Last month Tommy Hanson took a bereavement leave from the Angels following the death of his stepbrother, returning to the team after six days away. He made two starts, pitching relatively well, but then decided he wasn’t fully ready to return, leaving the team again for what proved to be another three weeks.
Hanson is back with the Angels now and expected to start Friday against the Astros. And the right-hander opened up to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times about what he went through since his 26-year-old stepbrother’s death:
I was having mental issues with the death of my younger brother. I was just trying to get through it. I didn’t know how to handle it. That was the first time anything like that had ever happened to me. I didn’t know how to cope with it. … Physically, I feel great. I’m in great shape. I just had to deal with the issues going on in my head.
MLB instituting bereavement leave a few years back was a good idea, but players regularly being placed on the bereavement list can make it easy to forget that they’re simply guys who just lost someone close to them and in many cases aren’t prepared to return to work after 3-7 days. Kudos to the Angels for giving Hanson all the time he needed away from the team and here’s hoping he’s found some peace in the month since his stepbrother’s death.
Welp, that didn’t last long. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is going back on the injured list with more knee issues. If it matters the Sox say it’s not a big deal and they expect him back sooner rather than later, but they also said that his post-2017 knee surgery was just a “cleanup” at first and that basically cost him a year. So.
Pedroia has played in six games and is 2-for-20 with a walk.
I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Pedroia’s career may be nearing an end. Sure, he’s under contract for two more years after this season, but he’s also in a unfortunate spiral that so many players experience in their mid-to-late 30s.
Running a website like this makes it all the clearer, actually. When you search a player’s name in our CMS, you get every post in which he appears in reverse chronological order. Just about every long-tenured player ends with about six posts in which he is alternately placed on and activated from the disabled/injured list. Then an offseason link to a big feature in which he’s written about as being “at a crossroads” followed by something vague about “resuming baseball activities” and then, inevitably, the retirement announcement. I can’t count the number of guys whose careers I can tick off in that way by browsing the guts of this site.
I hope that’s not the case for Pedroia. I hope that there’s a “Pedroia wins Comeback Player of the Year” post in the future. Or at the very least a silly “Miller’s Crossing” reference in an “And that Happened” in which I say “the old man’s still an artist with the Thompson” after he peppers the ball around in some 3-for-4, two-double game. I want that stuff to happen.
It’s just that, if you watch this game long enough, you realize how unlikely that is once a player starts to break down.