen now than mid-2015 when he might be roaming Wrigley. He’s so far off yet that that there should be very minimal impact really unless there are complications. If I were to really stretch, it might a little weight to the side of the FO going with a position player over a pitcher for the 1st round draft pick. But that’s probably reading far too much into it.

  • Spencer

    Forgive me if I’m not sold on the Cubs’ definition of a “serious injury”

  • Spriggs

    So Bruce Miles says he is having the bone removed… like Sandoval. That true?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If Bruce says it, I believe him.

  • Fastball

    Just slightly less painful than a penis reduction. He will be back soon.