We heard earlier this afternoon that Prince Fielder could be headed for season-ending neck surgery. The worst-case scenario has been realized.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels just confirmed that Fielder is tentatively scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday to fuse the C-5 and C-6 disks in his neck. He’ll receive a second opinion later this week, but all indications are that he’ll have the surgery. The normal timeline for recovery is about 3-4 months, which essentially ends his season.
Today’s news is another brutal blow for the Rangers, who can’t seem to catch a break on the injury front. They currently have 13 players on the disabled list, including Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Matt Harrison, Tanner Scheppers, and Jurickson Profar.
Big things were expected from Fielder after he came over from the Tigers in the Ian Kinsler deal over the winter, but he was batting just .247/.360/.360 with three home runs and 16 RBI over 42 games prior to being shut down on Saturday. Long regarded for his durability, his consecutive games played streak was snapped at 547 games. The 30-year-old is still owed approximately $156 million through 2020, though the Tigers are covering $30 million of the total from 2016-2020. Still, that contract is starting to look pretty brutal.
The Nationals have placed reliever Koda Glover on the 10-day disabled list due to a left hip impingement, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Glover said he is “extremely confident” that he’ll need only the minimum 10 days to recover.
Glover, 24, felt hip discomfort when throwing his first pitch in Tuesday’s relief appearance. He attributed it to the cold, per Janes.
Glover was one of a handful of candidates to handle the ninth inning for the Nationals. It’s been a mixed bag for him, as he has a loss and a blown save along with a 4.15 ERA and a 6/1 K/BB ratio in 8 2/3 innings.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.
According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.
It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.
Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.
Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.