Some notes from Dr. Faucett on current #Nats injuries!

Photo by Sol tucker for TalkNats

Ten days ago, we had an update on the current state of Washington Nationals injuries after Stephen Strasburg injured his calf muscle. He is set to pitch today and says that he is good to go. Jon Lester had surgery on his thyroid, and he had a very encouraging start yesterday as he readies himself for the season.

“I feel good physically so now I think it’s just a matter of getting those reps and getting my feet under me and building,” Lester said.  “I think that the big thing is I feel like I’m a little bit behind the eight-ball on some things, and I think [velocity] is one of them.”

“I’m hoping that with … a little bit of adrenaline in regular games that my [velo] will go up a tick. But even if it doesn’t, I feel like I can still do the things I need to do.”

As you saw, Tanner Rainey finally appeared in a game after he was dealing with soreness in his collarbone area. The results from his first outing were not good as you would expect when batters are at full speed and Rainey is just getting going.

The good news on the trio of Strasburg, Lester, and Rainey is that they are all back and pitching in games. The bad news is that the Nats lost a key bullpen arm this past week as reliever Will Harris will be going to St. Louis to see a specialist on a blood clot in his right arm. He will be examined by vascular surgeon Dr. Robert Thompson of the Washington University Center for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Thompson has treated a number of professional athletes with blood clot issues as well as thoracic outlet syndrome. After the examination, they will come up with a plan, which could require surgery. So far, we have no information from the team on the diagnosis and prognosis of Harris’ issue.

Yesterday, Starlin Castro was removed from the game with tightness in his hamstring after running the bases. He claimed that it was just a cramp. We hope he is correct.

“I just felt a little cramp,” Castro said. “I don’t think it’s nothing bad. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow. I had a hamstring issue before, and I don’t think it’s bad.”

Manager Dave Martinez gave a more tempered response calling Castro’s status as “day-to-day” but also said about Castro, “I’m glad he’s okay” in his postgame presser.

The most serious of the early injuries in camp were with Gerardo Parra and Aaron Barrett who both had knee procedures done, but neither player was projected to be key parts of the 2021 roster. Right-hander Rogelio Armenteros, who is a fringe starter, was shutdown late last month with arm pain, but is reportedly back to throwing. Welington Castillo who was signed as catching depth is dealing with a shoulder issue, and he is probably fourth or fifth on the depth chart.

We reached out for a consultation with Dr. Scott Faucett who is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics (CAO), one of the country’s largest providers of orthopaedic care with offices in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. In addition to his role at CAO, Dr. Faucett is the team physician for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard teams and former team physician for the George Washington University Colonials. He has also been the medical director for other events including the PGA Tour and Burton U.S. Open.

Keep in mind that Dr. Faucett has not examined any of these Washington Nationals players, and his consultation here is more generic for educational purposes.

Will Harris Blood Clot

Can you comment on how this will impact his pitching arm?

“Blood clots are relatively rare in the arm and more commonly appear in the calf and legs. In this case, Harris’s blood clot could impair some of the bloodflow that is returning to his arm.”

“In general, a blood clot could also impact his endurance during games due to a lack of proper blood flow, so it’s important for Harris and his trainers to ensure it is medically stabilized to avoid any swelling above or below the clot. The good news is there are many veins in the arm, so it is easier for the blood to reroute around the clot to allow the body to repair itself.”

What is the expected recovery time for a blood clot in the arm?

“The recovery time for a blood clot in the arm depends on the size of the clot and the vein in which it is located, and is determined by symptomatic reactions. The most important thing is getting the blood clot stabilized, and then a possible return could occur in 3-6 months.”

“Because blood clots in the arm are rare, the exact recovery time is difficult to say with certainty. It’s worth noting that patients with blood clots are typically put on blood thinners for several months and should exercise caution when training, as there is a risk of the clot breaking off. As a professional athlete, Harris will have access to more frequent ultrasounds, so his stabilization can be monitored closely.”

Will there be any lingering effects or chance of further injury when he returns?

“Once Harris has fully recovered from the blood clot, there should not be any lingering effects or increased chance of injury, and he should be fine to pitch unless he has an underlying medical condition that has not yet been identified.”

Gerardo Parra MCL surgery

What is the expected recovery time for MCL surgery?

“The typical recovery time for MCL surgery is 5-6 months, which Parra is approaching now. The initial recovery phase after surgery is dedicated to letting the ligament to heal. After a couple of months, the focus can transition to retraining the knee to tolerate change and range of motion and velocity, and to regain strength.”

Are there any precautions Parra will need to take to start the season?

“Parra may be using a brace to transition back into training, but once fully recovered from MCL surgery, there are typically no precautions needed for MLB players.”

We will be reaching out to Dr. Faucett on a regular basis to get more accurate assessments on various injuries straight from the Doctor. We certainly thank him for all of this information.

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