Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Justin Morneau's 'Lung Contusion' an Exaggeration

Forget most of what major news outlets have published recently about Twins first baseman Justin Morneau's chest injury. It appears its seriousness has been greatly exaggerated.

Morneau was carried off on a stretcher last Friday after a homeplate collision with Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo. But though he was spitting blood and was reported as having sustained a potentially serious lung contusion, the diagnosis now appears to have been either utterly mistaken or a result of doctors or trainers deliberately erring on the side of caution, though don't expect anyone to admit it.

Morneau has now completed yet another round of tedious medical tests and examinations at University Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he is an outpatient. Knowledgable sources in Minnesota and elsewhere are openly scoffing at the original injury analysis, noting that lung contusions as a result of homeplate collisions are extremely unlikely.

Repeated tomographical examinations of Morneau's chest injury have shown almost beyond a doubt that Morneau was not seriously harmed, with his brief bleeding episode perhaps attributable to minor trauma to the tongue, mouth, throat or post-nasal passage.

Lung contusions can be very serious, resulting in various pulmonary complications and even death in rare instances. But they usually are associated with high-speed automobile collisions, air crashes or a falls from great heights. They are most often colateral to violent fractures, and X-Rays show conclusively that Morneau has no broken bones.

Normally lung contusions would require a month or more of rest and rehabilitation. If such injuries were so common as to result from everyday homeplate contact, half the skill position players in the NFL would likely finish each football season on the disabled list.

Morneau has been protesting for days that he is well and able to return to the field. He is right. Morneau will be in uniform well before the end of the week.