Injuries are always a part of sports, even during the pre-season. That said, baseball always seems to suffer the worst from freak injuries, both on- and off-the-field; this spring is no different.
Spring Training is underway and the games will start in the next couple of days. Players are reporting and while there are some questions about the playing shape, injuries can affect just about anyone. Over the past week there have been a couple of injuries that cause people to stop and wonder how it happened. Baseball is used to having its fair share of unusual injuries, like Hunter Pence walking through a glass door, Joel Zumaya hurting his arm playing Guitar Hero, or Clint Barmes breaking his collarbone while carrying deer meat given to him from teammate Todd Helton. Here are some of the more…unpredictable….injuries that have occurred this Spring, and how long their victims may be out.
Michael Saunders – Toronto Blue Jays
The first reported injury happened at the beginning of last week. While catching balls in the outfield, Saunders stepped on a sprinkler head and tore a small part of his knee. It didn’t appear to be a serious injury as Saunders was able to walk back to the dugout after the drills were done, but test revealed a tear in the meniscus. It appears as though the Blue Jays may have dodged a major injury though, as some thought that he would be out until the All-Star break. After the surgery, it looks like he will only miss one to two months. This isn’t the first time that catching fly balls in the outfield has hurt someone. Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera tore his ACL while catching fly balls, so it can happen at any time. Saunders was traded for and expected to be the everyday left-fielder for Toronto, and they could certainly use that outfield help given some of the people they lost this offseason.
Ronald Belisario – Tampa Bay Rays
Belisario is a case of someone being hurt without knowing. A month ago, the pitcher hurt his shoulder while swimming in a pool but shook it off and didn’t bother to get it checked. When he arrived in camp with the Rays he got it examined by the team doctors and it turned out that his shoulder was fractured. Luckily for Belisario, it was not his pitching shoulder which would have required more time and conditioning. What is unfortunate for Belisario was that he signed a minor-league deal, so it may have cost him his chance at making the team for the start. He doesn’t expect to be ready to go by the time that the season starts. Belisario was hoping for a rebound after a disappointing 2014 season, but it will be a little while before he will get a chance at redemption.
Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox
Perhaps the biggest name that has gotten hurt was starting pitcher Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox. One of the early front runners for AL Cy Young, the 25-year-old fractured his foot at his home in Arizona. Sale has declined to comment on how it happened, but GM Rick Hahn said it occurred when the pitcher was getting off of the back of his truck. Originally, it was expected that he would miss up to three weeks, but it is looking like he could be out past opening day which is a month away. The fracture is on Sale’s right foot, which is his plant foot, so the club will monitor it closely. If they rush him back, this has the makings of an injury that could bother Sale all season. Sale is one of the better young pitchers and could be a big blow to a team that was expected to contend.
Giancarlo Stanton – Miami Marlins
This one isn’t an injury, but more of an injury scare. Last year, Stanton’s MVP-caliber season was brought to an early end when he got hit in the face by a pitch in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Stanton required facial surgery and will be wearing a specially customized helmet. Though he has healed physically, people wondered how he would do mentally. In an exhibition game, Stanton was hit by a pitch from teammate Henderson Alvarez. Even though the pitch hit him in the hip, I could almost feel the wind of the collected exhale from Marlins camp all the way up here in Boston. Miami knew that they would have to deal with pitchers coming in on Stanton, they just didn’t think the first would come from their own. It’s a little surprising that the Marlins front office didn’t want pitchers to start away and then work their way in. Stanton will be fine, and the fact that he got hit and brushed it off should be a good sign for Marlins fans.