It's not exactly Danny Cox vs. the sea wall. But Todd Wellemeyer's losing battle with a crab has to rank somewhere pretty high up on the list of goofy spring training injuries.
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Wellemeyer was pinched by a crab earlier during a trip to the beach earlier this week. The crab got him between two fingers on his pitching hand. It was a bloody -- if not serious -- injury. The setback isn't supposed to compromise his preparations for the upcoming season. Thanks to the World Baseball Classic's role in extending spring training, Wellemeyer will probably have forgotten that the incident even happened by the time players ride around the warning track of Busch Stadiums in convertibles.
Here's the Danny Cox story from the Feb. 23, 1986 edition of the New York Times:
SPORTS PEOPLE; INJURY SIDELINES COX
Danny Cox, the right-handed pitcher who won 18 games for the Cardinals last year, suffered a bone chip in his right ankle on a fishing trip in St. Petersburg, Fla., Sunday and could be sidelined for two months. ''I jumped off a sea wall while I was going fishing and I didn't land right,'' Cox said.
''I've done it a thousand times. It's just a freak accident. I didn't think it was hurt that bad.'' Dr. Stan London, a team physician, will determine tomorrow whether the ankle should be put in a cast. If that happens, Cox would be out of action for two months. Manager Whitey Herzog has said he planned to use Cox second in the starting rotation behind John Tudor. Cox was 18-9 last year with 10 complete games and four shutouts.
Both of these injuries pale in comparison to my all-time favorite spring training injury. That came in 2007 when Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood, thought to finally be healthy after a 2006 season that saw him pitch only 19 2/3 innings, found his way back onto the disabled list after a slip and fall as he tried to get out of a hot tub at his house. He fell onto his chest and shoulder.
The Cubs glossed things over, saying that Wood was just going to be held out a few days as a precaution. But it turned out that he never again started a game for the Cubs. Wood was converted to the bullpen when he finally returned to give him fewer opportunities to injure himself.
If you open up the freak injury conversation to the rest of the year, Vince Coleman getting run over by the automatic tarp at Busch II would certainly have to be right up there. But, for my money, the all-time best baseball freak injury came in 2007 when new Cub Milton Bradley was playing for the Padres. With a week to go in the season and San Diego in the hunt for a wild car spot in the playoffs, Bradley got into a heated argument with an umpire. Trying to separate Bradley from the official, Padres manager Bud Black grabbed the outfielder and spun him to the ground, tearing the ACL in his right knee in the process.