Injury updates: Bruce, Cain, Kershaw
To the DL
Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati Reds (left knee): Bruce will have surgery this week to repair a partially torn meniscus in his left knee and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, a baseball source told ESPN.com. The timetable seems reasonable, presuming this is technically a procedure to remove the small portion of torn meniscus (as opposed to undergoing a more substantial repair which would require several months’ recovery).
It’s important to remember that much depends on the exact size and location of the tear as well as his overall knee health prior to surgery. Consider that Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis underwent surgery for a similar procedure in early April and is still having discomfort with running, four weeks later. First baseman Joey Votto, Bruce’s teammate, suffered a torn meniscus in June 2012 while sliding into third base. That injury ultimately required two surgical procedures and almost two months on the DL. There is no reason to fear the worst with Bruce; it is just a simple reminder that recovery times are always variable, and until we see him comfortably resuming baseball activities, we should not assume an automatic return date.
Matt Cain, SP, San Francisco Giants (right finger): It’s not so easy to make a sandwich. Just ask Cain, who sliced his index finger while trying to do precisely that. For those trying to envision how a right-handed individual cut his right finger with a knife, it was not sustained during the actual slicing of items for the sandwich. Cain apparently tried to grab the knife as it was falling to the floor.
Cain was scratched from his start last Tuesday, an obvious consequence of the injury. Given how sensitive a pitcher’s grip is, it seemed a bit optimistic that he would be able to reclaim his spot just a week later, even though the cut was small enough to not require stitches. There is not only the matter of the wound healing to the point that Cain can grip the ball, but also his regaining the proper feel of the ball on the newly laid scar. If the wound has not adequately healed, there is the risk of further impeding the healing by pitching. If the grip is altered, there is the risk of creating another problem. Better to wait until there is essentially zero risk of either situation before returning Cain to the mound. The team was hopeful after Cain threw a bullpen session Friday, but the news was different by late afternoon Sunday. On the positive side, this stint can be backdated to April 25, and he might even be able to return this weekend, presuming the above criteria have been met.
Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (left teres major): Kershaw is set to make his United States season debut for the Dodgers this week. (He did pitch this season ... in Australia.) He is expected to take the mound Tuesday on the East Coast when the Dodgers pay a visit to the Washington Nationals. The injury never seemed particularly significant, and that’s just how the team wanted it to remain. The move to the DL and the cautious approach to his return -- including an additional rehab start in the past week, in which Kershaw threw five innings -- was a deliberate progression designed to (hopefully) ensure no setbacks as the season progresses.
Kershaw did not want to go on the DL (this was his first career trip) nor did he want to stay on the DL (expressing disappointment at the team’s decision to add another rehab start), but he will likely benefit from both moves in the larger scheme of things. After recording nine strikeouts in his last rehab start, there is no reason to expect Kershaw to be anything but his usual ace self right out of the gate.