These ailments are sure to send any ballplayer to the injured list.
Injuries and playing sports go hand-in-hand. Rarely will someone escape the injury bug their whole life if they are an active athlete.
While baseball isn’t as rough on the body as other sports, a handful of things could still have you on the mend for months. Consider yourself lucky if you avoided the most damaging injuries for a baseball player.
The three worst letters a baseball player can hear are “UCL.” The UCL gives your inner elbow the stability to withstand the stress of the game. Pitchers are incredibly vulnerable to this type of injury because throwing a baseball overhand with such ferocity is not natural.
Typically, UCL injuries happen over time rather than in one unfortunate incident. The wear and tear players put on their elbows causes the ligaments to degrade, eventually leading to tearing. Besides the obvious discomfort in your arm, a drop in control and velocity is a sign that your UCL is hanging on by a thread, most likely requiring the infamous “Tommy John” surgery.
The recovery time for the injury is between 12-18 months. However, you’re back and better than ever once fully healed. It’s more challenging to find an MLB pitcher who hasn’t had a UCL injury than one who has, proving it’s not a death sentence.
Torn Rotator Cuff
A rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that support the shoulder joint. Along with the dreaded UCL, a torn rotator cuff is probably the second worst thing that can happen to a pitcher, although position players can suffer the same fate if they take a vicious swing with a heavier bat hoping to hit the long ball. Like the UCL, it occurs from unnatural throwing motion and months of wear and tear.
When the rotator cuff tears, a player can no longer correctly rotate their shoulder, losing the ability to confidently throw the ball. A tear usually ends a player’s season, possibly even their career. Unlike Tommy John surgery, the recovery timetable of a torn rotator cuff varies, and a player may no longer have the skills they once had. A torn labrum is equally damaging, but there’s a better post-injury success rate.
Blowing Out a Knee
Even though knee injuries are more of an issue in contact sports like football, baseball players aren’t invincible to them. The ACL links the tibia and femur to support your knee. Baseball players can tear their ACL when their cleats stick in the turf, at an abrupt halt, or on an awkward landing. The popping feeling and sound are haunting, but ACL injuries aren’t as serious as they used to be.
Superior athletes can return from this injury in six months if everything breaks their way. They might lose some pep to their step but generally return to form.
Baseball might not be on your top 10 list when you think of sports with head injuries. Yet, it continues to be a point of emphasis in all levels of play because of the long-lasting side effects of concussions. A nasty collision or a hit by a pitch in the head can do severe damage to your brain. MLB instituted a seven-day injured list spot for players recovering from concussion-like symptoms to ensure every player gets adequate rest.
If you suffer one of the most damaging injuries for a baseball player, it hurts you mentally as much as it does physically. Fortunately, there’s a better chance of bouncing back than in years past because of the advancements in modern medicine.