July 20, 2012 at 9:37 AM
FREDERICK, Md. --- In years past, injuries to the hamate bone, one in a group of small bones at the base of the hand, have accounted for lost seasons from a number of Red Sox prospects. But despite suffering a hamate injury of his own in late May, Salem outfielder Brandon Jacobs (pictured) is hardly showing the affects this season.
In Thursday’s 11-1 rout of Frederick, Jacobs showed a bit of the power hamate injuries are notorious for sapping. After singling in the first and third innings, Jacobs clubbed a two-run shot to left-center for his eighth homer of the season in the fifth. Jacobs finished the day with four hits and four RBI.
“This is probably the best that (my hand) has been,” Jacobs said earlier this week. “I’m not really getting too much feeling out of it. Swinging and missing early was just not good, but you get used to it and just go on with it.”
An injury to the hamate bone, located near the base of the hand opposite the thumb, causes discomfort “either way you move it,” Jacobs said. “Holding a bat, it’s really tender, really weak. It’s painful. You probably get the most wrist pain first, then you start getting it down in the actual hamate. It’s not bad now, but for a while, it’s terrible. You know when you break it.”
Jacobs missed two weeks with the injury to his left hand, (the bottom hand for Jacobs, a right-handed hitter), and said there was a bit of a mental hurdle to clear once he returned. “It was just a kind of thing where you’re swinging in fear, hoping just not to reinjure it,” he said.
In years past, outfielder Ryan Kalish and former Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie felt the effects of their hamate injuries for much longer than Jacobs. Lowrie’s injury effectively cost him the 2009 season, when he spent most of the year rehabbing but hit just .147 in three stints with Boston. Kalish suffered his hamate injury in 2007 with Lowell and wasn’t back to full strength until his 2009 campaign with Salem and Double-A Portland.
When Salem wraps up its season in early September, Jacobs said doctors in Boston will decide whether the bone needs to be removed. Until then, Jacobs, who is wearing extra padding on his hand and has been taping his wrist tighter than usual, said he feels 100-percent healthy. Salem manager Billy McMillon said the injuries are behind Jacobs, meaning he can get the repetitions he needs for his development.
“I think the more he sees, the more pitches he sees, the more game situations he sees, the better off he’s going to be,” McMillon said. “His numbers aren’t like they were last year, but this is a higher level. The pitching is a little bit better.
Jacobs’ home run Thursday was his eighth of the season, putting him behind the pace of his surprising 2011 campaign. He hit .303/.376/.505 with 17 home runs last year with Low A Greenville, compared to his .285/.340/.436 line in 75 games this year with Salem. McMillon, however, doesn’t put much stock into the year-by-year numbers.
“I don’t know what anyone was really expecting,” he said. “I think they were hoping for a similar season as he had last year, but he’s consistently around that .280 range, displays some power from time to time. If he shows up every day and is willing to work, put in some time and effort to get that experience, I think he’s got a chance.”
Photo credit: Brandon Jacobs by Kelly O'Connor.
Jon Meoli is a Senior Columnist for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMeoli.