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The Bostonian's guide to sports injuries

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  March 16, 2009 12:35 PM

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Injuries, injuries, injuries. They’ve been piling up around here like recycled newspapers. From Dustin Pedroia’s abdominal strain to Julio Lugo’s knee to Glen Davis’s ankle to Tony Allen’s thumb, Boston's athletes have a list of ailments that looks like Evil Knievel’s medical history.

Let’s review the anatomical diagram, from head to toe, beginning with . . .

  • Scalabrine’s head and neck, heretofore known as Scal-e-osis, not to be confused with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. Injured in a 114-76 win at Denver on Feb. 23, Scalabrine has not played since and is not expected back until April. Diagnosis can be difficult because, quite frankly, Scalabrine was a little loopy to begin with.
  • John Smoltz’s shoulder. A member of the Atlanta Braves for two decades, the classy righthander is trying to come back from shoulder surgery. He is out until late May or early June, largely as a precautionary measure so that he can be ready to pitch at the end of the year. In a best-case scenario of Smoltz shoulder, all symptoms generally are expected to subside by late summer, leading to a healthy autumn (assuming the Red Sox get there).
  • Brad Penny’s shoulder, otherwise known as Acute A-Penny-itis, which can result (but not always) from a general muscle weakness relating to insufficient conditioning. Penny seems a good bet to open the season on the disabled list given that he has yet to pitch in a spring game. Somewhere, Larry Bowa is snickering.
  • David Ortiz’s shoulder, wrist and mind, a combination of physical and psychological concerns that fall under the classification of general David-ia. Hampered by a torn tendon sheath in his wrist last season, Ortiz also developed a sore shoulder early this spring from, of all things, throwing. Yet, in the absence of Manny Ramirez, the greater concern is his mental health, particularly as he pined for lineup help during his inaugural spring training address. He is nonetheless expected to be ready for the season.
  • Stephane Yelle’s undisclosed ailment, otherwise known as the Yelle Fever, somewhat similar to the Hellenic Flu in that the cause or severity of the injury is unknown. Yelle has seven goals, 11 assists and a plus-9 rating this season for the Bruins. He has been out since March 4.
  • Laurence Maroney’s body. Though Maroney was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury last season, a succession of ailments throughout his career leaves his entire body in doubt. This condition, known as Walking Maron-ia, results in an extreme shortage of confidence on the part of personnel directors and/or coaches. Hence, Fred Taylor is now a Patriot. Long-term prognosis: unclear.

  • Dustin Pedroia’s abdomen. The starting second baseman for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Pedroia unexpectedly rejoined the Red Sox over the weekend with a slight abdominal strain categorized as a minor ventral problem or MVP. (Ventral: "near, or on the belly.’’) Often confused with an oblique strain that sideline athletes for weeks, the MVP shouldn’t keep Pedroia out for more than a few days. You can exhale now.
  • Tony Allen’s thumb. Otherwise known as Green thumb, the problem generally consists of ligament damage requiring surgery. In Allen’s case, his availability for the postseason is in question, leading to varying degrees of concern about his potential loss. Despite popular belief, Green thumb cannot be blamed for erratic jump-shooting tendencies beyond, say, 12 feet.
  • Mike Lowell’s hip. After undergoing surgery last fall to repair a torn labrum, Lowell has returned to the field recently, though he still seems to moving somewhat gingerly. Given the central location of the hip, the player has been diagnosed with Inflammation of the Lowell connector, which frequently can result in stagnancy or "traffic’’ through the middle of the body. Long-term prognosis: Unknown.

  • J.D. Drew’s back, a potentially chronic condition that can leave doctors and team officials mystified. Sometimes referred to as J.D.D. given Drew’s dorsal issues, the problem can crop up an anytime -- and usually does. Problems can persist for hours or months depending on the severity of the issue and time of season.
  • Mark Kotsay’s back, a problem, in this case, expected to keep Kotsay off the active roster until approximately May 1. An issue that can arise without any warning and require an abrupt change in plan -- hence the popular term Skid Marks Disease -- Kotsay’s ailment inspired the Red Sox to sign Brad Wilkerson, who is expected to open the season as Kotsay’s replacement on the 25-man roster.
  • Julio Lugo’s knee, believed to be a tear of the cartilage or "meniscus,’’ is generally as a relatively minor ailment that should sideline the player for roughly a month. Though Lugo could be out until the middle or end of April pending the results of an arthroscopic procedure tomorrow, Red Sox officials seemed relieved that there was no ligament -- or, in this case, Lugo-ment -- damage.
  • Tom Brady’s knee. In this region, no other injury has received coverage so intense, and for good reason. Brady tore both the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial collateral ligament (MCL) in last year’s season opener, though all indications are that he will be ready for 2009. The good news? He has a new stable of receives that includes Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis. Besides, it’s not as if he ever ran like a Gisele.
  • Kevin Garnett’s knee. Though technically a knee injury, this ailment -- commonly known as Ticket-itis -- can dramatically damage the backbone of any team. Just ask the Celtics, now just 6-6 since Feb. 19, the night Garnett was injured against Utah. The struggling Celtics expect him back later this week, perhaps against San Antonio, but his absence may have cost the Celtics home court advantage in the postseason. (Translation: Can lead to road rash.)
  • Marco Sturm’s knee. In the case of the Bruins, Sturm’s injury was a season-ender that stripped the B’s of one their better sets of legs. Playfully named Marco’s polio by one longtime doctor, Sturm’s ailment only re-opened emotional scars resulting from the trade that brought him to Boston, a connection of the physical and psychological that some experts refer to as Thornton’s Law.
  • Rajon Rondo’s ankle. Though Rondo returned to the lineup Friday, he played poorly (five turnovers) against Milwaukee yesterday. Celtics officials clearly felt that Rondo had recovered sufficiently from a sprained ankle to return to the court over the weekend, but the effects of his injury -- sometimes referred to as Rondoids -- still seem present. Prognosis: Good.
  • Glen Davis’s ankle. The big forward, who has helped fill in for Garnett, sprained his ankle in a loss against Orlando March 8. There has been some speculation that such ankle injuries can prompt a spontaneous outbreak of tears, though most believe that Davis’s emotional outbreak resulted more from ostracism. Said one fictional specialist: "Nobody puts Baby in a corner.’’
  • Eddie House’s ankle and heel. Injured in yesterday’s loss to Milwaukee, House is optimistic he will return to the court quickly. Nonetheless, the Celtics seem to be suffering an alarming number of limb and extremity injuries after playing into the middle of June last year, leading some to foolishly speculate that the team is suffering from the well-known hand-and-foot-in-mouth disease that has plagued, among others, wide receiver Terrell Owens.

All of this leads to one question:

Other than Glenn Rivers, is there a Doc in the house?

Tony's Top 5

Favorite blog entries

The final chapter on Teixeira and How Red Sox pitchers work the strike zone Jan. 7, 2009 and July 17, 2009. Some actual reporting – an obsession with Mark Teixeira and the art of pitching.
For 2011 Red Sox, there was plenty of blame to go around Oct. 1, 2011. The disgraceful collapse of the Red Sox stoked the fire in all of us.
Behind Garnett and James, Celtics and Heat are digging in June 4, 2012. Improbably, the Celtics pushed the Heat to the limit.
Thrill is back for Patriots Jan. 30, 2012. Another Super Bowl has even Bill Belichick musing.
You’ve got to believe June 15, 2011. On the morning of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, we all had reason to believe.
Updated: Mar 1, 07:24 AM

About Mazz

Tony Massarotti is a Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. A lifelong Bostonian, Massarotti graduated from Waltham High School and Tufts University. He was voted the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by his peers in 2000 and 2008 and has been a finalist for the award on several other occasions. This blog won a 2008 EPpy award for "Best Sports Blog".

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