Victor Caratini has been an absolute revelation for the Cubs this season, hitting .571 with a 1.647 OPS that includes a pair of doubles and one of the Cubs’ two runs batted in Thursday night. But the second of those hits may have come at a steep price, as Caratini revealed after the game.
Victor Caratini injured left hand on first swing of his last AB. After X-ray, fear is it’s a hamate fracture. Will have CT scan Friday to get more information.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 12, 2019
He said through an interpreter that he “felt it crack” on the first swing of his final at-bat, speaking about his left hand. He then took his batting glove off upon reaching second and noticed something really was amiss. Early reports are a broken hamate bone, a fairly common injury among baseball players due to the stress of the knob of the bat on the hand.
A triangular bone with a small hook-like projection, the hamate is at the base of the pinkie and ring finger. As such, you can imagine how a batter could injure it on an awkward swing or when hit by a pitch. Since Caratini was batting righty in his last at-bat, that left hand was on the bottom.
Caratini said after the game that the trainers believed he was looking at a 3-4 week recovery time, but that may have been either wishful thinking or a translation issue. Hamate injuries typically require 6-8 weeks of immobilization, and that’s just for normal people who don’t plan to be swinging bats or catching and throwing baseballs once they’re healed.
If Caratini indeed has a broken hamate, he’ll likely opt for more aggressive surgical treatment. But even that could result in a 6-week layoff, which was the median recovery time in a 2017 study of 74 athletes (including 57 baseball players) who underwent surgical excision for hook of the hamate fractures. Giancarlo Stanton had surgery to repair a broken hamate suffered in late June of 2015 and didn’t return to play that season.
We’ll see, though, maybe P.J. Mainville and the rest of the training staff have some magic hamate balm that will halve the recovery. One thing we know for sure is that the Cubs’ failure to land a solid veteran backup catcher now looms much larger. Expect to see Taylor Davis called up immediately, with other potential reinforcements being sought out as we speak.
This comes at the worst possible time for Caratini, since he was really looking like the offensive threat the Cubs had felt they had based on his numbers in the minors. He’d never been able to flash that with Chicago, which is part of the reason Willson Contreras ended up leading baseball in innings caught last season.
So here’s to hoping Caratini indeed has a quick recovery and that he’s able to pick up where he left off upon his return.
Update: The Cubs made it official Friday, placing Caratini on the 10-day IL with a broken left hamate and recalling Davis from Triple-A Iowa. The initial timetable for Caratini’s return has been set at 4-6 weeks, which seems optimistic but certainly not far-fetched.