Rub Some Dirt in It

By on June 30, 2012

Not a common picture anymore, Evan Longoria anchoring the hot corner for the Rays. (photo by PR Photo)

And they say baseball is a non-contact sport. Although the game of baseball gets the reputation of being “soft” when compared to football, basketball and hockey, players and teams in the majors have had to tough it out this year. As we approach the All-Star break several big time players on teams in the middle of pennant races have been hampered with injuries. You could literally field an All-Star team with some of the guys who have spent most of their first half on the DL.

Go no further than your Tampa Bay Rays to look for a roster full of injuries to significant players. Evan Longoria has been on the DL since May 1. The Rays stud third baseman was hitting .329 before hamstring injuries sidelined him. Matt Joyce, the Rays’ right fielder, was placed on the 15-day DL June 22 with an injury to his oblique. Joyce was an All-Star in 2011 and is a key part of the Rays’ young outfield. Also, the Rays’ closer, Kyle Farnsworth hadn’t pitched all season before being activated from the DL June 30. Despite the injury bug striking hard, the Rays are 41-36 and six games out of first in the brutal AL East.

The leaders of the AL East are the New York Yankees at 47-30. Although they are the second best team

What a freak injury to Rivera (Rocket Sports & Entertainment photo/Steve Baird)

in baseball behind the Texas Rangers, they haven’t been impervious to the injury curse. The Yankees can’t seem to find any pitchers that can stay on the mound. Michael Pineda, a young stud pitcher New York acquired from Seattle in the offseason, is yet to throw a pitch in a Yankee uniform. Pineda was initially placed on the DL March 31, a few days before his first regular season start. The venerable Mariano Rivera went down early in the season after running into the outfield wall while shagging fly balls before a game. Rivera was shelved May 4. The 40-year-old pitcher Andy Pettitte was placed on the 60-day DL after a line drive back at him broke his ankle. The big blow is 9-game winner C.C. Sabathia, who is on the 15-day DL with a groin strain. Luckily for them, the Bronx Bombers still have plenty of offense to combat injuries to their pitchers.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were the best team in baseball May 15. Triple Crown-potential outfielder Matt Kemp was crushing the ball. Andre Ethier was driving in runs at a historic pace. All was good in Tinsel Town. May 16 Matt Kemp was placed on the 15-day DL for the first of two times this season. Although he tried to make a comeback after he was reinstated May 29, two days later he was back on the DL. The Dodgers have also had to see third baseman Juan Uribe and veteran pitcher Ted Lilly spend time on the DL. With the injury bug taking out their best player and perhaps the best in the game, the Dodgers have slipped to 43-35, one game behind their rival San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

Some teams, like the Philadelphia Phillies, had their injury problems occur well before the season began. At Rocket Sports and Entertainment we’ve had tons of stories of Phillies on rehab assignments. The Phillies, bringing up the rear in the NL East at 36-43, have been without slugger Ryan Howard the entire season. Howard was injured on the final play of the Phillies’ game 5 loss to the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. Howard’s Achilles tendon gave out while he tried to beat out a ball to first on the final play of the series. Another big bat the Phillies missed was Chase Utley. Utley, like Howard, began the season the Phillies’ DL. Utley returned for the Fightin’ Phills Wednesday and hit a homer in his first at bat. In addition to those two, Cliff Lee, Vance Worley, Laynce Nix, Jim Thome, Jose Contreras and Roy Halladay have spent time on the DL. The most significant of those, Halladay, is still on the DL, but may be back shortly after the All-Star break. I find it ironic that the man they call “Doc” is one of the many major leaguers, as Eminem would put it, who needs a doctor.

I might have missed your team to talk about injury problems and for that I apologize. There have been so many injuries to marquee players that it would take the rest of the season to address every injury. Some of the big ones I didn’t mention are Brian Wilson (out for season), Carl Crawford, Chris Carpenter, Jacoby Ellsbury, Martin Prado, Clay Buchholz, Travis Hafner, Lance Berkman and Neftali Feliz. Of those players, only Feliz’ Rangers and Wilson’s Giants are in first place.

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