With the 2009 season nearing the half way point, there has been an underlying theme to this year: Injuries. Sure, players get hurt and it is part of the game, but this year seems to be different than recent memory, at least regarding impact players getting hurt.
The season started off with a bang with Alex Rodriguez first admitting to using performance enhancing drugs, and then spending time on the disabled list healing his hip injury. Judging by his recent 4 for 42 slump, he might be heading back to the DL with a partially strained ego. Besides A-Rod this year, there has been a laundry list of high caliber players spending time on the DL. Here is just a parital list through June 23rd: Brandon Webb, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Aramis Ramirez, Edinson Volquez, Ervin Santana, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, J.J. Putz, Jose Reyes, Carlos Zambrano, John Lackey, Raul Ibanez, Brad Lidge, Scott Kazmir(surprise, surprise), Jake Peavy, Josh Hamilton, Roy Halladay, Grady Sizemore, and Joey Votto, just to name a few. As ironic as this is, one player that has actually been healthy this season is Carl Pavano (although his time would be better spent on the DL considering his ERA is 5.80 this year). Even the Yankees Chien-Ming Wang was kind enough to stop giving up runs this season to pay a visit to the DL.
The New York Mets have been hit the hardest by the injury bug this season. So far, Beltran, Delgado, Putz, Reyes, John Maine, Ryan Church, and Brian Schneider have all visited the DL, with Church and Schneider being the only healthy ones of that bunch (for now anyway). With Gary Sheffield just recently receiving a cortisone shot for leg pain, their outfield has had more make overs this season than Joan Rivers. At their current rate of unhealthy misfortune, I should be getting a call around mid July to play some left field. Now if I can only find my glove and cleats….
The most similar injury situation for one team I can recall would go back to last season with the Rockies, when Troy Tulowitzki, Clint Barmes, Brad Hawpe, and Matt Holliday all spent time on the DL before July 1st. 2007 started ominously for the Red Sox, as they lost Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling to the DL before July 1st.
Whether this injury trend will continue remains to be unseen, but one thing is for certain: all of these injuries have been testing teams’ depth and resolve. If they can make it through the next few months, that will go a long way towards their playoff hopes.