New York Mets outfielder Lucas Duda broke his right wrist moving furniture in November. He immediately had surgery and is expected to be good for the upcoming Spring Training weeks. Despite the circumstances, a wrist injury is commonplace in baseball. While Duda fully expects to be 100% and back to form in preparation for a good season, others have not been so successful.
Last season the sensational Jose Bautista, of the Toronto Blue Jays, injured his left wrist and was out for two months. He returned too soon and couldn’t even finish two games before going back to the DL and being shut down for the year. Washington Nationals hitter, Jayson Werth, then with the Dodgers, was injured by an A.J. Burnett pitch that hit him in the wrist. The wrist was fractured and became a chronic, nagging injury that took a few years to rebound from. While the jury is still out on Bautista recovering and Werth has had a decent career after healing, the questions surrounding Duda remain how will he bounce back.
By all accounts, the wrist is better. Duda has been quoted saying that it “feels great”. More proof to that end would be that hitting coach Dave Hudgens has reported that Duda is working on his approach at the plate. They are working on his pre-delivery movement in the box. That would require having a healthy swing and that requires a healthy wrist.
Though time will tell whether or not the wrist injury will be a factor, the Mets seem hopeful that he can build on his 2011 season (.292 AVG, 10 home runs, 50 RBI and 57 strikeouts) and not his 2012 season (.239 AVG, 15 home runs, 57 RBI and 120 strikeouts) where he struggled so much he was demoted to AAA.
Other players, however, have been successful after similar injuries. Albert Pujols injured his wrist in 2011. It only cost him a few weeks and he never skipped a beat en route to another monumental season (37 home runs and a .299 AVG). In addition, there is the curious case of Jeff Kent. Kent hurt his wrist while washing his car in 2002. He did not miss any considerable time as it happened in the off season and he bounced back with an MVP-type campaign (37 home runs, 108 RBI and a .313 AVG).
Granted, Duda is not in the same category as Pujols or Kent, yet there is something to be said for age and recovery. Both men were in their early thirties when their respective injuries occurred. Neither one was extremely serious in nature either. While Duda did require surgery, his age is certainly a benefit. At 27, he is still young enough to recover rapidly but old enough to get over the mental roadblocks that crop up in such recoveries.
It is expected that this injury will be of no major consequence and that he will be fine. His performance on the field will be effected more from his struggles on defense than the health of his wrist. Another season in the outfield and he may actually take a better approach to that phase of the game. That is the benefit of being one year older.
With that age, also comes wisdom. Hopefully, next time, he will pay for a moving company.