Hank Conger: Extra for Experts

Following up on the overblown reports about Hank Conger’s injury … I remembered today another Angels minor league catcher who had similar experiences in his career a few years ago.

In 2000, his rookie season, he played only ten games in rookie ball due to a lower back strain. Conger had a similar injury last year.

In 2003, he missed most of the season after undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder for a torn labrum, an injury apparently more severe than what’s reported for Conger.

That catcher was Mike Napoli.

For reasons unfathomable to me, some people out there want to spin a hysterical fantasy that Conger’s career is over as a catcher. All one has to do is look at Mike Napoli and see that the people peddling this tale have no idea what they’re talking about.

6 Comments

-its not hysterical and its not overblown, its spring training -this is the kind of story guys do in spring training
-one guy saying he shouldnt be a catcher doesnt mean he shouldnt be a catcher

Good job on the site.

My son is a varsity HS catcher. He too experienced a partial tear of the labrum (July 2006) in his throwing arm. His progress was delayed 3 months by a physicians incompetence. But after we found a good orthopedic specialist, he went through 3 months of rehab but the shoulder did not respond. He underwent arthroscopic surgery in January 2007. Seven weeks after surgery, he returned to his 3 times per week rehab program. He returned to throwing in August 2007. He has steadily regained strength in the arm and I’m gussing that 14 months after the surgery he is around 85-90% of where he was before. In the past week I have noticed that he is a lot more cofident in snapping his throws and pushing his arm. Keep in mind, my son is a HS student with nowhere near the resources that Conger has available via the Angels. We as parents decided to bring him along very slowly in order to avoid re-injury. We were probably overly conservative but he is on target to be 100% by the time Connie Mack ball starts up in June. I would imagine if Conger’s injury does require arthro-surgery, he’s looking at at least 9 months before he gets back to throwing 100%. He could possibly return as a DH within 3-4 months of the surgery though. troy Glaus had a similar surgery in May 2004 and returned as a DH in September of 2004.

Thanks for the detailed information about your son’s experience. I’ve heard many players’ parents tell me stories about their son’s treatment, how they worry whether it’s expert treatment.

When the Angels drafted Nick Adenhart, he had blown out his arm and needed Tommy John surgery. Part of the deal was the Angels handled the surgery and the rehab. That’s worked out well for everyone involved.

But I’ve also heard some players (and their parents) complain that Angels doctors got it wrong. Who really knows. They’re not doctors, and neither am I.

The human body is just far too complex to make sweeping generalizations, as your experience illustrates. Glad to hear it’s working out.

I agree that with your comments about the players and parents not being experts. But there are numerous resources available to them to help educate them. I visited over a hundred orthopedic websites regarding my sons’ injury. I learned that shoulder injuries are probably the most difficult to diagnose. There are so many variables involved with shoulder injuries. A slight tear of the labrum is really a lesser of evils. Now Escobar’s injury (sounds like rotator cuff tear), that is definitely career threatening. The prognosis after surgery is not good either. Only 15% of throwers return to form after rotator cuff surgery. That is why no one wants to go under the knife for that. The most important thing is always and accurate diagnosis immediately after the injury. This was the problem we found with my son. His first doctor diagnosed it as a shoulder sprain. He ordered an MRI without contrast which makes soft tissue tears more difficult to diagnose. You definitely need an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulder injuries. I have heard that doctor Yokim is very good. I know a HS player who is currently under his care. But it is still up to the player to take their rehab seriously. EWven after rehab and throwing begins, then other problems can occur. My son had bicep tendonitis 5 weeks after returning to throwing and we shut him down all of September and October. He missed the fall ball and winter ball season too. He was a top performer as a 16 year old but it remains to be seen if he will regain that level of performance at this point. He is a second string player right now because his development has been delayed. He has shown flashes of his old self but his nmental approach is still not there yet. There’s a lot more than just the physical recovery involved with these type of injuries. The confidence factor is huge. And that is what is missing right now. I wish Hank Conger the best.

I have been unable to find anything current on Hank’s medical status and recovery. Have you heard anything new on his status?

I asked farm director Abe Flores a month ago what was the status on Hank Conger, Ryan Mount and Matt Sweeney. He said all three were expected to be available by the end of the minor-league first half (i.e. mid-June).

With Hank, the issue seems to be whether he’s just going to be a DH or whether they’re going to rehab him to catch this year. The latter means building up the muscle around the shoulder to protect the tear. It worked years ago with Joe Saunders, and it’s the approach they’re taking now with Kelvim Escobar.

Generally speaking, the Angels don’t talk much about injuries, one reason being HIPAA laws that protect a person’s medical record.

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