Rockies Lose Nolan Arenado to Preventable Finger Injury, Out 6 Weeks

Will CarrollSports Injuries Lead WriterMay 28, 2014

Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado stands in the dugout with a splint on his finger during a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Atlanta. The Rockies placed Arenado on the 15-day disabled list Saturday, one day after he broke his left middle finger on a head-first slide into second base. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
David Goldman/Associated Press

There are only two ways to win in sports—collect talent and then keep that talent healthy. The Colorado Rockies have done well with the former, but the latter part is what's kept them down in the standings and out of the playoffs. Despite the best work of Keith Dugger and his staff, keeping Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki healthy just hasn't worked out or at least been timed up right.

Having a healthy pair of stars such as "Cargo" and "Tulo" is a good start, but behind them, they haven't had much support. That's changing as solid players such as Wilin Rosario and Nolan Arenado are coming out of the quiet Rockies development program. Getting players developed who were acquired both internationally, such as Rosario and Gonzalez, with American talent such as Tulowitzki and Arenado is difficult. 

Unfortunately, Arenado is going to be out awhile now, following a long hitting streak, with an unfortunate and preventable finger injury. Arenado has a fractured finger of the type known as mallet finger, but this could have been prevented by a simple device.

Some players have been using a plastic glove that slides over the fingers and protects them. Others hold their batting gloves in their hands, hopefully keeping them from extending the fingers into the bag.

Arenado didn't have these, but with all the injuries to hands this year—Josh Hamilton and Bryce Harper both had thumb injuries from slides into bases—there needs to be either a change to the bases or a push for better finger protection. Both would be even better.

Arenado's fracture isn't considered serious, but until he regains the use of his finger, batting and throwing simply won't work for him. The Rockies will give him treatment and time to heal. In most of these mild mallet finger injuries, the player will come back in four to six weeks. With the disabled-list move, Arenado is likely headed toward the long end of that. 

It could be worse if the fracture doesn't show signs of healing quickly and the function of the finger starting to return. In that case, minor surgery would be needed to pin things back in place, which would cost Arenado about another six weeks from that point. 

Once Arenado does return, he'll have similar issues to those returning from other finger and thumb injuries. He'll have to show that his grip has returned and that he's able to make fine motor adjustments with the bat. Swing-and-miss is the biggest watch for his return, as is adjusting to breaking balls. Given Arenado's strides at the plate this year, it would be tough to watch an injury pull some of it back.