Ben Brown Diagnosed with Stress Reaction in Neck, Recovery Timeline Unknown

Craig Counsell told reporters prior to Friday’s game that Ben Brown has been diagnosed with a stress reaction in one of the vertebrae in his neck. The manager called it “a little bit of a rare injury for a pitcher” and said they still don’t know exactly what it means for Brown moving forward. It seems we’ve been hearing more about stress reactions — which are precursors of stress fractures — over the last few years, but that’s mainly a matter of greater awareness and imaging techniques.

Most Cubs fans probably first learned of stress reactions when it was revealed that Yu Darvish was dealing with one through his troublesome 2018 campaign in Chicago. Traditional imaging may not reveal the injury, so it can sometimes be necessary to perform an arthrogram MRI like the one Darvish underwent. That’s when a solution made from X-ray dye, lidocaine, and MRI contrast is injected into the body to facilitate more detailed images than could otherwise be provided.

I have no idea whether Brown required such a test, but Counsell noted earlier in the week that the big righty had been dealing with the issue for quite some time. It’s entirely possible he’d had other tests done previously with no success and then went the more extensive route recently. Regardless of how they arrived at a diagnosis, the important part now is treatment and recovery.

The uncommon nature of this injury makes it difficult to speculate on a timeline, but it seems reasonable to expect Brown to spend more than the minimum time on the IL.

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