A medical overview, plus how it affects LSU pitching
LSU junior right-handed pitcher Anthony Ranaudo said he’s dealing with a lot of emotions after learning he will miss an indefinite number of starts because of what he and team officials describe as “discomfort” and “pain” in his “sore” right elbow.
Ranaudo won’t pitch this weekend, coach Paul Mainieri said, so junior right-hander Austin Ross will inherit his role as the Friday night starter against William & Mary.
“I didn’t miss a start once last year, and so it’s kind of hard for me to grasp things that way,” Ranaudo said today, “but at the same time, I know it’s early, and I know we’re being very cautious right now, and I’d rather be strong in May and June and when we make our run at the end of the year, hopefully.”
CLICK HERE to hear the full interview with Ranaudo.
Ranaudo, a returning All-American, said his absence will give others a chance to pitch. That part of it, he and pitching coach David Grewe said, is a good thing.
“I look at it as a positive,” Grewe said. “I want to spin it into a positive and that’s what I’ll address the pitching staff with.”
CLICK HERE to hear the full interview with Grewe.
“This whole circumstance is an opportunity for other players to rise up and learn in game situations here early,” Grewe said, “versus being put in those game situations like last year in the SEC tournament, where Nolan Cain and Ryan Byrd and other kids had to step up.
“Now, we’re going to see where guys are right now, and they’re going to be able to learn.”
One of the biggest ways Ranaudo’s absence will affect the staff is Ross won’t have the usual information about William & Mary’s hitters he would have as the Saturday pitcher following Ranaudo the night before. Joey Bourgeois, who began the season as the Sunday starter, will be affected the same way, because now he’ll be the Saturday starter.
For now, Ranaudo isn’t doing any throwing.
Mark Field, the team doctor, and Beau Lowery, the athletic trainer assigned to baseball, also see positives about the way Ranaudo’s problems unfolded and became known to them. Had he not told them about the discomfort, which began Opening Night against Centenary, Ranaudo might have developed a more serious injury that could have sidelined him for a month or two during the SEC schedule and postseason.
“Basically it’s early enough to where we can shut him down,” Lowery said, “and as soon as he becomes asymptomatic, we can gradually increase his activity. He can start doing functional stuff again. So there again, you can’t really put a timetable on it. I think it’s something that’s going to be more like as Anthony feels good, he’s going to be able to do stuff.”
The olecranon, the bony point of the elbow bone, becomes uncomfortable and mildly painful when there’s stress on it, Lowery said.
He said there is a little bit of edema, swelling caused by fluid buildup. What Ranaudo has, Lowery said, is a stress reaction, which can be a precursor to a more serious stress fracture. Field doesn’t see many cases of stress reaction because pitchers don’t tell their coaches or trainers and pitch through the pain until it becomes much more serious.
“What Anthony has is basically a mild stress reaction,” Lowery said, whispering because of an onset of laryngitis. “You don’t hear the term ‘stress reaction’ very often. You usually hear stress fracture, but we caught this early enough to where the bone’s just a little bit irritated.”
Ranaudo said he’s not bothered by it when he throws. Some quick movements, including raising his arms to wash his air, bring on the discomfort. On the field, it happens when he separates his hands, removing the ball from his glove to begin his windup.
Mainieri said Ranaudo had some issues before the season, but Ranaudo and Lowery clarified that to say the earlier symptoms were not the same as what happened to Ranaudo in the Feb. 19 season opener, a 5-4 victory against Centenary.
“He had some minor symptoms, not specifically these symptoms, but really Opening Night is when he really had this specific discomfort,” Lowery said.
Grewe said Ranaudo’s fastest pitch that night was 94 mph, and his last three pitches clocked in at 91.
Ranaudo said he felt some tenderness between innings, then he felt the muscles around the bone tighten the next day.
He and Mainieri said he wasn’t in midseason form, but Lowery said that probably was a symptom of it being Opening Night, not the emerging problem with the elbow.
“That’s because these symptoms do not bother him when he’s throwing,” Lowery said. “It’s not a throwing thing.
“I think it was the first start of the year, and knocking some rust off. I don’t think it’s attributable.”
The Tigers had an injury-filled fall, including pitchers who had to miss practice time. Lowery said the team’s in better shape health-wise so far this semester.
“When you have somebody as big and significant as Ranaudo not able to throw, then all of a sudden it looks like, ‘Oh, they’ve got problems,’ but I think Ranaudo’s stuff is going to resolve pretty quickly and, knock on wood, as of today we’re pretty healthy,” Lowery said.
“In baseball that can change today, but I think for right now we’re pretty good.”
Carl Dubois has covered LSU athletics since 1999 and is Tiger Rag’s lead writer for LSU baseball. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.