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Mike Trout, the 27-year-old star center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels, was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Friday with right wrist inflammation. Trout has not played since Aug. 1 after jamming his wrist on a feet-first slide into third base during a 7-2 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays.
He received a cortisone injection on Aug. 6, and the Angels were hoping he would return for this weekend’s series against the A’s. On Thursday, Trout took dry swings to test his wrist, but the pain persisted, forcing the Angels to put him on the DL for the second time in his career. Last season, Trout missed seven weeks after tearing a thumb ligament on a head-first slide into second base on a stolen base attempt.
Wrist injuries are the 14th-most-common injury in professional baseball. Why is this? In baseball, wrists are torqued repetitively in different directions, sometimes unnaturally.
There are two common causes of wrist pain in baseball players. One is during the follow-through when swinging the bat, with the momentum of the bat on the back end of the swing torquing the wrist in a sometimes unnatural position. This type of wrist pain can range from a mild sprain to ruptured tendons.
The second cause is from sliding into a base and jamming the wrist on the bag or the ground, which is most similar to Trout’s case. Pain stemming from this type of impact could be as mild as a bruise to more severe secondary to broken bones.
If Trout had fractured his wrist, his season would be over. Based on reports, it is just a sprain, which when talking about the wrist often refers to an overstretching of one or more of the ligaments or, more commonly, can mean damage to the TFCC (triangular fibrocartilage complex). The TFCC provides padding between the bones (similar to the meniscus in the knee), and severe, repetitive twisting can lead to injury of this structure.
Another potential cause of wrist inflammation secondary to jamming one’s wrist is acute tendinitis. Either way, the initial treatments are very similar. If icing and anti-inflammatories do not improve symptoms, then the athlete may consider a steroid injection, which is what Trout had done a few days ago. It typically takes three or four days for a cortisone shot to kick in, and then he will have to gradually increase his activity level, which is why Trout was placed on the disabled list.
Trout is expected to return on Aug. 16. when the Angels open a four-game series at Texas. In a study, we published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, the average number of days a professional baseball player with a wrist sprain missed was 15. Given that the Angels have gone 4-3 in their first seven games without Trout, and that he currently leads all MLB players with a .459 on-base percentage and has 30 home runs, 60 RBIs, and a .624 slugging percentage, I know both the Angels and fantasy baseball players are hoping that that is all he misses.