We briefly mentioned this last night in the post about Jason Tyner, but it appears that Marcus Thames's rib cage injury is more serious than initially expected. Here's the explanation from Tigers head trainer Kevin Rand:
"He's got a fairly significant left rib cage muscle strain," Rand said.
Not only was the muscle strained, Rand said, but so was the cartilage around it and the rib. That explains the pop that Thames felt when he injured it.
"I heard a pop and felt a pop," Thames said. "I knew it wasn't something good, because it took the breath out of me for a little bit."
It could be a month before Thames even begins rehabilitation. Throwing a baseball, swinging a bat, or lifting weights is probably off limits until then. So basically, all Thames can do is just try to rest and heal. And for someone who was already still trying to find his swing after missing time in Spring Training, this is quite a setback.
Could this injury be connected to Thames's abdominal strain during the spring? Rand says it's a possibility, as you never know if an injury in one place forces an athlete to compensate in other areas of his body.
Regardless, it's a tough break for a guy who looked like he'd be getting a strong chance after Gary Sheffield was released. Thames was already losing time to Josh Anderson and the Tigers' new preference for speed and a "small ball" approach, but as we saw on Tuesday night when he wasn't available to pinch-hit, this injury takes a serious weapon out of Jim Leyland's arsenal. (Plus, it gives Ryan Raburn more opportunities to badly misjudge fly balls in right field.)