Sure, the news Friday for the Chicago White Sox could have been worse. U.S. Cellular Field could have been condemned. A Black Sox Scandal II could have been uncovered. Ozzie Guillen's arch-enemy columnist, Jay Mariotti, could have been re-hired.
But failing those disastrous possibilities, dang, it's difficult to imagine anything much worse for the poor White Sox than slugger Carlos Quentin heading to the surgeon's table.
He will undergo surgery Monday and have a screw inserted into his fractured right wrist. He'll be re-evaluated in two or three weeks and, though he hopes to salvage the season, it doesn't look good. There is a very real possibility that he's done for the year.
Wrist injuries, particularly serious wrist injuries, are temperamental things, and for the White Sox, losing Quentin is no less of a blow than if Boston were to lose David Ortiz, or the Los Angeles Angels were to lose Vladimir Guerrero. That's how important he's been to them in his first season on the South Side.
Sox general manager Kenny Williams absolutely stole Quentin from Arizona last winter, sending infielder Chris Carter to the desert in exchange, and Quentin has responded with a Most Valuable Player-type season. He leads the AL with 36 homers, ranks fifth in the AL with 100 RBIs and has provided needed heft for the White Sox lineup.
"He's had a phenomenal year," general manager Bill Smith, whose Minnesota Twins are battling the White Sox for the AL Central title, said Friday afternoon. "He was probably one of the best pickups of the year.
"You never like to see players get hurt, and I'm sorry to see this. He's had a huge impact for them every game he's played against us this year, I can tell you that."
The Sox play the Twins three more times, at Minnesota from Sept. 223-25, in what likely will be a key series to determine the AL Central title. Entering the weekend, the White Sox had opened a 1 1/2-game lead on Minnesota.
Most aggravating, and manager Ozzie Guillen was vocal about it before Chicago opened its weekend series with the Angels, was the fact that the probable season-ending injury appears self-induced. Quentin says he angrily slammed his bat with his right fist after missing a pitch during his final at-bat Monday in Cleveland. It's something he's always done, Quentin says, only this time, he missed his spot and hit the bat with his wrist instead of his fist.
Undoubtedly, it will go down in the freak-injury annals of stretch-run baseball. Nobody ever plans on getting hurt, but Quentin's fracture would be more understandable if, say, it occurred when he was hit by a pitch.
"Quentin is one of those guys who's led every league he's ever played in in being hit by a pitch," one scout said Friday.
Quentin, who has been hit by a pitch an AL-leading 20 times this season, also led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in hit-by-pitches in both 2006 (31) and 2005 (29), and he led the Class A California League in 2004 (27).
Now, thanks to one brief instant in which his self-discipline disappeared, Quentin is out.
And no surgery is going to fix the hole he's leaving in the middle of the White Sox lineup.