As the 2015 Major League Baseball season begins, I looked back on 10 athletes with notable season-ending injuries from last year–each requiring corrective surgery. While elbow injuries are prevalent in baseball (due to the biomechanical forces in throwing), common injuries also include herniated discs, shoulder and knee injuries. Let’s take a look at where these 10 athletes are now as the 2015 MLB season begins.
Prince Fielder – First Baseman – Texas Rangers
The Injury: Fielder had to have season-ending neck surgery in May 2014. Fielder had a herniated disc in his neck, and his symptoms were getting worse, causing weakness in his left arm. He underwent a cervical fusion of the C5-C6 vertebrae.
2015 Update: Fielder was cleared for spring training in February 2015 after recovering from surgery, and it appears that he will play in the 2015 season.
Carlos Gonzalez – Outfielder – Colorado Rockies
The Injury: Gonzalez had to undergo surgery on his left knee to repair his patella tendon in August of 2014, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.
2015 Update: Gonzalez returned this season for spring training. He did sit out for one day due to pain in his left knee, but has rejoined the roster and attributes the pain to fatigue.
Homer Bailey – Pitcher – Cincinnati Reds
The Injury: Bailey sustained a torn flexor tendon in his elbow. Although he had initially undergone more conservative treatment for the injury, surgery was ultimately needed in September 2014. Bailey was out for the rest of the season.
2015 Update: Bailey has yet to return to the game, but is expected to return by late April.
Matt Cain – Pitcher – San Francisco Giants
The Injury: Cain had bone chips in his right elbow and bone spurs in his right ankle, both of which ultimately required surgery. Cain revealed that he has been unable to fully extend his right arm since high school, and the bone chips have made it worse. After the elbow surgery, he also underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs in his ankle. He was out for the remainder of the season.
2015 Update: Cain has been able to return for the 2015 season. Although he reported some soreness in his elbow during spring training, medical staff attributed the soreness to the fact that Cain has to rebuild arm strength.
Matt Harrison – Pitcher – Texas Rangers
The Injury: Harrison had previously missed much of the 2013 season to undergo surgery for a herniated disc, but continued to have back problems after returning for the 2014 season. Ultimately, he had to undergo a spinal fusion, taking him out of the 2014 season.
2015 Update: Harrison is currently still on the disabled list and is not expected to return before June.
Bronson Arroyo – Pitcher – Arizona Diamondbacks
The Injury: Arroyo had never been on the disabled list during his 15-year career in MLB, but a UCL tear took him out of the game during the 2014 season. Ultimately, the injury forced him to undergo UCL reconstruction, also known as Tommy John surgery.
2015 Update: Arroyo was recently placed on the 60-day disabled list as he continues the recovery process, although he may be able to play in August.
Angel Pagan – Outfielder – San Francisco Giants
The Injury: Pagan had a herniated disc that was pinching a nerve. Ultimately, he had to undergo a discectomy to remove the herniated portion of the disc, ending his 2014 season.
2015 Update: Pagan returned to the spring lineup, but has sat out of some games. The Giants plan to monitor Pagan and give him days off when needed, so that long-term injuries aren’t an issue.
Dustin Pedroia – Second Baseman – Boston Red Sox
The Injury: Pedroia underwent a tendon release procedure on his left wrist in September 2014, taking him out for the remainder of the season. The injury had been an ongoing issue.
2015 Update: Pedroia was cleared for play early on in 2015. This is the third year Pedroia has had surgery for a hand or wrist issue, so only time will tell if he can play like he did pre-injury.
Yu Darvish – Pitcher – Texas Rangers
The Injury: The Texas Rangers were plagued with injuries during the 2014 season, and Darvish was part of that list. Darvish was placed on the disabled list in August 2014 with a right elbow injury.
2015 Update: Although the injury did not initially look serious, it was announced in March 2015 that Darvish would undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2015 season.
Manny Machado – Third Baseman – Baltimore Orioles
The Injury: Machado missed the end of the 2014 season to undergo knee surgery for a partially torn ligament in his right knee. Machado had previously undergone a similar procedure in 2013 in his left knee.
2015 Update: Machado was able to participate beginning in January and is optimistic about the season ahead.
With the 2015 season beginning, here’s to hoping these players fare well. Play Ball!