In a sport where athletes put their bodies through dirt, broken fingers, and plenty of pulled hamstrings during a strenuous 162-game season, injuries are a common occurrence. Then why have we seen such a huge spike in injuries during this 2014 season, even though the season (excluding those pointless Australian games) hasn’t even started yet? Pitchers have experienced the brunt of the pain, and numerous season-ending shocks have plagued the major leagues.
Here’s your shortlist for some of the pitching injuries we’ve seen this year prior to the start of April’s ballgames, not including the minor day-to-day incidents. Players who had Tommy John surgery in 2014 or late 2013 and are out for the year: The Mets’ Matt Harvey, the Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin, and current free agent Rafael Betancourt. Players who had their second Tommy John surgery and are out for the season: The Braves’ Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, the Athletics’ Jarrod Parker, and the Padres’ Cory Luebke. The Phillies’ Cole Hamels surprised fans when he announced he had arm fatigue and is likely out until May. Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman was hit by a line drive in spring training, and he went through surgery recently. Protective headwear was given a second look after Cincinnati announced Chapman would be out for at least two months. Finally, the Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson and Tigers’ Bruce Rondon suffered elbow injuries and are out until May and for the season, respectively.
It appears that even playing with your dog isn’t safe anymore, as the Rangers’ Derek Holland was forced to have micro-fracture surgery on his knee after taking a spill while strolling down “No Worries Lane” with his pooch. Holland is out until around the All-Star break. Nobody is really sure why there are more injuries than usual, but it makes aging veterans think twice about how long they’re going to pitch for and how slowly younger stars should take the rehab process before reappearing with their teams.
Freak accidents happen; not everything can be prevented. But for all of the money owners pour into their athletes’ pockets and the amount of time and social pride fans put into their favorite teams, don’t you think the MLB could invest a little bit more time into keeping the preventable injuries from happening? Just a little bit more conditioning and awareness during spring training could limit the number of injuries we see, and possibly lead us to a decline in future problems. These season-ending injuries should give the trainers, who are usually pretty excellent, another reason to do their best during spring training to make sure these guys are ready and healthy for all the Opening Days to come.
Maybe we can start off by enrolling Holland in a dog-walking class?