Welcome to the first Under The Knife column at Bleacher Report! Under The Knife begins its 12th season of covering the world of baseball through the lens of sports medicine. After more than a decade, I still feel this is one of the most interesting and misunderstood areas in sports. Each week, I'll be detailing the most impactful injuries and giving you the insight you need to understand what it means for your favorite team or your fantasy team.
It may only be the start of March, but the injuries are already piling up. It's not just the Yankees that have felt the wrath of the early injuries, though it may seem like it to the Bleacher Creatures.
This has happened to the Yankees before. Remember the spring a couple years back when it seemed everyone was pulling a hamstring and it ended up costing some jobs? There's no one to blame for a series of traumatic injuries, but we'll see how well Brian Cashman and his team have done in building depth. The easy answer might be to pull out the checkbook and buy a player, but it's probably not the right answer.
The problem is that we're still looking for the right answers. Baseball has lost billions—yes, with a B—to injuries, and we're still no closer to finding answers then we were when I started writing this column back in 2002.
I'll talk about the small positive steps we've made, but almost all of them in the last five years come from rehab and practice. Those are hard-fought and costly gains, ones that come from having too many injured players to practice on.
The worst of it is that the dollars often aren't a good measure. When we lose a young pitcher, there might be some lost bonus money but that's about it. What we don't figure is what a team lost in not being able to figure out that risk. We're never going to get to 100 percent, but we could get a lot closer than we are now.
Just think about Mariano Rivera. He announced his retirement this week and is universally praised as the best closer in the game and as a credit to the game, but he almost never made it. He's another that came from Dr. James Andrews' table and all the way back. He didn't have Tommy John surgery in the traditional sense, but had a hybrid procedure that allowed him another chance.
If it had happened a few years earlier, that chance might not have come. Which injuries that happened this year might be saved just a few years down the line? Which injuries could we prevent so that we have a few more pitchers who don't have that scarred signature of Andrews, Timothy Kremchek and Lewis Yocum on their elbows?
Powered by the start of a new era of UTK, on to the injuries: