Markakis to have surgery to remove right hamate bone (updated)

Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis will undergo surgery at 7:30 a.m. Friday morning in Sarasota, Fla to remove a broken hamate bone from his right wrist, a procedure that is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Brian Schofield. Markakis is believed to have suffered the initial injury on a slide a week to 10 days ago, and he felt something “tweak” again in his final at-bat in Tuesday’s game in Toronto.

A broken hamate bone is a fairly common baseball injury, and X-rays typically don’t pick it up, which explains why Markakis’ X-rays on Wednesday were negative. The procedure is brief and typically under 20 minutes with an estimated timetable from 2-4 weeks.  All things considered, it’s good news for the Orioles club fearful Markakis –their most durable player – would be out for the rest of the season.

“If you had told me that was what it was going to be, I would have signed up for it in blood,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Thursday afternoon. “It’s not that bad.”

Still, it will require a trip to the disabled list for Markakis, the first of his Major League career. A hard-nosed player who prides himself on being in the lineup every day, Markakis had started the team’s first 50 games, 48 in right field, before sitting out Wednesday’s series finale in Toronto.  The 28-year-old Markakis made significant strides in his recovery from offseason abdominal surgery and the Orioles remain hopeful he will bounce back from Friday’s scheduled surgery in similarly quick fashion.

Markakis has played in at least 160 regular season games in each of the past three seasons, a streak that will undoubtedly end with this injury. He is batting .256 with eight homers, 26 RBIs and a .785 OPS.

The Orioles are expected to make a corresponding roster move, officially placing Markakis on the disabled list, before Friday’s series opener in St. Petersburg. Markakis will join a crowded-DL in extended spring that presently includes relievers Matt Lindstrom and Stu Pomeranz, outfielder Nolan Reimold, catcher Taylor Teagarden and starting pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, who will be out the entire season with Tommy John surgery on his left elbow. Of the group, Lindstrom is the closest to a return, according to Showalter. Brian Roberts and Zach Britton are also on the DL and on rehab assignment.

So, who replaces Markakis? Rookie Xavier Avery could be recalled since it was an injury situation, although there’s some who feel he could benefit from some seasoning and consistent playing time at Triple-A. Keep in mind, he spent last year at Double-A Bowie. Triple-A Norfolk’s other outfielders include Jai Miller, Lew Ford and Jamie Hoffman, who are all possibilities at this point.

Reimold, is still not doing baseball activities so with two outfielders on the DL it’s possible the Orioles make a move outside the organization as well. Markakis’ timetable could change, especially since surgery on the hamate bone typically tends to be closer to 6-8 for recovery. There’s some optimism he will be able to be back sooner, but the team won’t know until he has the surgery and starts his rehab.  San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval is about four weeks removed from surgery to take out his left hamate and is believed to be about two weeks away from returning, which puts him right around that six-week mark.

To date, here are the shortest documented recent recoveries from hamate removal surgery in the baseball world. (With a hat tip to researcher Dan Wade who works for SI.com’s Will Carroll, for doing the digging.)

2006: Willy Aybar: 20 Days
2010: Tony Gwynn Jr. 25 Days

Joe Mather also missed just 20 days in 2008, but also didn’t play a game after he was activated, so that situation is a little unclear and could have been part of a roster shuffle.

2 Comments

You cannot put a timetable of a general nature on any injury. They are all different and each player heals differently. Bad loss.

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