Joe Crede’s back

Key injury of the week…
Joe Crede (3B, CHA)
I know it’s starting to sound like a broken record, but the latest news on Crede’s back ailment should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially readers of this column. We’ve known for some time he is battling pain caused by two herniated discs, an injury that dates to 2004. Here is the plan for Crede and the White Sox: The MRI and back examinations that were done on Tuesday and Wednesday are being forwarded to back specialists in California and Texas. Once he gets the second opinions, Crede says, he’ll decide about his future.

There is talk of an epidural injection or surgery to remove the fluid in his back around the area of inflammation. Regarding the epidural injection, he’s had four and they’ve provided only temporary relief. Crede added, in a statement with the White Sox, that last year the pain wasn’t so bad that he felt he needed surgery. He is admitting now that the pain is worse than it was at any time last year.

Of all the information regarding his current back situation, this is a defining statement. He added that his current pain is caused by a problem with the nerve and less with the discs. He talked about a potential new procedure that could relieve the pain and inflammation in his back. The surgeon makes a small incision in his back and extracts the fluid around the nerve that is causing all this pain at the moment. This is not a full-blown surgical procedure and if he has it, it doesn’t mean his 2007 season is over.

If Crede has this procedure (which it sounds like he’s leaning toward), he’ll have a month of recovery time, then begin a rehab program. Unfortunately, while this procedure could reduce or eliminate his pain in the short-term, it still is not a long-term solution to his woes.

It appears Crede will have this procedure in the next two weeks and won’t return to the White Sox until mid-August. The likely scenario is Crede having this procedure in June, then after the season, having back surgery to repair the two herniated discs in his lower back.

From Injury Watch June 7, 2007…
Chris Carpenter (RHP, STL)
We have a Chris Carpenter sighting! He was able to do some throwing in the outfield yesterday, the first since he had bone spurs removed from his elbow on May 8. This is about the schedule that the Cardinals medical staff expected. When he had the spurs removed in May, it was projected he’d miss at least three months, and nothing has changed that schedule. Once he gets deeper into his rehab program, we’ll have a better idea when he’ll return. Right now, it still appears to be mid-August.

From Injury Watch June 5, 2007…
Preston Wilson (OF, STL)
It looks like the right knee problems that have plagued Wilson all season will land him in the operating room. The remaining question is what kind of surgery he will have on his knee. Will he have a quick cleanup and return in less than two months, or will he have “microfracture” surgery that could make his knee stronger come next year, but also cost him the rest of the 2007 season? Microfracture refers to surgery in which the surgeon repairs damage to the cartilage with the hope it will facilitate the growth of new cartilage.

From Injury Watch June 4, 2007…
Rafael Furcal (SS, LAD)
The past four seasons, Furcal has averaged roughly 14 home runs per year. That’s a nice little bit of power to go along with his 35 to 45 stolen bases. So what’s up with the zero home runs in 191 at-bats so far this season?

He suffered a sprained left ankle late in spring training and began the season on the disabled list. Furcal and the Dodgers speculate that’s the reason he is not driving the ball so far this season. Because Furcal does not have the upper body strength to drive it out of the ballpark, he must use his legs to drive toward the pitcher and generate power by using his entire body.

This season, he must be getting on top of the ball, because he’s hit more than twice as many groundballs as flyballs (2.09 GB/FB Ratio). The next question his owners must be asking is if he can he make up his lack of home runs in the last four months of the season. In the past four seasons, Furcal has hit seven home runs in a month and six in another, so he is capable of generating some power and he could make up lost ground. Several questions remain, of course.

How long until his ankle is strong enough so he can revert to his normal hitting stroke of last season and generate more power? According to one veteran Dodgers observer, Furcal’s ankle may not bounce back until the second half of the season. While we have focused on his lack of power, his stolen base totals have suffered as well. He has only six steals so far, off the pace of last season.

It’s important to note that Furcal’s ankle is still bothering him—he hinted as much after a rundown play over the weekend. He tweaked the ankle during a game Saturday night. So it is obvious Furcal will struggle with a sore and weakened ankle for awhile.

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