Giants still unsure of Posey’s recovery time

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey prepares to bat against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver on May 17, 2011. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

If ever there were a time to root for a broken bone, it would be in the case of Giants catcher Buster Posey.

After his leg collapsed awkwardly under his body during a collision at the plate with Marlins’ outfielder Scott Cousins on Wednesday night, Posey underwent three MRIs on Thursday to determine the severity of the injury. The early reports were that he was diagnosed with a broken leg and torn ligaments, the latter of which being the freighting part to Posey and the Giants.

Broken bones heal, but damaged ligaments are something that can puts athletes’ careers in jeopardy. Thankfully, he “only” has a broken left fibula and severely strained ankle ligaments. In some respects, it’s the first sign of good news since Posey suffered the injury on Wednesday night. It’s still a terrible situation and your heart goes out to a young player who has meant the world to the Giants’ organization, but at least his knee was unaffected.

The Giants placed their young catcher on the 15-day DL on Thursday and have stated that he will have surgery within the week. They won’t say whether or not he’s out for the season because quite frankly, they don’t know. They won’t have a timetable for his recovery until they get the details of his surgery ironed out.

I’m no doctor but if I were to make an educated guess on how long Posey will be out for based on athletes who have suffered a similar injury, the player that instantly comes to mind is Michael Vick. Different sports, I know, but the quarterback suffered a fractured right fibula on August 16, 2003 and returned to action on November 30 of that same year, which would have put his recovery time at roughly 15 weeks.

Again, I’m not a doctor. If any reader in the medical field would like to set me straight and educate me on the severity of both injuries: by all means, please leave me a comment. But from a simpleton’s point of view, it looks like Vick and Posey suffered similar injuries. Vick was also in his early 20s at the time of his injury and being 24, Posey has age on his side as well. Either way, it’s obviously important that the Giants don’t rush him back. If he needs a full year to recover, so be it. But based on the injury Vick suffered, I wouldn’t be surprised if Posey’s recovery timetable is right around 4-5 months (which would sadly wipe out his 2011 campaign).

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Should baseball ban running into the catcher?

As a lifelong Giants fan, I’ll admit that this topic only became relevant for me when I watched Buster Posey lie on the ground Wednesday night withering in pain. I’ve always felt for catchers who’ve been hurt when a runner smashes into them at home plate. But it honestly has never dawned on me that baseball should actually do something about it until last night.

That’s because not only am I salty Giants fan right now, but I’m also baseball purist. I’ve played the game my entire life on multiple levels and I love it exactly the way it is. Quite frankly, running full-steam into the catcher in efforts to jar the ball loose has always been part of the game.

But while I can’t stand change when it comes to the sports I love, this one seems obvious. I’m sure by now there’s a reader who can’t wait to skip through the rest of this piece just to tell me in the comments section that a) catchers have equipment on, b) professional sports are for men or c) injuries are just part of the game. And while I get all of that, I’ll have to respectfully disagree in this instance.

Even if you have never played the position, if you’ve been around the game long enough you’ll know that catchers’ equipment doesn’t protect much. Don’t confuse a catcher’s chest protector with shoulderpads or their shinguards with ironclad steel. We’re talking about just enough padding and plastic to protect them from foul tips or balls in the dirt. That equipment isn’t meant to protect these players from head-on collisions at home plate.

Let’s also keep in mind that running into the catcher is the only contact allowed in a non-contact sport. Sure, runners slide into middle infielders all the time. But there’s almost an art to it and we’re still not talking about a player getting a 90-foot running head start and throwing his shoulder into a catcher who not only has to catch the ball, but also brace himself for the contact and hang onto it in order to complete the play. It’s rather ridiculous to allow a runner that advantage when you think about it.

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