health and back

after reading yesterday's st louis Team Health Report (THR) at Baseball Prospectus (there's a summary directly below), i shot a few questions over to Will Carroll, who wrote the article and has been tracking baseball injuries (and recovery rates) for years. he graciously sent back these answers:

Scotty Rolen first: What's the comeback success ratio for players with his type of injury?

Very good. It's an all-or-nothing recovery, and Rolen's had success coming back from shoulder injuries. I'm not sure he comes back "all the way," as I said in the Team Health Report, but I expect him to be very good. 80% of Rolen -- a low estimate, I think -- is pretty darn good. It's important to note how quickly the "state of the art" with shoulders is advancing. When I wrote about labrums a couple years ago, it was a virtual death sentence. It's not an automatic [recovery] now, but it's much much better. Rolen and many others get to play because of the work of people like Jim Andrews, Neil ElAttrache, and Craig Morgan.

If/when Rolen goes into a slump, are there any "tells" that might help us determine if his shoulder is causing part or all of the problem?

I'd watch his power numbers and spray charts. If the shoulder is "tight" or painful, he won't be able to get around.

What is Braden Looper's health status -- any concerns?

Looper has a ton of shoulder problems and wow, 13 million? He's decent Izzy insurance, but I wouldn't want to count on him to stay healthy for the term of that contract. He's throwing well and has good velocity in the spring. Keep your eye on those numbers. That said, Duncan and La Russa do very well with this type of pitcher, so I like him better in St Louis than many places.

The THR mentions Encarnacion's wrist as a concern -- doesn't his career year (so-called) in 2005 suggest a full recovery from the injury, which happened in 2004?

It does, but wrist injuries have a tendency to recur. He's had problems on and off throughout his career, so its something the system notices.

The only other time Chris Carpenter threw 200+ innings (2001), he came up lame-armed the following year. Carp threw 268 innings (including postseason) last season; how concerned should we be that his '05 workload will haunt him in 2006?

Some, but there was no "weardown" and certainly no ill effects as he had at the end of '04. Carpenter is the best-case scenario for a shoulder survivor, and while I don't want to see him used quite so much, he certainly wasn't abused and should have another good season, if not great.

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