NAME: Brook Fordyce
TEAM: Chicago White Sox
INJURY: Broken Foot
OTHER ATHLETES AFFECTED
Football: Yancey Thigpen (Tennessee Titans); Basketball: Summer Erb (NC State Women); Hockey: Juha Ylonen (Phoenix Coyotes), Todd Reirden (St. Louis Blues)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Fordyce broke a bone in his left foot during an intrasquad game on February 29. He is expected to be sidelined 4-6 weeks. Fordyce said he felt a bone on the top of his foot crack when he tried running from first base to second on a pitch in the dirt. Fordyce was taken off the field on a cart, and X-rays revealed the break.
Fordyce, who signed a $1.5 million, two-year contract with the White Sox on Nov. 17, is the team's No. 1 catcher. He was selected by the New York Mets in the third round of the 1989 free agent draft. After coming over in a trade from the Reds late last spring, the 29-year-old Fordyce played in 105 games with Chicago. He hit .297 last season, with nine homers and 49 RBI. He threw out 22% (17 of 78) of opposing base stealers.
WHAT'S A BROKEN FOOT?
This type of injury is usually caused by a fall or an object landing on the foot, but it could also happen if the foot is suddenly jarred. A break in one or more bones of the foot, including the injury known as a subtalar (sub-TAY-lar) fracture, can be very painful. Broken foot bones cause pain, swelling, bruising, and weakness in the foot. It may tingle or feel numb. If the bones are broken badly, they may look misshapen, and it may be impossible to walk.
One of the most common foot breaks occurs in the metatarsals -- the small bones between the toes and the top of the foot. Metatarsals are the equivalent in the foot of the bones in the palm. Stress fractures are common in athletes and are caused by repeated trauma to a bone. They resemble small cracks in the bone but can turn into overt fractures, actually severing and displacing the bone. The navicular bone -- which occupies a position in the foot somewhat like the keystone of an arch and is therefore particularly vulnerable -- can be fractured this way, as can the base of the fifth metatarsal.
After a visual examination and questioning the patient, the injury can be diagnosed with an X-ray of the foot, which will reveal the location of the fracture.
If it's a small or hairline fracture, a cast will stabilize the bone and allow it to heal itself. If it's a bad break, surgery to realign the bones may be necessary. Often, patients need to wear a cast or splint on the foot, depending on how bad the break is, and will have to use crutches for a while. If no splint is required, to reduce swelling it's important to keep the foot elevated while sitting or lying down. If possible, the foot should be kept above heart level. Ice should also be applied to the injury for 15-20 minutes each hour for the first 1-2 days. Crutches are recommended to avoid putting any weight on the injured foot until cleared by a physician. Then the athlete can slowly increase the amount of time using the foot, stopping as soon as it begins to feel painful.
Proper warmup and conditioning will help prevent some foot bone breaks. Also, proper athletic footwear with support will help prevent this type of injury.
Recovery time varies by severity of the injury and location of the break. Minor breaks may heal in 2-4 weeks. For more serious breaks, recovery could take two months.
Catchers are particularly vulnerable to foot breaks, especially while protecting the plate with a baserunner sliding into him, errant foul balls, and the like. While catching, though, players often wear a shell-like covering over their feet.