May 23rd, 2011
As I sit here today, icing my left wrist, I’m in two places.
On the one hand, I’m not willing to buy into stories that say this is a career-ending injury. On Wednesday, I’ll see the doctor in Cleveland who did the original surgery. When I talked to him on the phone, he seemed pretty optimistic. He said he’s seen this happen before with the kind of surgery I had. More surgery is not necessarily the answer. So I’m pretty encouraged.
And what people might not understand is that even though I’m 36, I was just a spot player for the first five years of my career. I had a total of maybe 500 to 600 at-bats, which is what most full-time players have in one season. So I have a lot of swings left in my arms and hands.
On the other hand, I’m a realist. I know now that my wrist was the reason I was 0-for-23 since coming off the DL. My left wrist and hand are the keys to my hitting. I’m not a top-hand guy who tries to pull everything. I try to swing through the ball and drive it up the middle. But I could feel my top hand totally taking over. Which is why I was rolling a lot of balls to third. And why I wasn’t getting around on fastballs, a problem I’ve never had.
The crazy-making part was that I had no pain. So I didn’t think it was the wrist. I walked into Bochy’s office two weeks ago and asked him to trust me and play me and give me a shot to prove myself. As the 0-fers mounted, I’d go home or the hotel and try to figure out what was wrong. . I hardly got the ball out of the infield. I had noticed something off in batting practice. I’d hit balls and it would feel the same as always but the balls were landing 20 feet in front of where they usually did.
Even after 23 at-bats without a hit, I continued to chalk it up to being rusty.
Until the burst of pain in Los Angeles last Wednesday.
So the big question for my doctor is: What are the chances that I’ll play again at the level I’m accustomed to playing?
If he says I could be a contributing player if I spent the next year rehabbing, I would do it, even though I know it would be emotionally tough to sit out another season. And I’m cognizant of the possibility that I could be doing long-term damage to my wrist if I keep playing. I don’t want to end up, down the road, unable to play catch with my son or golf with my friends.
But I love this game. I love being on this team with these guys. When I came off the DL earlier this season, the team was struggling a little bit. Someone said to me, “Glad you’re coming back. They really need you.’’
I laughed and shook my head.
“I need them,’’ I said, “way more than they need me.’’
Thanks for all the support and kind words.