Ask a layman like myself what a hip injury means and the first thing that comes to mind would be the fragile pelvis bones of our elderly relatives and how dangerous they can be when they suffer accidental falls. But talk to the training staff of a big league team about hip injuries and you're likely to hear tales of woe involving serious muscle tears to star players.
In fact, to call 2009 the "year of the labrum" would be an affront only to those folks who call 2009 the "year of the oblique". Somehow, every player who goes down with the hip ouchie seems to be a high-profile guy on a high-profile East Coast team.
So let's find out exactly what is hip with these recent victims:
- Mike Lowell, 3B, Red Sox: The news that Walkoff Walk favorite Mike Lowell went on the deel spurred this fancy listicle. After a painful 2008, Lowell had hip surgery in the off-season but continued to suffer this year, enough to have him on the shelf for a couple weeks to rest his weary labrum. Statistically, his performance this year has been about league average for a third baseman and once his little July vacation is up, he'll be back at third base for Boston. Anything to keep Youkilis at first base and David Ortiz from playing the field.
- Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees: I already had my emo moment about Alex this spring, even going so far to compare him to Bo Jackson, Mike Lowell, and even Albert Belle. I think a hot May for A-Rod brought me back in from the ledge as a Yankees fan, but his recent struggles have inspired certain brilliant folks to ponder whether the age 33 falloff is the problem. Perhaps, but Rodriguez came back too soon from rehab and started every game for a month. Maybe Joe Girardi didn't realize that playing a guy whose hip bone is connected to the muscle with some hardened chewing gum everyday was a bad idea.
- Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies: When Chase originally had his surgery to correct his painful labrum tear following the Phillies' World Series win last fall, some folks opined that in the worst case, he might be out until June. Maybe his young age had something to do with it, but the studly second baseman was back in action on April 5th and has already scored and driven in over 50 runs while posting a nearly 1.000 OPS. It would be foolish to call this a miracle of modern medicine, but it would not be foolish to praise Utley and the Phillies training staff for a quick and safe rehab.
- Carlos Delgado, 1B, Mets: I've always enjoyed Carlos' body of work, including his controversial decision to remain seated during "God Bless America" in protest to the USA's treatment of Puerto Rico. I don't agree with the reasoning but I cheer his courage and actions. Anyway, Delgado went down mid-May and is a member of the massive Met movement to medical facilities. His torn labrum is the same old, same old but as an older gentleman, his rehab will be slowed. Even if he comes back late this season, will it even be worth it for the Mets to wheel out a 37-year-old first baseman with declining skills? Especially if they're still a third place team by that point.
- Brett Myers, SP, Phillies: Punch-drunk Brett went down at the end of May with the same affliction as his teammate Chase and saw the same doctor as his teammate Chase and underwent the same surgery as his teammate Chase. Myers might come back at the tail end of this season, but if he doesn't, the ouchie might have financial repercussions. He'll be a free agent this winter and not even The Accursed Scott Boras himself could sell damaged goods with a goatee like that.
So how do we fix these huge hip happenings and keep our favorite East Coast stars in the lineup? Maybe it's not time to start calling for the heads of assorted major league trainers, but in some situations, that might just be the hip move.