One week after the Tigers announced that Carlos Guillen’s 2010 season was officially over, rumors began to rumble through Tiger Town that the injury might be even worse than originally believed. Words like “surgery” were thrown out there.
Evidently, that wasn’t just speculation. What was originally diagnosed as a bone bruise turned out to be an injury that required microfracture surgery. Guillen underwent the procedure Friday in New York, which was performed by the New York Giants’ team physician.
Does that mean this was a football-caliber injury? Well, maybe. But this appears to be have been more of a degenerative problem, rather than occurring on the play where Guillen was wiped out at second base on a slide by the Yankees’ Brett Gardner.
Guillen underwent what the club called microfracture surgery on the left knee as well as a “surgical clean-up of the degenerative changes” in the knee.
That doesn’t mean there was a fracture on the knee, and it doesn’t mean the injury came entirely from the hit. Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand compared it to a divot on the bone that might have become worse over time until the collision with Brett Gardner last month made it unplayable. The microfracture surgery promotes the healing.
Guillen won’t be able to put weight on the knee for six to eight weeks. He can resume “physical activity” in four months. Shortly thereafter, baseball activities can presumably begin. Team trainer Kevin Rand said it would be approximately a six-month span before being ready to play.
That would mean Guillen could be available for Opening Day. But that obviously depends on how his recovery goes through the winter and during Spring Training.
As Bless You Boys points out, athletes in other sports – particularly basketball – have had slow recoveries from microfracture surgery. Chris Webber, for instance, was never the same player after his procedure took away his explosiveness and agility. Amar’e Stoudemire has come all the way back, but encountered several setbacks when he first tried to return. The Pistons’ Tracy McGrady had the surgery last year, and it remains to be seen how well he’s recovered.
Guillen may have been a longshot to be the Tigers’ starting second baseman next season even before the surgery. But now, it appears almost certain that Will Rhymes and Scott Sizemore will man the position. As of right now, manager Jim Leyland is platooning the two for the remainder of the season. General manager Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers are comfortable with that combination going into next season.