Updated: Sep 14, 2022
On June 18th Yordan Alvarez grounded into a double play in a 7-0 loss to the White Sox. Yordan was then out of the the lineup for a few days before returning on the 21st against the Mets. Buster Olney reported that the Astros initially were worried that he had suffered a hook of the hamate fracture in his right hand but was told that was not the case and the injury was deemed not serious. After all Yordan went 2-3 with a home run when he returned to the lineup at Citi Field. So why is Yordan still struggling with this right hand injury that was deemed "not serious"?
As always first a disclaimer: This is all speculation. I can give my opinion on a situation but there are times I will be dead wrong. Evaluating an athlete in front of you can be difficult at times, so doing it from in front of a screen is next to impossible. But I think I can give you an informed opinion/a rough estimation of what to expect regarding severity and recovery time for a given injury. Again: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I WILL BE WRONG. When I get something wrong I will be the first person to admit it.
The hook of the hamate is a part the hamate bone, which is one of the carpal bones of the wrist. Its actually a pretty easy spot to find, If you press down on the pinky side of your palm you'll find it right under the 4th and 5th metacarpals (pinky and ring finger hand bones).
The hook of the hamate is not a commonly injured part of the body. Hamate fractures only account for 2-4% of all carpal bone fractures. In fact almost all hook of the hamate fractures are in some kind of swinging sport. Baseball being the most common, followed by softball and tennis. What usually happens is you take one swing and all 0f a sudden your hand begins to hurt, not unlike what appeared to happen to Yordan. Interestingly 97% of hook of the hamate fractures happen on a baseball players' bottom hand when holding the bat, which would be Yordan's right hand. Usually this is remedied by taking out the fractured hook. In 4-6 weeks the athlete could be back hitting. Probably seeing live game action in 8 weeks.
But reports said it was not hook of the hamate fracture in Yordan's hand, so what could be going on? Baseball players swing the bat a lot, the cuts they take during BP are not the only ones they take in a day. Over time with repeated force, the hook could begin to become inflamed. When a bone is inflamed but not fully broken, it is usually classified as a stress fracture or reaction. The problem with stress fractures is the best remedy for them is rest, something that Yordan doesn't have time for right now. Some doctors are proponents of taking out the hook, even if there is just a stress fracture. While the athlete may be out 2+ months, at least when he comes back there will no complications. This surgery and rehab is very simple, with little complications or setbacks taking place.
In June the prospect of not having Yordan for 2+ months may have been too long of a time for him to miss. Especially after he was seemingly pain free in just a couple of days. But over time with all the impacts of swinging, that inflammation has seemed to come back and the pain is present again. If this is what is going on with Yordan, I hope he and the Astros are able to successfully get the inflammation to calm down and have him ready to go come October.
The latest hand issue for Alvarez appears to be his left hand. Did it get inflamed because Alvarez was over compensating for this right hand issue? The Astros aren't saying. More on the left hand as we learn more. Let's hope the left hand issue is not as serious as the right hand is.
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