Yesterday was Opening Day 2018 for Major League Baseball (MLB), and the list of MLB players on the injured list is already long—25 for the Oakland A’s, L.A. Dodgers, L.A. Angels, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants combined.
How can there be so many injured players on the list on the first day of baseball? Some injuries are last year’s leftovers; some occurred during spring training.
Although baseball is one of the more laid back sports compared to basketball, boxing, MMA, hockey, and football, there are some common injuries that are serious enough to cause players, spectators, youth players, and weekend warriors to ride the bench for a bit. Fortunately, there are licensed professionals such a physical therapists, doctors and surgeons, dentists, acupuncturists, osteopaths, chiropractors, and others who can help in the recovery. Some common injuries include:
Rotator Cuff Tears: Many pitchers hurl the ball toward the plate at speeds that reach or exceed 100 miles per hour. Although most managers will pull a pitcher at or before he reaches the 100 pitch-per-game limit, that’s still a lot of repetitive motion, and the rotator cuff—the set of four muscles that allow the shoulder to rotate—can tear or become inflamed.
Tennis Elbow: It’s not just for tennis; pitchers get this too. A tear or inflammation in the tendon that runs down the side of the arm is another problem caused from repetitive motion.
Knees: Sliding into a base (or another player, like, say, a catcher), rounding the bases, or even throwing off balance can cause a sudden twist of the knee joint, ripping cartilage and tearing the meniscus and causing a whole lot of pain. Although these injuries usually heal over time, surgery is sometimes needed.
Head Injuries: You don’t have to see a hitter get beaned by a 100 mile-per-hour pitch to know that’s got to hurt. Getting hit with that kind of speed—or hitting heads when colliding with another player—can knock out teeth, blacken an eye, crack a skull or cause a concussion. Head injuries are nothing to mess with; if the person experiences nausea, dizziness, headaches, or confusion, a trip to the emergency room is in order.
Heat Stroke: Players standing in the field and fans sitting in the stands are candidates for heat stroke. To prevent this, keep hydrated; replace the electrolytes lost through sweating. Signs of heat stroke include clammy skin, nausea, dizziness and excessive sweating. You can heal from a knee or shoulder injury, but if you fry your brain, it’s forever.
Foul Balls and Broken Bats: Ballgames are fun, but you need to pay attention. Foul balls and line drives can come at anytime, anywhere in the park. According to the Boston Globe, a 2014 Bloomberg analysis found that approximately 1,750 fans get hit each year by batted balls—an average of twice every three games. Although most injuries consist of a bruised hand or bloodied lip, some, such as shattered skulls and injuries from flying pieces of broken bats, have occurred.
Even with all of the potential injuries, baseball is still the national pastime and attracts some of the most dedicated fans in sports. Whether you’re watching the action or in the action, be safe and have fun.