The medical innovation known as an InternalBrace that could help Mike Trout expedite the projected six-to-eight week recovery timeline for his torn left thumb ligament is encouraging but somewhat risky, according to at least one medical expert.
Dr. Michael Hausman, chief of elbow and hand surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, did not treat Trout but is familiar with his type of injury.
"It's basically a very, very thick, stout suture that helps to essentially temporarily stabilize the ligament and reinforce it while it's healing," Hausman said in a telephone interview. "Ordinarily, you would have to wait until the ligament is solidly healed, a 10-12 week process, before you could begin to use it and put force on it. The temporary brace is thought to be strong enough to withstand forces early and reinforce the repair and prevent it from being injured."
Trout had surgery Wednesday to repair the ulnar collateral ligament tear, which he injured when sliding into second base Sunday.
Hausman said the treatment may prove to be a widespread solution, but noted the lack of experience and data confirming its performance.
"It's a little controversial because the downside is this very strong suture can actually essentially saw its way through the bone," he said. "That's the concern. But it's infrequent. Obviously, if it happens, it's a problem. We just don't know the denominator yet. We don't know if it's one in a million or one in 10."
Hausman said it was unclear what would happen if the suture did work its way into the bone.
"That's potentially a tough problem because now you have a ruptured ligament and a big hole in the bone where the ligament is supposed to attach," Hausman said. "That becomes a challenge: How do I re-attach the ligament to the bone where I've just made a hole?"
It's not known how many athletes have had the thumb procedure — it's often done in shoulders — but the Angels' Andrelton Simmons is one. He beat the same projected timeline that Trout was given.
One area where their injures differed is in Trout's accompanying dorsal capsule tear, which Simmons did not suffer. The doctor said it was unusual for the dorsal capsule to be torn in tandem with the UCL. It's more common to be torn along with the radial collateral ligament, on the other side of the thumb.
In Trout's case, it indicates the moment of injury contained force significant enough to extend all the way to the top of the thumb.
Hausman said the additional tear should not add to Trout's recovery time.
The Angels have not made Trout available to speak to reporters. His surgeon, Dr. Steven Shin, is not permitted to speak on the matter.
Maybin to the DL, Escobar activated
The Angels activated third baseman Yunel Escobar from the 10-day disabled list, where he had spent nearly three weeks because of a hamstring strain.
As they regained one of their regulars, they lost another. They placed Cameron Maybin on the DL because of a bruised oblique he suffered while making a diving catch Monday. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that Maybin's muscle continues to improve and noted the club's plans to activate him June 9, at the outset of a weekend series at Houston.
Right-hander Huston Street, recovering from a lat strain sustained in March, will not pitch in Class-A Inland Empire by Friday, as had been planned. Bothered by right triceps tightness, Street will throw another bullpen session in Anaheim before throwing a four-out minor-league outing, which will delay his activation. … To make room for Thursday starter Alex Meyer on their 25-man roster, the Angels optioned reliever Mike Morin to triple-A Salt Lake.