Thursday, May 29, 2008

Doctors Concerned Over Ryan Church Brain Trauma

The diagnosis for Mets outfielder Ryan Church remains hopeful, though doctors are refusing to trivialize Church's risk of significant traumatic brain trauma following magnetic resonance imaging that was less than entirely conclusive.

Though Church has been released from Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, he remains a carefully monitored outpatient as he is manifesting potentially lingering post concussive syndrome. Of greatest concern is that Church continues to have memory loss, a symptom frequently accompanied by loss of concentration, headaches, dizziness, depression and a stressful reaction to bright lights, especially direct sunlight.

Church sustained his second concussion this year when he collided with Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar in a baserunning mishap in Atlanta 10 days ago, with Church taking Escobar's knee to the head so violently that Church has no recollection of the incident, according to the team.

If Church fails to return to normal soon, he likely will be placed on the disabled list, though the Mets are trying to avoid that out of concern that once taken out of action, he might quickly recover but could not immediately return to play. Church is essential to the team, as he plays effective defense while batting more than .300 with a team-leading nine homers.

Though the concussion continues to be evaluated as "mild," the injury is not entirely predictable, with Church's worst case scenario seeing him missing significant playing time, such as Brewers third baseman Corey Koskie. Koskie has missed all of this season and last due to similar but presumably much more severe head trauma, even though Koskie's impact was seemingly slight compared to that endured by Church.

Even if Church quickly recovers, he must make a decision as to whether he desires to continue to expose himself to further injury, the ramifications of which could be very severe.