While starting pitchers have pretty much dominated the headlines for torn ulnar collateral ligaments (UCL), star outfielder Josh Hamilton is seeking to even the playing field, so to speak. The Angels announced Wednesday that Hamilton suffered a complete tear of the UCL in his left thumb, possibly requiring surgery.
Hamilton tore the ligament in the seventh inning of Tuesday's tilt with the Mariners, as he slid head-first into first base. He will see Dr. Steven Shin, a hand and wrist specialist from Kerlan/Job Orthopedics in Los Angeles, to determine whether surgery is necessary. If it is, a six-to-eight week rehabilitation process is required, as Hanley Ramirez found out when he suffered the same injury during the World Baseball Classic last year.
This following Yasiel Puig's similar injury (strained ligament) brings to mind two questions:
- Why do players continue to slide head-first into first base when it slows them down and exposes them to injury (excepting the small percentage of plays where a slide avoids a tag); and
- How does Nick Punto still have any UCLs? It shouldn't be possible.
It's especially poor timing for the Angels as Hamilton was one of a few bright spots early in the season. Los Angeles is off to a 3-5 start, with its only wins coming against the Astros — a team that might be trying to lose. J.B. Shuck was recalled to take Hamilton's place on the roster, though it's likely that Collin Cowgill will receive some of the playing time otherwise earmarked for Hamilton, with Shuck getting a little more time as the strong side of the platoon.