Why Brendan Ryan Didn't Put Off Surgery

The St. Louis Cardinals shortstop had wrist surgery this week, but no one should be at fault, says his older brother Paul.

Since the surprise announcement on Wednesday that St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan had surgery on his right wrist the day before, just over a week prior to the opening of spring camp, there are those who have been looking for someone to blame, whether it be the player, the team or medical personnel.

Uncomfortable with all the innuendo, I contacted Paul Ryan, Brendan's older brother, to get his understanding of the situation. Knowing Brendan's injury history, I was interested in getting the explanation from as direct a source as possible.

Paul seemed very upbeat about the procedure, calling it "tiny" and expressing optimism that it will "put an end to the wrist problem that has plagued Brendan for years."

At the same time, he also wanted to make it clear that some of the reports being circulated are just plain wrong.

"Anyone that thinks Brendan put this off until the last second is just misinformed," Paul said on Thursday. "Had the pain surfaced in November, he would have had the procedure done then. He has been getting treatment for his wrist for several years so it's no secret that there were issues."

I asked Paul when the problem flared up. If it wasn't November, exactly when was it?

"A couple weeks ago after working out with Big Mac (Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire), his wrist started to bother him again. He gave it a couple days and it was just getting worse," he said.

At that point, Brendan informed the Cardinals that his wrist was acting up and next did what any smart player would do - he called his agent. From that discussion, it was decided that he would go see Dr. Steven Shin at the Kerlan Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles.

Dr. Shin was made aware of Ryan's history, which included numerous past MRIs and arthrograms that showed nothing. Rather than travel that uncertain route again, Dr. Shin suggested that he go in and take a look.

"This was the first time surgery was ever mentioned as an option," Paul said. "Dr. Shin explained that pain doesn't just happen. Something had to be the cause. The only way he would know was by going in there and taking a peek through a scope as MRIs do not always tell the whole story."

The deciding factor for Ryan was the word that recovery would only be about three weeks. Had it been presented as a two-month recovery, Brendan was instead prepared to take cortisone shots and play through the discomfort as he had done before.

"Everything was taken into consideration and the upside of the possibility of being able to play pain free for the first time in years far outweighed the downside," Paul explained.

Despite the sensitivity of the wrist and Brendan's past injuries, the elder Ryan seemed to want to take exception to the continued use of the term "surgery", with the implication it was much more complex than it actually was.

"The procedure itself was minimally invasive and took 21 minutes," Paul noted. "Brendan was put in a splint for a week to keep his wrist stable and to let the two tiny incisions heal."

Paul explains what Dr. Shin found during his short time inside Brendan's wrist.

"Dr. Shin told us that he immediately saw a protrusion of a capsule in the exact spot where Brendan was experiencing all of this pain," Paul said. "From there, he simply shaved down the capsule. The doctor said that he was extremely pleased with the outcome and for Brendan going forward."

One reason Paul remains optimistic is that Brendan is expected to be very close to being ready by the start of spring training games, which begin on March 4.

"At the end of the day, he will recover from this quickly and Cardinals fans will get to see ‘The Boog' for the first time doing what he does at 100 percent. We are all very excited here in SoCal," Paul concluded.

Earlier article: "Brendan Ryan Undergoes Wrist Surgery"

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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