Griffin: Villanueva suffers mysterious cold hand injury
DUNEDIN, FLA.-Jays' middle reliever, veteran Carlos Villanueva understandably panicked on Saturday when he encountered a strange feeling in his right hand, that on a cool February morning had suddenly gone colder than the weather. This unprecedented affliction came just one day after throwing a normal side bullpen session at the Mattick Training Centre. But, two days later, on Monday afternoon, after playing catch with pitching coach Bruce Walton, Villanueva was feeling almost back to his usual self.
“That felt pretty close to normal," Villanueva, with a tinge of relief in his voice. "It was a pretty scary day on Saturday. I came in expececting everything to be normal, but my 2:00 o'clock I'm in e.r. getting a tube stuck down my groin and up to my arm. It's very surreal, but I got the tests back and everything from those tests appears to be negative."
When he came off the field on Saturday, a non-throwing day, he went in to see trainer George Poulis because of the sensaton of blood rushing from his right elbow to his hand. Not only could Poulis not round up any reading of bllod pressure, but he could not find a pulse. They immediately drove the 28-year-old Dominican to a local hospital.
"We went to the e.r. and did a bevy of tests," Villanueva recalled. "Now I feel close to normal. My hand still doesn't feel 100-percent, but I'm going to be on some medication which should help a lot, starting tomorrow. Doctors are encouraged by it so that encourages me. I haven't really got any concrete explanation. What I do know is that my circulation is a little slower from my elbow to my hand. We don't know why that is yet. It doesn't appear to be anything life-threatening or career-threatening, so that's good. Tomorrow I'm going to try and come here and just have a normal day, take it from there."
Last year, in his 13th game as an emergency starter, emerging from the bullpen to help the team out, Villanueva was placed on the disabled list following his August 3 start in Tampa Bay. He returned to action, back out of the bullpen on September 2. The arm ailment was not officially diagnosed and was in the realm of tired arm, but Villanueva has been assured that this current problem is not related.
“I asked that question, they said no," Villanueva said. "They said this didn't have anything to do with that, because of the location and whatever. They did do the test that determined if it's possible. That was one of my first questions. That was something I hadn't gone through before either. So we ruled that out pretty quick. My mom has some circulation problems, so maybe it's hereditary. But I would be jumping to conclusions because we really haven't got anything. But I know I'm safe and if they cleared me to get back to work I feel pretty good about it."
Villanueva, obtained from the Brewers prior to the '11 season, was 6-4, with a 4.04 ERA in 33 games for the Jays, with those 13 starts.