How much time could Victor Martinez miss?
The Tigers announced Thursday that Victor Martinez will have surgery next week for a torn left medial meniscus. They did not, however, announce how much time he might miss. There’s a good reason for that, because the type of surgery Dr. James Andrews performs will have a major difference in the recovery time, and it won’t be apparent which procedure makes the most sense until Dr. Andrews goes in.
When Martinez tore his ACL and meniscus in the same knee a few years ago, one of the experts I talked to was Dr. Victor Khabie, Chief of Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, NY. He had a good grasp on the type of surgeries Martinez had, both to repair the ACL and the meniscus. When I called him again Thursday, he knew what I was going to ask about.
The minor surgery is called a partial meniscectomy, in which a little bit of the meniscus is clipped. The major surgery is a reattachment, in which the damaged meniscus is put back together.
“The difference,” he said, “is where the meniscus is torn, and how much of the meniscus is broken. There are areas where the meniscus has a good blood supply. If it’s torn in that specific spot, all systems have to be right.”
The difference is a recovery that weeks and one that takes months.
“Most ballplayers at his level, especially since he’s had multiple surgeries, are going to want to go in and do a clipping,” Dr. Khabie said. “One, because it gets you back much quicker. Two, because the tear isn’t in that specific zone. Ninety percent of the tears are not in that critical zone.”
Age is also a factor, because the blood flow — and thus, the healing potential — often aren’t as good.
The recovery timetable for the more minor surgery is often four to six weeks. Because Martinez had previous surgeries on the knee, Dr. Khabie said, they could be more cautious and give him more like six to eight weeks if he has that procedure. That would take him to mid to late March.
“This could be a little different than, say, someone who had the surgery but had no prior problems,” he said.
By contrast, the full reattachment can take several months.
Long-term, the clean-out has effects, such as the possibility of arthritis. However, that would be more of a factor after his playing days are done, and he’s sitting around watching his son Victor Jose try to make it in baseball.