Paging Dr. Rosenrosen – Hamate Bone Fractures


Up until about 5 years ago, I never heard of the hamate bone.  But now it seems like every month or so you hear about a player needing to have his hamate bone removed.  This hit home last week with the news that rising prospect Robbie Grossman had his Arizona Fall League season cut short by fracturing his hamate bone.  You usually hear the same standard quote about the hamate bone surgery: “After removal, this will sap the player’s power potential in the short-term, but the player will be fine in the long-term.”  I was curious about the hamate bone and did a little research on the subject.

Where is the hamate bone?  If you take either hand and turn it over so the palm is facing up, the hamate is at the bottom of the ring finger where it meets the metacarpal bones, just above the wrist.

What does “hamate” mean?  Hamate is Latin for “hooked”.  The hamate is wedge-shaped in nature, with a small hook protrusion on the back side of the bone.

How does a hamate bone fracture?  If you were like me, you may have thought that hamate bone fractures were due to the player getting hit by a pitch.  While that may be true in some cases, what happens most of the time is that the player overswings or swings and makes blunt impact with a stationary object.   When the bat is stopped by this stationary object, the force is transmitted through the wrist closest to the point of contact (typically the non-dominant hand) and the fracture occurs.  It seems the majority of hamate fractures among athletes are by golfers swinging and hitting into the ground when striking the ball.

What are the symptoms of a hamate bone fracture?  Any type of action involve gripping will cause pain to flare.  The hamate is also connected in some fashion to the ulnar nerve system that runs the entire length of the arm, so any flexing of the pinkie or ring finger will cause pain.

Is the whole hamate bone removed?  No, although it is sure perceived that way during most reports.  What is removed is the hook portion of the bone.  The remaining wedge stays in place.

Apparently in the past the treatment was to place a small cast on the hand and forearm and hope that it healed naturally in 6 weeks.  However, studies were showing that greater than 50% of the fractures were still “non-union”, so the surgical option came into play.  Flexor tendons in the hands can also be prone to rupture if the hook continues to irritate the situation.

All reports are saying that Grossman should be healed by Spring Training and ready to resume normal baseball activities.

Share This Article

Pittsburgh Pirates 2011 Rule 5 Draft Eligible Players

Next Story »

The Truth About Waiver Claims

  • Anonymous

     Thanks Kevin, I did not know anything about the hamate bone except players get it and they claim it saps their power, now Grossman has a built in excuse for not hitting home runs, does not have to say the sun got in his eyes for at least a year.

  • Nate Wilder

    Would that fact that Grossman switch hits benefit him in any way? Will he only lose power from one side of the plate then?

    • Anonymous

      That’s a really good question.  I’m not sure how if affects switch hitters, as most of the hamates that I can remember when not switch hitters.

      • Nate Wilder

         I’ll try to dig up some more on that.

Latest Analysis

  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    What is the Difference Between Mel Rojas and Keon Broxton?

    5 hours ago

    Mel Rojas Jr. was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round of the 2010 MLB draft. The son of the former big league closer had ...

    Read More
  • Jose Tabata

    The Details of Jose Tabata’s New Swing

    2 days ago

    On Friday I wrote about how Jose Tabata talked to Marlon Byrd over the off-season, aimed at changing his swing to add some leverage, lift the ball, ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    What Led to Keon Broxton’s Breakout Year in Altoona?

    3 days ago

    Keon Broxton used to be one of the top prospects in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system. Baseball America ranked him as high as tenth in the system ...

    Read More
  • Adrian Sampson

    Don’t Forget About This Pitcher When Creating Your Pirates Dream Rotation

    4 days ago

    If you’re setting up a dream rotation for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the not-too-distant future, then you’re going to be throwing out names like Tyler Glasnow, Gerrit ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    Jose Tabata Changed His Swing After Talking With Marlon Byrd

    4 days ago

    Yesterday, Jose Tabata put one on the roof of the batting cages over the left-field fence at Pirate City. Today, he added two more. By that pattern, ...

    Read More
  • Antonio Bastardo

    How Ray Searage is Trying to Fix Antonio Bastardo’s Control Issues

    5 days ago

    Tony Watson has established himself as one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. Out of 142 qualified relievers last year, he ranked 21st in WAR, ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles