Shouldering the risk (part two)

A follow-on, more detailed analysis of Scott Rolen's injured shoulder.

Based on a number of reader questions, I had a subsequent, more detailed chat with Rick Wilton of USA Today's Baseball Hot Sheet about Scott Rolen's shoulder.

Resetting the stage: "Rolen had an MRI and an arthrogram on Monday, which ended up revealing tendinitis in the shoulder. This isn't unusual even for a player who is coming off shoulder surgery as Rolen is," said Wilton.

He clarified the nature of the current problem. "It is an impingement, not a tear. There is an area of weakness in the rotator cuff area. Likely, the upper bone in his arm, the humerous, is pinching."

In Wilton's view, the Cardinals are on top of the situation. "With the very sophisticated level of medical coverage these players receive, it is likely that the team has him in a targeted exercise program to strengthen the one of four muscle groups that is causing the imbalance."

His experience tends to support the prognosis. "The Cardinals medical staff has stated that Rolen is not at risk for further injury. That suggests they believe they can manage this ailment the rest of the season. It doesn't hurt that Rolen is a player with a high pain tolerance."

Wilton provides a view of a very important open question. "The assessment is that Rolen is 75-80% recovered. That is enough so he shouldn't hurt the shoulder again and enough to play."

No structural problem is good news for Rolen and fans alike. "The plan is to arrange his workouts to build up his shoulder strength to eliminate or reduce the recurring impingement. Rolen isn't out of the woods yet, but people can breathe a sigh of relief since there aren't any new structural problems."

But, Wilton closed with an assignment for us, along with an implied warning. "The three-to-six weeks to completely recover is mainly in the area of rebuilding strength. Watch his strikeouts and power. If he strikes out more than usual and we don't see any doubles or home runs in the next seven to ten days, then maybe his strength is off more than we think."

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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