Sports Medicine 101: A Guide to White Sox Prospect Injuries

Upon embarking on this assignment, I didn't realize that it had the potential to become the text for a course in sports medicine. If you're considering a career as an athletic trainer or rehab specialist this article is a treasure trove of information. You'll learn the treatments and recovery times for a litany of injuries including knees, elbows and just about everything that can occur on a baseball diamond. I spoke with a Certified Athletic Trainer Dave Diers, who holds a Masters in Health Science in Sports Medicine and Orthopedics and has worked with professional athletes, to make sure we got things right (he's quoted directly in some places). In the process I learned quite a bit myself.

However, I'm sure most of you are concerned White Sox fans who want to know when their favorite prospect will be back on the playing field and if they'll have any long-term effects from their maladies. Luckily, there's plenty of that too. So read on - it's not as bad as it seems.

The List

Eloy Jimenez leaving the building (Julie Brady / FutureSox)

Eloy Jimenez leaving the building (Julie Brady / FutureSox)

Eloy Jimenez

Outfielder, Triple-A Charlotte

Injury: Strained left adductor muscle. He also suffered a pectoral injury late in spring training that caused him to miss the first two months of the season.

Estimated Return: Jimenez was activated July 15 responding with a double and a single in five plate appearances. The train continues to roll.

Outlook: This is a minor injury, which should not produce a long-term impact. Given the injury situation in the outfield on the MLB level, there is a possibility Jimenez makes his way to Chicago once he gets his timing back in Charlotte.

Luis Robert, light tower power, Kannapolis Intimidators, 2018 (Clinton Cole / FutureSox)

Luis Robert, light tower power, Kannapolis Intimidators, 2018 (Clinton Cole / FutureSox)

Luis Robert

Outfielder, High-A Winston-Salem

Injury: Moderate sprain to a ligament in his left thumb.

Estimated Return: Four to eight weeks

Outlook: If he's out the full eight weeks, he'd be ready to return around Sept 1 near the conclusion of the regular season. With the Dash already in the playoffs, he could return to participate. Given how much time he's missed this season, he's a solid candidate to play in the Arizona Fall League. However, James Fegan of The Athletic reports that general manager Rick Hahn indicated he may not see the field again until 2019. According to Diers the injury should heal with rest and a splint. If he continues to re-injure the thumb it could lead to surgery, which is a 10-12 week rehab with little risk.

Alec Hansen scream face delivery, for Great Falls Voyagers, 2016 (photo provided to FutureSox by Michael Grennell)

Alec Hansen scream face delivery, for Great Falls Voyagers, 2016 (photo provided to FutureSox by Michael Grennell)

Alec Hansen

Starting Pitcher, Double-A Birmingham

Injury: Forearm soreness sustained early in spring training

Estimated Return: Made his season debut on June 16.

Outlook: This situation requires monitoring. Hansen left his July 13 start after a visit from the trainer in the third inning and appeared to be motioning to his forearm. He is scheduled to pitch again tonight. In a conversation with Diers, he indicated that if it is truly a forearm strain it can be healed through strengthening and stretching. However, forearm muscles are related to the UCL. If that's the case, healing the ligament needs to be the focus. There are alternative treatments other than a surgey associated with a certain former Major League pitcher's name, but that is on the table if it even gets that far. Diers stressed the slippery slope of speculating without first hand knowledge, and there is no reason to sound the alarm bells at this point.

Dane Dunning with the Dash (Clinton Cole / FutureSox)

Dane Dunning with the Dash (Clinton Cole / FutureSox)

Dane Dunning

Starting Pitcher, Double-A Birmingham

Injury: Moderate elbow sprain – no surgery required

Estimated Return: Six to eight weeks

Outlook: Dunning is expected to start a throwing program once the rest period is over, so it's doubtful he returns to any game action this season, although he is a candidate for the fall league. Diers stated that the throwing program will be the key barometer in determing the health of the ligament.

Jake Burger in Cactus League action, 2018 (Kim Contreras / FutureSox)

Jake Burger in Cactus League action, 2018 (Kim Contreras / FutureSox)

Jake Burger

Third Baseman, Class A Kannapolis

Injury: Ruptured Achilles tendon Late February, Tore it again in May

Estimated Return: May 2019

Outlook: This is the most serious of all the injuries and the fact that it happened twice complicates matters. He is expected to make a full recovery without any impact on his baseball career.  "The primary issue will be the range of motion. If he doesn’t gain it all back there will be more stress on it and another tear is more likely. Given his age it shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve never seen someone that young have a re-tear like that, so there could be some other weird complicating factor. But any further issues would be unlikely," said Diers.

Micker Adolfo hitting for the Dash, 2018 (Clinton Cole / FutureSox)

Micker Adolfo hitting for the Dash, 2018 (Clinton Cole / FutureSox)

Micker Adolfo

Outfielder, High-A Winston-Salem

Injury: Torn UCL that requires Tommy John surgery

Estimated Return: April/May 2019

Outlook: Having Tommy John surgery is no longer the career-jeopardizing prognosis it was once considered to be. It is commonplace for pitchers to have the procedure and return to pre-injury form. For an outfielder, the risk is even less. Adolfo does feature a jaw-dropping throwing arm which could be impacted, but that shouldn't be a deal breaker for his lofty prospect status even if that unusual outcome happens. Like Burger, the biggest concern is lost development time. He was raking at Winston-Salem with a slash line of .283/.368/.466 and 11 dingers. Had it not been for the injury he would likely have been playing in Birmingham for the balance for 2018. Now he may not reach the level until June of 2019 or later.

Zack Burdi in Cactus League action, 2017 (Brian Bilek/FutureSox)

Zack Burdi in Cactus League action, 2017 (Brian Bilek/FutureSox)

Zack Burdi

Relief Pitcher, Triple-A Charlotte

Injury: Torn UCL, underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2017.

Estimated Return: Late 2018

Outlook: The Downers Grove native and "future" closer recently began throwing off a mound - an indication that he may be ready to return soon. He embarked on a throwing program in May and reports are that it has gone well as evidenced by his recent progress. He could pitch for AZL later this season and will likely be part of the fall league. Burdi was lights out before the injury accumulating, seven saves while striking out 51 in 33.1 innings. The fire-baller could be a candidate for the MLB roster sometime in 2019.

Seby Zavala warming up a pitcher in the pen, AFL 2017 (Kim Contreras / FutureSox)

Seby Zavala warming up a pitcher in the pen, AFL 2017 (Kim Contreras / FutureSox)

Seby Zavala

Catcher, Triple-A Charlotte

Injury: Wrist

Estimated Return: Returned on May 30, went back to the DL on July 16, no ETA on return provided.

Outlook: Shortly after coming off the DL in May, Zavala was promoted to Triple-A Charlotte. In 17 games with the Knights Zavala is slashing .227/.268/.288 with no home runs. He played 16 games at Birmingham after returning from the DL slashing .298/.359/.386 with a home run, leading one to conclude that the reduced output is a result of him leveling up and not the injury, but that's hard to determine at this point. Without knowing more about the nature of the wrist injury, it's tough to speculate on the effect on his future.

Outfielder Ryan Cordell, batting in Spring Training, 2018 (Kim Contreras / FutureSox)

Outfielder Ryan Cordell, batting in Spring Training, 2018 (Kim Contreras / FutureSox)

Ryan Cordell

Outfielder, Triple-A Charlotte

Injury: Broken Clavicle

Estimated Return: Reported to Glendale for a rehab stint on July 11.

Outlook: Initially, Cordell was expected to miss eight weeks, but it was actually 12 before he started his rehab stint, so look for him to be with AZL for a while before returning to Charlotte. Despite the injury situation in Chicago, it is unlikely he'll be ready to crack the major league roster anytime soon, though a September call-up is not out of the question.

AJ Puckett in his Dash debut (Mike Brady for FutureSox)

AJ Puckett in his Dash debut (Mike Brady for FutureSox)

AJ Puckett

Starting Pitcher, Double-A Birmingham

Injury: Elbow

Estimated return: Unknown

Outlook: Puckett began a throwing program in mid-June. He has not been assigned to a team nor started an official rehab assignment. He's a candidate for playing in the Fall if he is not able to return this season.

Kade McClure pitching for the Intimidators, 2018 (Clinton Cole / FutureSox)

Kade McClure pitching for the Intimidators, 2018 (Clinton Cole / FutureSox)

Kade McClure

Starting Pitcher, Kannapolis

Injury: Knee

Estimated Return: April 2019

Outlook: McClure underwent surgery to correct a dislocated kneecap and ligament damage in Chicago on May 30. On July 11, McClure announced via his Twitter account that his brace had been removed and he was beginning the next phase of his rehab. He told The News Herald that he's hoping to be recovered by October, and to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic by November.

4th overall draft pick Nick Madrigal in the AZL, 2018 (Sean Williams / FutureSox)

4th overall draft pick Nick Madrigal in the AZL, 2018 (Sean Williams / FutureSox)

Nick Madrigal

Middle Infielder, Class A Kannapolis

Injury: Hamstring

Estimated Return: Madrigal reported to Kannapolis on July 16.

Outlook: Madrigal tweaked his hamstring during the college season and played through it during the College World Series. He's rested and resumed play on July 12. Madrigal was promptly promoted to Kannapolis.

Steele Walker

Outfielder, AZL

Injury: Strained Oblique

Estimated Return: Made his debut with AZL on July 14, registered his first professional hit the following evening.

Outlook: Another injury that was sustained during the college season. Like Madrigal, he is expected to be in AZL a short time before moving on to either Great Falls or Kannapolis.

--

Ok, so there is the dirty baker's dozen. While absorbing this information all in one sitting may be disheartening, the silver lining is that outside of possibly (but not probably) Burger, none of these injuries appear to have the potential to be career-altering. As any baseball fan knows, injury situations can change quickly and result in longer than expected recovery times or surgery.  For hard evidence, see Micker Adolfo. But quicker than expected returns happen as well, although that is unlikely with this bunch as the White Sox prefer to proceed with caution in regards to their loaded farm system.

The greatest cause for alarm is the lost development time for all of these players. Before the 2018 season began, there was talk of the White Sox contending in 2019. Given the current performance of the major league club and the delays in the prospects joining them that doesn't seem like a realistic possibility. Even 2020 might be unattainable, as many of the top players may just be reaching the big leagues and it's hard to contend with a large number of rookies as they tend to struggle. Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito are two relevant examples. However, considering the talent level embedded in the system, there is still reason for unbridled optimism for the future.

White Sox fans need to be patient. They're good at that. It's been 13 years since the last World Series and 88 for the one before that.

Stay tuned to futuresox.com and our twitter account for further updates on the always fluid injury situation. You'll know when we know – or at least shortly thereafter.

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Comments

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  • Any word on Andre Davis, received along with Puckett in the Melky deal?

  • In reply to Slicer1:

    He went out with a knee injury in April and is expected to return this season. Thanks for reading.

  • I am a sportsman and i also face injury during my training and i return after two months. your post is very helpful for me. I have share your post on Vehicle towing company. Thanks for sharing.

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