Brandon Belt's chronic knee injury isn’t just limiting his production with the Giants, but it also could be putting his career in danger.
His latest setback came earlier this week when the 34-year-old first baseman was placed on the IL with right knee inflammation.
So how worried should Giants fans be?
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NBC Sports Bay Area Giants insider Alex Pavlovic spoke with Stanford Medicine Dr. Seth Sherman about just how compromised Belt is given his age and history of knee injuries.
“I think a key point here is that we’re really talking about more of a chronic situation where you’ve had multiple previous surgeries,” Dr. Sherman said. “[He’s] been able to recover, but now having a recurrent swelling. It’s very different than an acute, traumatic injury like a fracture or an ACL, and we think about these differently.”
Belt has had the same knee repaired twice surgically. In 2018, he had season-ending surgery with his meniscus getting cleaned up for the second time in four years. He also had a microfracture procedure done to help repair damaged cartilage.
Four years later, the knee issues persist.
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And Belt has had his knee drained probably more times than we might know.
San Francisco placed Belt on the 10-day IL, but Dr. Sherman explained what future, long-term steps need to be taken for Belt to get to a point where he can play like he is used to.
"At this point, he’s on the reserve so they’re going to be doing all the typical things we do to reduce inflammation, relative rest, rehabilitation, medications, consider other options and of course, they’re going to be getting imaging. X-rays, MRIs, doing thorough clinical investigation to understand what’s going on under the surface," Dr. Sherman said. "There’s a lot of causes and I don’t know specifics here but given history of prior knee surgery, you obviously think about how much meniscus there is, you think about cartilage surfaces, you think about alignment, we do think about a variety of other overload type conditions."
We keep constantly hearing and seeing the word "chronic" get tossed around Belt and his injury. Those seven letters together typically mean the end of a professional career is near, at least from what we have seen from athletes across professional sports.
While it's definitely a concern for Belt, Dr. Sherman knows nothing is impossible. After all, Bay Area athletes making a major comeback from injury isn't all that uncommon around here.
“I think one thing we learn is our elite athletes are resilient," Dr. Sherman said. "They have a great capacity to compensate for a variety of injuries, bounce back from injuries and surgeries so I think at this point, cautious optimism, getting information, treating him and hoping for the best. Obviously careers are never forever. A 20-year-old is different than a 30 or 40-year-old, but at the same time, there are plenty of people playing well into their 30s as you know."
And for now, the ship hasn't sailed just yet for Captain Belt.