Werth was struck on the outside of the left wrist by a A.J. Burnett fastball, suffering what initially was diagnosed as an avulsion or chip fracture when the ulna bone pushed into the radius bone. It took three teams of doctors two years and two operations before discovering that the lingering pain he was experiencing in a different location than the contact was actually a small ligament tear. Doctors theorized the secondary injury was suffered when Werth recoiled at the precise moment of the pitch's impact.
Garciaparra also knows well the difficulty in properly diagnosing injuries of the wrist, which consists of numerous small bones and soft tissue. He played most of the 2000 season in pain after being struck on the same right wrist. The following April, doctors finally discovered a split tendon away from the point of impact that required surgical repair and limited him to only 21 Major League games in 2001.
Garciaparra's current injury, along with injuries to Andy LaRoche and Tony Abreu, have opened the door at third base for rookie Blake DeWitt, who was added to Major League camp after Garciaparra's injury. LaRoche is expected to be out until mid-May with surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. Abreu has been slow to return following October sports hernia surgery.
"Blake DeWitt has a heck of an opportunity to hang out with the big boys," said manager Joe Torre. "He has an opportunity to play regularly with the Dodgers in Spring Training."
DeWitt, a left-handed-hitting former first-round Draft pick, split time last year between Class A and Double-A. Torre said the staff has offered mixed reviews on whether DeWitt, only 22, is ready for the Major Leagues.
"Some say yes, some say maybe," Torre said of DeWitt's readiness. "The whole package you need to have, he may be lacking. It all comes down to what I see."
General manager Ned Colletti, who, along with Torre, spent the past week on the China journey and hasn't seen much of DeWitt, said he would likely watch DeWitt play for a week before deciding if he needs to acquire an infielder from another organization. DeWitt already has impressed teammates with his gumption.
The infield situation is further clouded by the lingering hamstring injury of second baseman Jeff Kent, who worked out with the club on Wednesday but cannot run until the end of the week after receiving an injection on Monday.
Abreu played seven innings on Tuesday and was said to have no ill effects. However, he was a late arrival to Wednesday's optional practice after being called at the team's hotel.