ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Los Angeles Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella has been diagnosed with fourth cranial nerve palsy, a condition that is expected to keep him sidelined indefinitely.
Giavotella explained his situation to reporters in the clubhouse before batting practice as the Angels prepared to begin a three-game series against the Texas Rangers on Friday night. The five-year veteran, who turned 28 in July, said one of the symptoms was double vision whenever he looked to his left.
”With this issue, it could last a couple of days to a couple of weeks. So I’m just being patient with it, just taking it a day at a time,” Giavotella said. ”I was concerned that it might be vertigo at first. It’s nothing that they can go in there and fix. It just takes time for it to repair itself.
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”It’s hard for me to see when I look to the left, so I can’t obviously hit live pitching yet. But I could work out and do physical activity,” he added. ”I’m able to hit off the tee, I’m able to run sprints, do conditioning work as well as throw. So I’ve been able to do a lot of things. I feel like I’m in great shape and ready to play whenever my eyes are ready to go.”
Fourth cranial nerve palsy causes weakness or paralysis to the superior oblique muscle. This condition often causes vertical or near vertical double vision as the weakened muscle prevents the eyes from moving in the same direction.
Because the fourth cranial nerve is the thinnest and has the longest intracranial course of the cranial nerves, it is particularly vulnerable to traumatic injury. To compensate for the double vision resulting from the weakness of the superior oblique, patients characteristically tilt their head down and to the side opposite the affected muscle.
”Naturally it’s disappointing news. And in talking to Johnny, you can feel his disappointment,” manager Mike Scioscia said. ”I don’t know if there’s too many guys that have worked harder than Johnny to get this opportunity.
”When this clears up and when he’s available, nobody knows. I don’t think there’s any definitive date. It goes at his own pace sometimes, from what we understand. So there’s probably a little bit of frustration on Johnny’s part, too.”
The Angels acquired Giavotella from the Kansas City Royals last December. He is batting .265 with three home runs and 40 RBIs in 119 games.
”It’s been really hard the last two weeks not being able to be with the team and support them any way that I can. So it’s nice to be back on the field and try to be as encouraging as I can,” Giavotella said. ”It’s very frustrating. I felt like I was a big part of this team when I was playing. It was a dream season up to that point. All I can do is stay positive, keep rooting the guys on, keep going to the field and help the guys any way that I can.”
Giavotella hasn’t played since Aug. 20, when the Angels lost 8-2 to the Chicago White Sox – beginning a 2-9 slide that dropped them a season-worst 7 1-2 games out of first place in the AL West on Aug. 31 – and also put their wild card chances in jeopardy.
”It’s a shame that right now he’s not able to come in here and help us in a pennant race,” Scioscia said. ”No doubt, he was a spark on the offensive side. And a guy like Johnny, with his versatility, he could either lead off or hit fifth or sixth in the lineup. That’s something that creates depth in how you put your lineup together. So we’ve missed him, no doubt about it. We just have to go and keep moving forward and keep playing baseball.”