Doctor says Encarnacion's eye injury is 'worst trauma I've seen'

Updated: September 3, 2007, 1:55 AM ET
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- The damage a foul ball did to Juan Encarnacion's left eye was the worst the St. Louis Cardinals' medical director has ever seen to a baseball player.

Edwin Encarnacion

Encarnacion

Dr. George Paletta was not optimistic Sunday that the outfielder will regain full vision after his frightening injury and resume his career.

"It's the worst trauma I've seen. Absolutely," Paletta said, adding that the future holds no guarantees. "You hope the best for Juan, but he suffered a severe injury with a very guarded prognosis.

"It's way too early to say whether he will or he won't, and if he doesn't what percentage of vision loss he may have."

Paletta said the eye socket was essentially crushed on impact, comparing the injured area to the disintegration of an egg shell or ice cream cone, and that the optic nerve had sustained severe trauma. Reconstructive surgery may not take place for several days while doctors wait for swelling to subside.

Paletta said there was no rupture to the eyeball.

Encarnacion, who is in the second year of a three-year free agent contract, crumpled to the grass after being struck while waiting to pinch hit in the on-deck circle in the sixth inning on Friday. He remained hospitalized with a concussion and multiple fractures to the eye socket.

Encarnacion, 31, was still experiencing headaches and nausea, preventing his release. Paletta said a positive sign was that the outfielder's vision had improved some, although he anticipated that progress would be slow.

"So at this point we keep our fingers crossed, say a prayer for him and make sure he's getting the best treatment he can get," Paletta said.

With heavy hearts, the Cardinals swept the Reds in a three-game weekend series. Rick Ankiel hit a go-ahead grand slam later in the inning after Encarnacion was injured, and several hours after Scott Rolen went on the 15-day disabled list with a season-ending shoulder injury.

The Cardinals beat the Reds 3-2 on Sunday.

"Juan's situation is really hard on the team, and Scott's situation is tough," Jim Edmonds said. "No one is going to feel sorry for us, so we have to play."

Encarnacion missed the first 1½ months recovering from wrist surgery and hit .283 with nine homers and 47 RBIs. He had an 18-game hitting streak from May 30-June 18 and batted cleanup 35 times, mostly against left-handed pitchers.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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