|Escobar Injury a SLAP to Angels|
Written by Paul Keen (Contact & Archive) on March 30, 2008
If you read my review of the 2008 Angels, you may recall me saying that their strongest point was their rotation.Â This is an assessment I would still stand by except that their number oneÂ and number twoÂ pitchers are now on the disabled list.Â Furthermore, Kelvim Escobar will now be out for the whole season.Â Some are even speculating this might be the end of his career.Â While some are only interested in the baseball aspect, I canâ€™t help but wonder what this shoulder tear is and what they have to do to fix it.
The reason I wonder these kinds of things is that I did not grow up with baseball.Â I got into it because my friends were into it.Â I grew up in a science, math, and trivia house.Â However, the more I examined baseball the more I realized I was right at home.Â Stats are just the marriage of math and trivia, and physics affects everything on the baseball diamond (especially pitching).Â Injuries fascinate me the most because many baseball fans can tell you what got hurt, and possibly how long they will be out.Â However, if you asked the average baseball fan what Tommy John surgery is they would probably say, â€śArm surgery.â€ťÂ Fair enough, but as a nerd disguised as a baseball fan I need more than that.Â So here is the scoop on what is happening with Escobarâ€™s shoulder.
Many people have been saying Escobar has a shoulder tear.Â To be more specific, Escobar has a labrum tear, or a SLAP tear.Â SLAP in this case stands for superior labrum, anterior to posterior.Â That is a lot to take in so letâ€™s start by defining the labrum.Â Your shoulder has what is called a ball and socket joint.Â Just think of it as a joystick on those old arcade games.Â The concept is the same.Â Your arm is the joystick, and your shoulder is the game console.Â You can move your shoulder in thousands of different directions based on the design of this joint.Â The downside is if you remember what a beating that joystick took when you were really into your game, youâ€™ll understand why Escobar is facing a career ending injury.
The problem is that the bone part of your joint is way too shallow to allow for all the movements your shoulder has to do.Â To make up for this there is a lip-like cartilage surrounding the ball part of your arm called the labrum.Â Itâ€™s sort of an extension of the socket to make sure your body can accommodate all the moving that arm has to do.Â While the cartilage does an adequate job, itâ€™s not as strong as bone.Â There are several ways that you can injure your labrum (falling on it, lifting something too fast and so on).Â One of them happens to be doing a lot of activity that involves moving your arm over your head.Â I think pitching an average of 100 pitches per game for the last 10 years might put you into that category.Â
If you can get plenty of rest, and possibly take pain medication, you donâ€™t necessarily have to resort to surgery although many people with this injury usually do (even the ones who arenâ€™t pro baseball players).Â The surgery requires whatâ€™s called arthroscopic surgery.Â Thatâ€™s a big doctor way of saying theyâ€™re going to cut open his shoulder and stick a tiny tube with a camera and a light in there.Â They can use the camera to take a closer look at the tear, and then use the tube to stick some tools to take tissue samples and correct what they can.
Right now, the doctors are saying that Escobar could be out for 10 months or more.Â Theyâ€™re even saying itâ€™s not certain if Escobar will come back (about 50-50).Â However, Escobar is maintaining a good attitude towards the whole procedure.Â Escobar says, â€śIf I have to have surgery, Iâ€™ll do it.â€ťÂ He is also optimistic about the outcome pointing out all the pitchers who had the surgery and came back to pitch again.
Now that weâ€™ve covered the science, letâ€™s answer the baseball questions.Â How does this affect the Halos?Â What will they have to do to stay competitive in the AL West?Â Starting the season with no Lackey or Escobar will definitely impact the Angels.Â However, Lackey is expected to return in mid-May, but having Escobar out for a whole season will hit them hard.Â Anaheim has some strong pitchers, but further down the rotation they get a little weaker.Â It leaves a question for the Halos to answer.Â Can these pitchers step it up and keep the Angels strong on the mound?Â Not all hope is lost just because the pitching is weak.Â Itâ€™s important to remember Anaheim has some terrific batters.Â These significant blows to the rotation will mean that the batters might have to step it up and try to get more runs.Â This is not a promising prospect, but aside from Mike Scioscia finding some big talent at the last minute, they have no choice.Â