(Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)
Although the original recovery time with Andre Ethier‘s fractured right tibia was estimated at 10-14 weeks, the Dodgers’ outfielder is doing everything possible to optimize the healing process and conceivably speed up his return to the team.
Right now, Ethier isn’t wearing a cast, but rather a fitted brace that is completely removable. He’s also utilizing a healing technique known as “vibration therapy,” which employs an electrical bone stimulator that tucks into his pants.
Ethier told Bill Plunkett of the OC Register that he’s relieved to have avoided surgery, and in addition to trying the most technologically advanced treatments, he’s added a few special foods to his diet known for their regenerative properties.
“The biggest part, I think, is that I escaped having to have any kind of surgery on this,” Ethier said. “It’s one where we can allow it to heal. That just takes some time and who knows how much time. We’re doing everything we can. I’m wearing a bone stimulator 24/7 right now that I have tucked into my pants. I’m doing laser treatments, all kinds of other treatments they can come up with. I’m eating kale and chrysanthemums because they’re high in vitamin K. I heard that helps. We’re going to see.”
For those not familiar with the term “tibia,” it is more commonly known as the shin bone — the long bone in the front of the leg that connects the knee to the ankle. It’s often recognized as the strongest weightbearing bone in the body.
Doctors advised Ethier not to put any pressure on his leg and to use crutches for mobility purposes when necessary. After about six weeks, he’ll be reassessed to assure the bone is healing properly.
When batting, Ethier typically wears both a knee brace and a shin guard. There’s about a three inch gap between the two, and the foul ball that fractured his leg found the exact spot where there’s normally no protection.
“Yeah, it hit right above my shin guard,” Ethier told Plunkett. “I try to have that thing as protected as possible. I’ve worn a hard outer one that you can see visually but I wasn’t comfortable with it and I switched to this more of a shin-guard style that you pull over, pretty much the same size. But I don’t know if I have to switch to a full soccer shin guard or something now. I don’t know. It was one that just hit me in the right spot.”
Manager Dave Roberts and the rest of the Dodgers’ staff are doing everything possible to facilitate both the healing and rehabilitative processes. Roberts gave Ethier the option of rehabbing in Los Angeles, or staying back in Arizona at his home with his family.
“If he wants to do his rehab here until he starts doing baseball-related activities, there’s really no need for him to be with us,” Roberts informed J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News. “I’d rather him be comfortable and keep his mind right on as he’s rehabbing.”
Doing everything correctly and striving for the best results may not actually speed up the healing process, but the entire Dodgers’ organization and fans alike are hoping that it may minimize Ethier’s absence more to the 10-week side instead of a worst-case 14 weeks or more.
In the meantime, many are speculating that versatile outfielder Trayce Thompson takes Ethier’s spot on the 25-man roster. Thompson and the rest of the Dodgers’ outfield will have big shoes to fill, as Ethier’s 2015 numbers indicated a trend back towards his prime Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award years.