Though it’s tough to believe amongst these frigid temps, spring training has finally arrived. Our old friend Victor Martinez (of the Detroit Tigers) is expected to join his team in Florida in 4 to 6 weeks after having surgery on a torn meniscus.
It’s a common injury in older athletes because the cartilage tends to thin and lose elasticity as they age.
Last week, I spoke with WAKR morning show host Ray Horner about this injury.
It will be interesting to see how Victor’s knee holds up this year, especially coming off his best season yet. He joined superstars Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams with more than 30 home runs and less than 50 strikeouts in a complete season.
Below is an audio file and transcript of our discussion.
HORNER: I’d like to bring my good friend, Dr. Joe Congeni, on board with us again. Joe, good morning. Thanks for joining us. What do you have for us this morning?
DR. CONGENI: Hey, Ray. You know this is the time of year you like to warm it up a little bit. I know you like thinking [about] a little bit of baseball in February to warm it up, right?
HORNER: I do. Yep.
DR. CONGENI: You had a point this morning, I think I heard ya mention about a guy who had an injury; we’ll talk a little bit about [our] old friend, Victor Martinez (Detroit Tigers).
DR. CONGENI: Before we talk about his meniscus tear that was fixed yesterday — he had surgery done I think this week or something like that, you mentioned — Victor … had an incredible year last year. I mean he’s been around a long time.
He had a statistic — I love baseball for its statistics. The only 2 guys that joined him that had this same statistic, Joe DiMaggio (former New York Yankee) and Ted Williams (former Boston Red Sox player): over 30 home runs and less than 50 strikeouts in a complete season.
HORNER: Wow. That’s hitting the baseball.
DR. CONGENI: He had a great year. You know that.
DR. CONGENI: He was a great Indian and now he’s become kind of a great Indian killer. And as that Detroit team continues to be the thorn in the Indians’ side, it’ll be interesting to see how he does with this torn meniscus.
… You know, it’s a common sports injury. We haven’t talked about it in a while. This cartilage pad between the femur bone and tibia bone is a shock-absorbing cartilage pad in the knee. It gets torn in sports, particularly as athletes move along and get a little bit older.
So it is not, and this is a real misconception, torn very frequently in high-school athletes or junior-high athletes. This cartilage pad [has] 2 parts to it, the inside and outside, medial and lateral meniscus.
Um, it is not torn very frequently in young athletes. If it is, it’s usually in combination with an ACL tear. So, 50 percent of ACLs will have torn cartilage or meniscus with it.
But otherwise, to tear the cartilage pad without tearing the ACL is really unusual ’cause this pad is very elastic and pliable and it has a lot of give to it. It starts to thin out a little and lose some of its elasticity in adulthood, and so it’s more commonly torn in an athlete like Victor Martinez.
The one sport that will see it not infrequently in young athletes, the most common, although it’s still uncommon, is wrestling, where they’re in that fully flexed position and then twist the knee.
So, it’s usually a twisting injury to the knee, and it has a lot of swelling in a kid because the cartilage pad has a lot of blood flow and blood vessels in it.
But anyway, they say Victor will be back by, you know, spring training and he’s going to be able to play this year. But for a guy at his age, it’s kinda tough. Even hitting, you do a lot of rotation on that knee. We’ll see how his knee holds up this year.
HORNER: Yeah … they said that they’re hoping to have him back by Opening Day, which, Joe, I think’s pushing it a little bit.
DR. CONGENI: You know, it really is. Four to 6 weeks I heard you say this morning to be back, and then that’ll just be in the batting cage and other things, by Opening Day.
But, did I hear you say the trucks left already for spring training in Arizona?
HORNER: Yeah. They’re arriving [at] Goodyear today. They left last week.
DR. CONGENI: [laughter] Doesn’t that make you feel good?
HORNER: Ah, it does. I love baseball. You know that.
DR. CONGENI: [laughter] I know you do.