08/21/2005: I don't envy Scott Rolen right now....
not since it was announced late last week that Rolen has a difficult decision to make soon. It appears that Rolen suffered a torn labrum in his collision with Hee-Seop Choi back in May, and a recent consultation with Cincinnati Reds team physician Dr. Tim Kremchek has revealed that apparently an earlier arthroscopic surgery which Rolen had earlier in the season didn't completely fix the problem. So it's the case that Rolen must have surgery, and the only question is timing. Surgery will probably sideline Rolen for about 6 months, which means if he has it soon, he should be at or near 100% by the time spring training 2006 starts, with bright prospects for a full 2006 season.
However, as Will Carroll points out in his last "Under the Knife" column at Baseball Prospectus (premium content; subscription required to view):
He's got a torn labrum and the scope done in the spring didn't fix it. He'll need an open repair along the lines of the one that kept Mark Ellis out all of 2004. He'll be able to return in about six months, meaning that the timing of the surgery has to take not only the postseason into account, but next season as well. Trading time in the following season for a ring now--flags fly forever--can work, as it did with Curt Schilling. It can also go wrong, not providing any return. Rolen's decision is a hard one. He wants to help his team, especially given their excellent chance of heading back to the World Series.On the other hand, as Matthew Leach's MLB.com article points out, Rolen himself is very aware that he's nowhere near 100% right now, and is probably contemplating whether his continued presence would hurt the ballclub in the near term:
"It was put to me, from Dr. Kremchek, that, 'you need to have surgery,' " Rolen told reporters on Thursday afternoon. " 'When all the smoke clears,' he says, 'you don't have any options. You have to have surgery.'Tough choice. I'm not sure I'd want to be in his shoes. Not even for his salary.
"The timing is the issue. That's the decision that I have to make. And he was not optimistic about me being able to rehab and come back and do anything -- compete, play. He's not optimistic."
"This team is on its way to the playoffs," Rolen said. "A lot of people can argue whatever they want, but at one point, I believe we were the best team in baseball. We have a lot of guys injured, but we're still in great position. We're still headed, hopefully, to the playoffs. If we can do this, if we can hang on, I have a chance of being part of something pretty special -- or I walk around in a sling.
"So that's a big decision. One of the questions is: What's my best chance to win a ring as a St. Louis Cardinal? It might be not to play. That's not easy. That's not an easy decision, to say I can't help this team -- I can hurt this team, but I can't help this team, so my best shot of helping this team win a World Series is to not play. That's not an easy decision to make."
Well, ok, maybe for his salary.
UPDATE: Rolen's season is over; he's elected to have surgery, probably within the next week.
Len on 08.21.05 @ 09:52 AM CST