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Organizational Injury Report - 7/28 Ludwick In Rehab Games

Ludwick has begun rehab games, Cozart returns from minor injury, plus minor league injury updates

Not too hard, Heisey!
Not too hard, Heisey!
Andy Lyons

Since the previous two weeks have witnessed few developments for the Reds in terms of injuries, perhaps it's a good time to look more in depth at the situation of Ryan Ludwick and perhaps what we might expect not only as far as his return date but also how he might perform. As everyone knows, Ludwick injured his non-throwing shoulder on opening day, April 1st. The original timeframe given for his rehab had him returning to the Reds in mid-July, which was obviously optimistic. But Ludwick has begun playing in rehab games, beginning with Dayton on July 24 and promoted to Louisville July 28. How much longer until he returns to the Reds? Well, the maximum time allowed for minor league rehab games is 20 days, so barring a setback, that gives his return date no later than August 12, and indications are that we shouldn't be surprised to see him take all 20 days. Ludwick has stated that he feels good in his progress, even that he felt he was ahead of schedule. And since most shoulder injuries (even dislocations) in the Reds system over the past 2+ years have been rehabbed in less time than Ludwick is taking, it seems reasonable to assume there won't be further setbacks.

The other question is how will Ludwick perform once he returns? To get an idea of the answer we can look at how other players in the system have performed after returning from similar injuries. First of all, I would not consider Scott Rolen's situation too similar since Rolen had chronic and multiple problems with his shoulder (also non-throwing), but he is a cautionary example. After rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery the entire offseason after 2011, Rolen hit an awful .174/.238/.304 into mid-May to begin 2012, at which point he returned to the DL with more shoulder problems. After returning from 5 more weeks of rest and rehab, Rolen hit much much better, which leaves us with one of two conclusions: either he was not fully healed even after an entire offseason, or that a month-plus of very subpar performance is part of the territory upon returning. In Rolen's case, I lean towards the former.

In 2012, Denis Phipps also suffered a dislocated shoulder, which put him on the DL for a month and a half almost right in the middle of the season. Before the injury, Phipps was hitting an awful .168/.232/.295 in 38 games. He went on the DL and after rehabbing returned to hit a very solid .260/.336/.476 in 52 games. Phipps' situation is more comparable to Ludwick's and gives a lot more hope as well. Though Phipps' injury was less severe, it shows that there does not have to be a period of reduced performance at the plate, even in terms of power production.

So recent examples from the system send mixed messages. It's not surprising, since shoulder injuries can vary a great deal even if the official diagnosis is the same. The general consensus is that power is diminished for a while after returning, but I am not sure there is a compilation of evidence for this outside of the anecdotal. If the labrum was affected, then the outlook is pretty bad, since successful recovery (returning to previous performance levels) after labrum injuries is exceptionally low. If the labrum was not affected, it's possible Ludwick could be his old self when he comes back. Whether his "old self" represents a noticeable boon for the reds lineup is another matter entirely...

The other injury news from the past two weeks comes mostly from the minor leagues. Zack Cozart had hip discomfort from a minor injury, but returned to the lineup July 27 after missing 4 games. Ryan Hanigan remains sidelined for his sprained wrist after 18 days. At A+ Bakersfield, pitcher Mike Dennhardt went on the 7-day DL on July 14, and returned after the minimum on July 21. Pitcher Sean Lucas went on the 7-day DL on July 19. At A- Dayton, pitcher Werleen Taveras was placed on the 7-day DL on July 19. SS Zach Vincej returned from the DL on July 22, missing 24 days.

Check on Reds injuries and affiliates here.