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Mets playoffs: Possible diagnoses for Juan Uribe's injury

The burly infielder has been left off the NLDS roster.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets are in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, but they'll have to face the Dodgers in the NLDS without Juan Uribe. Uribe will miss the NLDS, but there has not been much information released about his injury, its diagnosis, and his recovery. While we don't have sufficient information to draw any conclusions, we can still speculate on what the injury could possibly be.

What happened and what do we know?

In a game with the Yankees on September 20, Uribe dove attempting to field a ground ball and fell on his chest. X-rays were negative, indicating no bones were fractured, and an MRI was negative as well, meaning there was no significant tissue damage. In the end, the Mets stated that Uribe has a deep chest contusion. Five days later, Uribe re-aggravated this injury after a check swing in a game at Cincinnati. X-rays were once again negative.

What could have been damaged?

Terry Collins has consistently mentioned that Uribe has aggravated the cartilage in his chest. The cartilage he is referring to is the cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum (i.e., the breast bone). I think another part of the body that could have potentially been injured is the sternoclavicular (SC) joint. This joint connects the clavicle to the sternum, thus attaching the arm to the chest. Given his pain levels and the two plays on which he hurt himself, the SC joint could have easily taken a beating on both plays resulting in altered movement/mechanics of the joint.

Possible diagnoses

Costochondral Separation – This means that the cartilage between the ribs and the sternum has torn, resulting in a separation (small or large) between the rib and the cartilage. As with most rib issues, breathing becomes very painful as well as any movement with trunk rotation (e.g., swinging a bat). Once the cartilage has healed, physical therapists will make sure the ribs can move appropriately and the person's breathing has returned to normal before starting any sports-specific activity. If this is the case, Uribe likely won’t return until the World Series.

Rib Stress Fracture – Stress fractures are exactly what they sound like. The bone has undergone too much stress, which causes a slight fracture in the bone. Stress fractures usually result from repetitive forces on a bone (similar to shin splints after running) but they can result from a traumatic incident (e.g., from a fall or dive). Typically it takes four weeks for an X-ray to pick up a stress fracture, so this diagnosis is very plausible given the limited information we know. Depending on the severity of the stress fracture, Uribe could likely return for the World Series, maybe even the NLCS.

SC Joint Dislocation – Dislocation of the SC joint is very likely given the way Uribe hit the ground on the dive. The severity of the dislocation is based on the damage of the ligaments between the sternum and clavicle. If it is a first-degree dislocation, Uribe will likely play at some point in October, however his season is likely done if it is a second- or third-degree disclocation.

Costochondritis – This injury is the inflammation of the cartilage in between the ribs and the sternum. As the inflammation subsides, the pain will as well and Uribe will be able to ease himself back into baseball activities. The cause of costochondritis is unknown and it seems unlikely this is the diagnosis, but one would want to explicitly rule this out.

Chest Contusion – Of course, it could just be a really bad bruise as initially reported and Uribe would return based on his pain tolerance levels.

Bottom Line

I should stress again that given how little information the Mets have shared, I really have no idea what the diagnosis for Uribe's injury. However, these are some of the possible diagnoses that came to mind given the information released and after watching the video from each play. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but these are definitely some of the diagnoses that the doctors and medical staff considered when examining Uribe. As a result, I cannot really give a timeline on when Uribe will return, but he has already been ruled out for the NLDS and my bet is that Uribe is very questionable to be on the NLCS roster (should the Mets advance that far).