Quentin's season in jeopardy
AL homer leader to have surgery on broken wrist on Monday
CHICAGO -- During his incredible breakout effort throughout the 2008 season, Carlos Quentin has made a name for himself as not just the American League home run leader but also a clutch hitter with a keen batting eye.
Then, there's Quentin's intensity. It's the drive behind the All-Star's on-field success, that steely, fixed look in his eyes showing he's ready for each and every game.
It's this high intensity and quest for perfection that also has spelled out the end of Quentin's AL Most Valuable Player candidacy and possibly ended his campaign in mid-glory, putting a crimp in the White Sox September playoff push. The left fielder will undergo surgery Monday morning at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and have a screw inserted into his fractured right wrist.
Quentin will be out of action for at least two to three weeks, then his progress will be re-evaluated, meaning he won't even have a chance to return until the last week of the regular season. The playoffs appear to be a more realistic possibility, although far from a certainty.
And how did Quentin come to this unfortunate state? The fracture did not stem from one of the 20 times Quentin has been hit by a pitch this season. Instead, it came from a rather insignificant at-bat during the ninth inning of Monday's 5-0 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field.
Cliff Lee, the AL Cy Young Award front-runner, stood two outs away from win No. 20. Quentin fouled off the second pitch from Lee and, in frustration, punched the bat being held in his left hand with a closed-fisted right hand.
"What did happen, it's kind of unfortunate and something that, geez, I still have trouble believing it happened that way," said Quentin, speaking to reporters in the White Sox dugout prior to Friday's series opener against the Angels. "Something I've done thousands of times since I was a kid.
"I kind of hit down on the bat head with my right hand, closed fist. I hit it a little bit low, nicked my wrist. I woke up the next morning and that was that. It's something I've done a lot. Unfortunately, it hit the bone perfectly and not in a good spot."
Monday's fateful at-bat finished in a game-ending double play, but Quentin has put that moment behind him -- along with the aftershocks. He had time to reflect on the injury after finding out the prognosis on Thursday.
Other options existed for Quentin. He could have had a cast put on, but that solution would have meant a clear-cut end to the season. Quentin also could have waited to see if the pain calmed down a bit, but then again, he is dealing with a fracture.
"Those are long-term issues that everyone felt it was something we didn't want to delve into," Quentin said.
"Remember that old Michael Jordan line, where you can play when you are hurt but not when you are injured?" White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker added. "When it's broke, it's pretty much shut down. It's very disappointing, and especially for him. You don't see players have the kind of year he was having very often."
Through 130 games played, Quentin carries a .288 average with 36 home runs and 100 RBIs. Quentin also leads the White Sox with 96 runs scored, a .571 slugging percentage and a .394 on-base percentage.
Many pundits have ranked Quentin as the AL MVP favorite. If not the top candidate, he's certainly in a small group for consideration, including Boston's Dustin Pedroia, Minnesota's Justin Morneau and the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez.
"If not for him we'd probably be five to 10 games out. That's about the only thing I can say," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said before the Sox put their 1 1/2-game Central lead on the line. "That sums it up. That's the best compliment I can give him."
Added outfielder Nick Swisher: "Not only losing him for the playoff push, but I think for him in general, with all the wonderful things that he's done, for him to go down like this is disappointing."
Swisher will move to left in Quentin's absence, with the non-waiver Trade Deadline addition of Ken Griffey Jr. now holding even greater current importance. Brian Anderson, Dewayne Wise and Jerry Owens also will receive playing time.
As for Quentin's immediate future, putting the screw in his wrist allows him to have greater mobility and a better rehab process so his arm won't atrophy. But the intense competitor, wanting to get back to help the White Sox if they reach the playoffs, has to balance the possibility for long-term damage.
Worry is not one of the emotions felt by the confident young man, who went from the roster bubble in Spring Training to his first All-Star appearance. He's staying positive and holding on to every hope he can get better as fast as possible.
"We've gone over every scenario possible, every option possible," Quentin said. "We've explored everything that would allow me to get on the field as fast as possible. We are going with this option because it gives me a chance to maybe get back on the field. You weigh that with my health long term, and I understand that's an issue.
"They feel confident the way it's fractured -- it's not serious to the point where it's a career-threatening issue. I feel confident with all the information they have given me that in the right circumstance where it's healed the right way, I feel if they give me the OK, I'm going to do it."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.