Hanley Ramirez Needs Surgery on Thumb, out Two Months for Dodgers
#Dodgers: Torn ligament in Ramirez's right thumb. Surgery tomorrow in LA. Thumb immobilized for three weeks. Expected back in about 8 weeks.
—Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 21, 2013
The injury is to a ligament in the thumb and was significant enough to require reattachment. Ramirez injured the thumb on a diving play during the World Baseball Classic. As he dove across his body, the thumb was pulled back and away from his hand, resulting in the trauma to the ulnar collateral ligament. (This UCL is not the same as the UCL of the elbow, which, when sprained, results in Tommy John surgery.)
Sometimes known as skier's thumb or gamekeeper's thumb, a UCL sprain of this type requires surgery to lock the ligament back into place. This is usually done with pins or small screws and is considered a very routine surgery. Ramirez will be in a brace for about a month as the thumb heals but will be able to do his cardio and even some baseball activities.
Once out of the brace, Ramirez will begin to work back up to hitting, which usually takes between three and four weeks. According to my injury database, the average time lost to this kind of injury is 76.4 days. It is slightly less, 62.5 days for position players.
The Dodgers remember this type of injury happening to Dee Gordon, who may end up replacing Ramirez at shortstop until he has recovered. Another player who in recent years suffered this type of injury is Henry Blanco, which doesn't help Dodgers fans feel much better, I'm sure.
The worry after any thumb injury is that there is some weakness in grip strength, which leads to reduced bat control. That can result in more swings-and-misses and seeing a steady stream of breaking balls, which require finer adjustments. Look for that trend as Ramirez starts his rehab assignment in mid- to late-May.
Ramirez was projected to put up a .781 OPS with 20 homers, 83 RBI and 16 steals by STEAMER. Those numbers now have to be reduced by at least one-third due to loss of playing time.
On the other side, Dee Gordon becomes a secondary option at shortstop due to his ability to get steals. While he remains a one-category player, he's a nice fill-in or late-round pick.
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