Encarnacion's career in doubt after eye injury

St. Louis Cardinals medical director Dr. George Paletta was not optimistic Sunday when asked if the veteran outfielder will regain full vision in his left eye after suffering a horrific injury on Friday.

Juan Encarnacion's career— not to mention his eyesight— is very much in jeopardy, according to the St. Louis Cardinals' medical director.

Dr. George Palettawas not optimistic Sunday when asked ifthe veteran outfielder will regain full vision in his left eye after suffering a horrific injury during the Cardinals' game on Friday night.

"It's the worst trauma I've seen. Absolutely," Paletta said. "You hope the best for Juan, but he suffered a severe injury with a very guarded prognosis.

"It's way too early to say whether he will or he won't [regain vision], and if he doesn't what percentage of vision loss he may have."

Encarnacion, 31, sustained multiple fractures to his left eye socket when he was hit by a foul ball off the bat of teammate Aaron Miles while waiting in the on-deck circle during Friday's 8-5 win over Cincinnati at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Paletta said the eye socket was essentially crushed on impact, comparing the injured area to the disintegration of an egg shell or ice cream cone, and that the optic nerve had sustained severe trauma. Reconstructive surgery may not take place for several days, while doctors wait for swelling to subside.

Paletta said there was no rupture to the eyeball.

Encarnacion, who missed the first1½ months of the season recovering from wrist surgery, hit .283 with nine homers and 47 RBIs upon his return.

The native of the Dominican Republicenjoyed an 18-game hitting streak from May 30 to June 18, but had recently seen his playing time cut back with the emergence of pitcher-turned-outfielder Rick Ankiel, who has five home runs since being called up from the minors in early August.

With files from the Associated Press