“He’s facing a lot right now,” Cashman said. “I can’t tell you, really, anything more than something unfortunate happened. We’re in the very early information side of this thing.”
The somber tone of yesterday’s Yankee camp reflected the news of a gruesome injury to a well-liked teammate. We can question the wisdom of Joba’s decision all we want, especially after the fact. I would imagine that Joba was unaware (as I was) just how many people are injured annually on trampolines. While I don’t think it’s unfair to chastise a professional athlete for putting his body at risk unnecessarily, or perhaps recklessly, I also don’t want to pile on a father who was simply spending time with his son. Freak accidents are just that, and can happen to anyone. I think the most important question on the minds of Yankee fans that needs to be answered right now is what is his prognosis, and what would be a reasonable time frame for him to return to the mound, if ever. I’ll be up front in saying I don’t have any medical background, I’m simply passing along the information I’ve been able to gather based on what little we currently know.
In searching the BP injury database, there are no injuries quite like Joba’s. There are a plethora of players who’ve had ankle sprains, but that’s not remotely comparable to this. In recent years three other MLB players have sustained broken ankles, namely Stephen Drew, Magglio Ordonez and Roger Bernadino. Bernadino was hurt on 4/19/09 missed the rest of the season and came back the following year without any apparent effects. Drew suffered his injury on 7/20/11 and most recent reports say he will not be ready for opening day, more than 8 months after the incident. Ordonez suffered his injury on 7/25/10 and missed the rest of the year. He played the following season and was a shell of his former self, though its difficult to know whether that was the lingering effect of the injury or due to his then-36 years of age. You may be wondering where the most famous ankle injury in recent years is, namely that of Kendrys Morales. BP has the injury listed as a “broken lower left leg” that involved ankle surgery, so it appears he had bone fractures that went beyond the ankle itself. He suffered the injury 5/30/10 and was experiencing toe soreness that kept him out of all of 2011 as well. As we know, he’s just coming back now after missing close to 2 seasons.
But those cases may or may not be comparable. Joba’s injury was an open ankle dislocation. It leaves him prone to infection and changes nature of the injury, the treatment and recovery time involved. We don’t know if there are any broken bones involved, or if this is just a clean tear of the ligaments. According to the West Point Ankle Sprain Grading system, a complete tear of the ligaments involves up to 26 weeks of recovery time, or roughly six months before the patient is able to resume athletic activities. But the article goes on to say that “While most ankle sprains will heal without complication, 20% of all sprains will lead to further chronic instability.” Any instability will likely spell the end of Joba’s career. It’s his right foot, the one he uses to toe the rubber, so any instability there would be a serious issue. The article goes on to say that most cases of chronic instability are ones where the ankle is left to heal on its own. We know that Joba will receive nothing but the best of medical care. He’s already had surgery and we can rest assured he will rehab the area under professional supervision. The fact that it happened in March gives him about a full year to recover, and in some scenarios that would be enough time. But without knowing all the specifics of the injury its impossible to say if he will be ready for next year, if ever.
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