Ron Belliard, Second Baseman for Milwaukee Brewers
NAME: Ron Belliard
TEAM: Milwaukee Brewers
POSITION: Second Base
INJURY: Dislocated Thumb
OTHER ATHLETES AFFECTED
Basketball: Charlie Ward, New York Knicks -- non-displaced fracture of right
Hockey: Pierre Turgeon, St. Louis Blues -- torn thumb ligament.
Baseball: Mark Grace, Chicago Cubs -- broken bone at the top of right middle
finger; Pokey Reese, Cincinnati Reds -- strained right ring finger.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The hustle that helped Belliard nail down the Brewers' second-base job in
his rookie season last year led to the thumb injury that placed him on the
disabled list for five weeks. Belliard dislocated his thumb on March 12 when he
was hit by the ball while making a spectacular catch of a foul pop-up in
Belliard was named the Milwaukee Brewers' Rookie of the Year for 1999.
Although he began the season in AAA, he finished among the top National League
rookies in almost every offensive category: batting average (1st), runs batted
in (6th), multi-hit games (4th), runs (6th), hits (4th), total bases (5th),
doubles (2nd), triples (tied for 3rd), hitting streaks (tied for 5th), walks
(1st), on-base percentage (1st), slugging percentage (3rd), and extra base hits
(4th). The 24-year-old second baseman played in 124 games, and his fielding
percentage was .845.
WHAT'S INVOLVED IN FINGER AND THUMB INJURIES?
Because they are so exposed, fingers take a beating in sports. With its
outside location and "support" role, the thumb is particularly prone to
injury. "Fingers are basically bone, tendon, and skin," says Susan
Scott, MD, a member of the Association of Professional Team Physicians and a
hand and wrist specialist for the New York Knicks and Rangers. "There is
very little fat to cushion them from impact."
Each finger has three bones, or phalanges -- the distal (fingertip), middle,
and proximal (the part attached to the rest of the hand) -- stabilized by
ligaments and tendons. When the finger receives a blow to the tip, the
ligaments and tendons can be stretched and torn, and one or more of three
joints can be injured: the distal interphalangeal (or DIP; the first knuckle),
proximal interphalangeal (or PIP; the middle knuckle), and metacarpophalangeal
(MCP; the knuckle at the base of the finger). The PIP joint is the most
commonly injured area, since it more exposed than the others and has a larger
arc of motion and flexibility. With a dislocation, the joints are out of
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Precautionary X-rays are often taken to check for fractures. With a
dislocation, a physician will often manually realign the joints. When the
joints can't be realigned on the field, surgery may be required. Placing ice on
the injury and elevating it initially will help the swelling go down. Although
a soft cast can be placed on the thumb, it isn't always necessary. Since the
thumbs are very important in baseball, taping it to the adjoining index finger
is not generally done. Padding the thumb, if it's on the glove hand, is an
option. When the injury is on the throwing hand, as in Belliard's case, rest is
the best option.
Most finger injuries are unavoidable. Precautions include wearing padding
and taping fingers together when possible.
Belliard was placed on the DL for five weeks, but within a week of the
injury he was already fielding ground balls.
Belliard is expected to recover fully.