On Sunday morning, hours before the final game of the regular season, Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain felt discomfort radiating from the bone bruise on his right knee. His message to the training staff and manager Ned Yost was direct, enough to scratch his name out of the day’s lineup.
“I told them if there was any soreness, give me a day,” Cain said. “That’s what’s going on.”
Cain will receive four days off to improve his condition. He expects to be ready for Thursday’s Game 1 of the American League Division Series. But there is still reason to be concerned about Cain, who is likely to finish in the top five in American League MVP voting after swatting a career-best 16 homers and punching up an .838 OPS.
The bone bruise is likely to nag him for the next three to four weeks. “They don’t heal quick,” Yost explained, and Cain dealt with a similar situation last fall.
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Cain suffered a bone bruise on the outer side of his left knee last October. He still played inspired baseball. Cain posted a .805 OPS in the playoffs and won the MVP award for the American League Championship Series.
The injury this fall will be more cumbersome. Cain resembled a man with leaden legs when he ran on Saturday, despite tallying two doubles and the go-ahead, RBI infield single. He limped around the clubhouse after the game.
“It’s not anything that’s overly concerning,” trainer Nick Kenney said. “But you’ve got to understand that it’s not likely a soft-tissue bruise. It’s a management, day-to-day, type deal.”
With an injury like this, Kenney explained, the main concern is monitoring to Cain’s symptoms and preventing the development of a fracture.
“You have to pay attention to it,” Kenney said. “Because when you have a bone bruise, there is a weak spot in that bone. And if you continually put it at a disadvantage, over and over again, it’ll eventually turn into a line, which means a fracture.”
Cain acknowledged the potential pain waiting for him during the next month. He intends to be as proactive about managing it as possible.
“We’ll just try to knock it out,” Cain said. “Because I want to feel as good as I can when it’s crunch time. So that’s the plan.”