While the Red Sox were in San Francisco recently, dropping like bad guys in a Dirty Harry movie, fans had to ask themselves one question, "Do I feel unlucky?" Well, do you, punk?
I'm sure Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholtz and Victor Martinez felt that way. Terry Francona, too. Personally I felt confused. Which injury should be written about first? And in the case of Martinez' injury, which doctor do I talk to?
It appeared as though it was going to be double-header for the Division of Podiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. First, we saw Pedroia fracture his navicular bone then Martinez took a foul tip off the toe. He was hopping around in obvious pain and it was really no surprise that he left the game an inning later. What was surprising was the injury the Sox reported after the game. Martinez had a broken thumb.
A look at the slo-mo replay clearly shows the ball glancing off his catchers mitt before striking his toe. After taking another foul ball off the thumb later in the inning, it swelled up to the point where he couldn't fit it comfortably back into the mitt. An x-ray revealed a fracture of the distal phalanx.
"The distal phalanx extends from the tip of your thumb, under the nail, back to the first joint," says Dr. Charles S. Day, Chief of Orthopaedic Hand & Upper Extremity Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "Where the fracture is and how serious the break is can make a big difference in recovery from an injury like this."
In published reports from the team, it was described as a minimally displaced fracture at the midpoint of the bone that won't require surgery.
"In terms of patient discomfort and recovery, the farther a fracture is from the joint the better. There are two tendons, the flexor tendon on the palmar side and the dorsal tendon on the nail side, that attach to the distal phalanx near the joint. If the fracture is close to the point of the tendon attachments, then it would cause stress to the fracture and create more instability," Dr. Day explains. "And if there is not much displacement -- if the bone is cracked rather than separated -- the treatment should be relatively straightforward."
A splint will keep the joint immobilized and offer protection from impact. At this point even knocking the thumb against a table or chair would be painful. And like his teammate, Dustin Pedroia, Martinez will likely receive some electronic bone stimulation to promote healing.
"A bone typically takes six to eight weeks to heal completely. With an injury like this there generally aren't any lasting consequences but this case is a bit unusual because of what he does for a living. There aren't many people that will return to a job that requires them to catch 90-plus mile-an-hour fastballs or grip and swing a bat like Martinez. And even if you are the quickest catcher in the Major Leagues, you can't avoid foul tips."
There are certain occupational hazards in baseball. There's no disputing that. I know what you're thinking. How many more shots like this can the baseball gods hand out? Well to tell you the truth, in all this discussion I kinda lost track myself. Maybe six shots or five. Nothing you can do but take your chances.
Gary Gillis is a contributor to MLB.com. The BID Injury Report is a regular column on redsox.com. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.