Ryan Ludwick Dislocates Shoulder, Tears Labrum, Out at Least 3 Months
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Ryan Ludwick Dislocates Shoulder, Tears Labrum, Out at Least 3 Months

Not a great start to the season for the Cincinnati Reds. Starting Left Fielder Ryan Ludwick suffered a dislocated right shoulder and torn labrum while sliding awkwardly into 3rd base during the Reds’ season-opening loss to the Angels. Ludwick will undergo surgery this week and is expected to miss a minimum of 3 months, which to me is a very generous time frame. That places his expected return at the beginning of July, but I really don’t think I can seen Ludwick back in the lineup prior to the All-Star break.

So what exactly does this injury mean? Well, he basically has lost the anterior (front) stability of his shoulder, as a dislocation occurs due to tearing of the joint capsule and associated structures that surround the ball-and-socket joint that allows the head of the humerus (ball) to slip forward relative to the glenoid fossa (socket). With shoulder dislocations, there is typically an associated pathology to the labrum, which is a ring of cartilage along the rim of the glenoid fossa that increases the actual depth of the shoulder joint, allowing for increased stability without compromising mobility. The orientation of the shoulder joint is like a golf ball sitting on a tee, not much coverage along the outsides of the ball. What the labrum does is change that orientation to more of a golf ball in a shot glass, but does this without sacrificing the mobility of the shoulder. So you’re able to perform overhead motions move the shoulder in six degrees of freedom because of the static (labrum, joint capsule) and dynamic (rotator cuff, scapular muscles) stabilizers of the shoulder.

So how does this type of injury/surgery affect his playing ability? Well, for a guy who throws left handed, he should be ok defensively. He shouldn’t be limited too much in the field except for reaching up/diving for balls. However, this type of injury will have a serious effect on his ability to generate power at the plate. His bat speed could suffer upon return, especially at the beginning of his return to play, as he’ll have difficulty transferring the forces produced by his legs through the shoulder to the bat due to typical post-op weakness. He’ll also be very gun-shy with sliding headfirst when he comes back, so watch for his aggressiveness on the basepaths to take a hit as well.

It’s hard to say at this point what the exact timeline is for Ludwick. His surgeons will go in, see the extent of the damage to the labrum/articular cartilage/musculature and determine his prognosis at that point. If all goes well and he recovers nicely during rehab, you’re typically talking at least 4 months, sometimes extending all the way to month 5 or 6. This is a very touchy area that can haunt him for the rest of his career, so rushing back from this procedure could be very costly to Ludwick long term if not handled properly.

Fantasy-wise, expect Chris Heisey to get the bulk of playing time at first, but it’s going to be difficult to expect the same production we saw from Ludwick last season. There will be a dropoff, but the strong lineup that Cincy has out there should help mask some of the loss the offense will feel without their starting left fielder.

About Ziad Dahdul, PT, DPT, OCS, Twitter Handle: @z_dahdul (266 Articles)
Ziad graduated from the University of Southern California with a doctorate in Physical Therapy. An avid Fantasy Football enthusiast, he brings with him a desire to introduce sports medicine to the reader and help better explain what to expect on the injury side of things. Ziad became a Board Certified Orthopaedic specialist in 2014, a distinction held by <10% of physical therapists in the country. Follow Ziad on Twitter (z_dahdul) for breaking injury news and analysis
Contact: Twitter
  • http://fflockerroom.com Chris Ziza

    Excellent write-up Ziad. I learned quite a bit. I was planning on writing off Ludwick after hearing of the extent of this injury, but after reading this it is nice to know that my feelings were correct.

    On a side note, our baseball guest tonight on The Breakdown mentioned how Stephen Strasburg’s delivery is a time-bomb waiting to happen. What do you think?

  • Ziad Dahdul, PT, DPT

    Thanks Chris, a return for Ludwick before the All-Star break seems like wishful thinking. We’ll know more when post-op details come out.

    In terms of Strasburg, I think there’s some definite truth to that. A couple of things standout to me when watching his mechanics:
    1. his upper half is constantly trying to catch up to his lower half because of his over-rotating towards 2nd base when he begins his motion.
    2. his elbow appears to be on the high side relative to his shoulder, which places increased strain on the shoulder joint
    3. he’s had elbow issues in the past, and the fact that his body is over-torqued during the acceleration phases means increased strain in transferred from the trunk to the elbow and shoulder.

    This link has a fantastic comparison of Greg Maddux’s impeccable mechanics to Strasburg, providing good insight

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7726953/a-comparison-stephen-strasburg-greg-maddux-pitching-mechanics-espn-magazine

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