May 17, 2010

Matt's Mailbag: May 17, 2010

Dan asks: Hey Matt, we fans don't hear much about what players do while on the DL. Can you give us some insight on what you do to rehab and why in Arizona?

Matt answers: Hi Dan, thanks for your questions. Over the past few weeks I have been putting up videos on my hand progress and what type of things I've been doing, but I've never really explained where or when I do it. To help you understand a bit more about the rehab schedule and why I do it here in Arizona and not in San Diego, or Portland, I will go a bit more in depth about the entire rehab process.

First off, we have a minor league and major league rehabilitation coordinator that is in charge of helping any injured player get back to good health as fast and efficiently as possible. Our major league rehab coordinator is stationed in San Diego, so any player that is with the big league team that gets hurt will stay in San Diego and work with him. Any player that is in the minor leagues is sent to Peoria, Arizona, to our spring training complex where our minor league rehab coordinator is located.

My surgery was almost three weeks ago and I had my cast removed about four days ago. Now that my cast is removed I meet every morning with our rehab coordinator at around 9:30 AM to begin the rehabilitation process. Recovery time for a broken hamate bone is typically 6-8 weeks, but can sometimes run up to 10 weeks. This is a rough estimate of how my rehab program will go, but things can quickly change depending on how good or bad the hand is healing.

The first two weeks were spent in a cast. The next two weeks (weeks 2-4) will be spent regaining mobility and strength in my hand. As you can probably guess, my hand was extremely stiff when they removed the cast, so we have to spend a lot of time stretching and going through different range of motion exercises to regain that motion. At the same time we start strengthening exercises. The exercises are really simple due to the lack of strength my hand has right now. As the days pass we add more and more weight to my exercises until the strength returns to its normal state.

The following two weeks (weeks 4-6) I am allowed to hold a bat in my hands again, if the doctor clears me to do so. I have a meeting with my doctor on May 24 to decide if the hand is healing properly. These two weeks will be spent getting used to hitting again. I will work on slowly building back strength in my hand. The first day or so will be spent taking dry swings, which is just swinging a bat without hitting a ball. If that feels good the next few days will be spent hitting of a tee, followed by hitting soft toss, and then on to batting practice. It is probably a few days of each until we finally get to batting practice. If the hand continues to feel good I will be allowed to face live hitting, which is our pitchers throwing game like speed pitches to me.

The final two weeks (weeks 6-8) if I have passed all of the tests and still feel good I should be allowed to start playing in rehab games here in the Arizona Rookie Ball League. After a few weeks of games if I am still feeling good I should be ready to ship out to Portland and begin my season.

This is the game plan for the next month and a half. Hopefully I did OK explaining the rehab process, and hopefully it will all go to plan and I will be back playing in games again soon.

Below is a picture of my hand I took today. If you think it looks gross, it feels even worse to the touch. I know it looks like I drew on myself, but the long line is where they cut my hand to open it up and the holes are from the stitches.

Matt Antonelli is a second baseman in the San Diego Padres farm system. Do you have a question for Matt? Drop him an email at mattantonelli9@gmail.com or here in the comments section!

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