MLB Spring Training: The Most Impactful Preseason Injuries Ever, Good or Bad

Anthony LifrieriContributor IMarch 22, 2011

MLB Spring Training: The Most Impactful Preseason Injuries Ever, Good or Bad

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    PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 06:  Infielder Daric Barton #10 of the Oakland Athletics lands on his back after a collision with Logan Forsythe (not pictured) of the San Diego Padres during the third inning of the spring training game at Peoria Stadium on March 6, 20
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Preseason injuries are a part of every sport. 

    Every year, baseball players get injured before the season starts and they all impact their careers or teams in a bad, or sometimes good way.  The injuries can derail careers, lead to greener pastures or open a slot for a future superstar.

    Here is a list of the top 10 most impactful preseason injuries of baseball history.

No. 10: Chase Utley, 2009

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    CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 22:  Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a photo during Spring Training Media Photo Day at Bright House Networks Field on February 22, 2011 in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Chase Utley was firmly entrenched as the game’s best second baseman in 2009, but a nagging hip injury forced him to get surgery after the 2008 season in order to correct the issue. 

    Utley came back with a vengeance and had a brilliant postseason in 2009, as he led the Phillies to the World Series.  Utley played outstanding in the series and was really the only reason the Phillies weren’t swept outright by the world champion Yankees.

No. 9: Joe Nathan, 2010

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    FORT MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 23:  Pitcher Joe Nathan #36 of the Minnesota Twins throws during a spring training workout session at Hammond Stadium on February 23, 2011 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Twinkies headed into 2010 as one of the favorites to win the AL pennant until Joe Nathan tore his UCL early in spring training, which forced Nathan to get Tommy John surgery.  As a result, the Twins to scramble for another closer.

    The Twins still cruised to the playoffs, but they missed their closer when they ran up against the Yankees in the ALDS, where they were promptly swept.

    Nathan’s 2010 season was lost before it began, and there is no way to tell if he will regain his pre-injury form until he holds up over the course of the 2011 season.

No. 8: Francisco Cervelli, 2011

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Outfielder Wilson Valdez #21 of the Philadelphia Phillies scores a run as catcher Francisco Cervelli #17 of the New York Yankees is late with the tag during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at George M. Steinbrenner Field
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Cervelli was set to be the Yankees’ back up catcher this year, but an injury to his foot opened up the door for uber-prospect Jesus Montero.  Montero raked this spring, and he clearly belongs in the major leagues.

    The Yanks are hesitant to bring him to the show, but they have no other choice for the time being.  If Montero sticks around and gets playing time, he is a favorite to become the AL Rookie of the Year.

No. 7: Alex Rodriguez, 2009

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Infielder Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees fouls off a pitch as catcher, Brian Schneider #23 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Febru
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    A-Rod planned to represent the Dominican Republic in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, but a torn labrum on his hip derailed his plans.  A-Rod missed a chunk of the 2009 season, but like Utley, he came back with a vengeance and played nearly MVP-caliber baseball after returning. 

    In the end, the injury may not have been so bad for Rodriguez.  He powered the Yankees to a World Series title and was the team’s undisputed MVP of the playoffs, getting a big hit every time the team needed him to.

No. 6: Adam Wainwright, 2011

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    JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 16:  Pitcher Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium on February 16, 2011 in Jupiter, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    There is no doubt this is a devastating injury for Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals.  Just barely into spring training, Wainwright has been lost for the year and must get Tommy John surgery.

    Tommy John is a horrible surgery for any pitcher to go through, and whether or not Wainwright comes back late this season or next season at all is unknown.  It is also unknown if he will regain the stuff he had before the injury.

    Either way, the Cardinals go from being one of the NL’s top teams to a mid-tier club without Wainwright.

No. 5: Wayne Garland, 1977

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    In 1976, Wayne Garland was one of the best pitchers in baseball and a highly coveted free agent in the early days of its practice. 

    Garland got a then massive 10-year, $2.3 million contract from the Indians and was expected to pitch them into contention. 

    When Garland was in his first spring training start with the Indians, he hurt his shoulder.  Garland toughed out the entire season and pitched through the injury.  Unfortunately for Garland and the Indians, the injury caused Garland to pitch poorly, and he was never the same pitcher after the injury.

No. 4: Nomar Garciaparra, 2001

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 15:  Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra #5 of the Boston Red Sox throws to first to record the force out on David Eckstein #22 of the Anaheim Angels on July 15, 2004 at the Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Doug Benc/
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Heading into 2001, Nomar Garciaparra was one of baseball’s premier players and a member of the shortstop holy trinity along with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.  Unfortunately, Nomar injured his wrist in spring training and he was never the same player. 

    Garciaparra lost support of the Red Sox organization over the next few years and was traded to the Cubs just before Boston's World Series run in 2004.

    He spent the rest of his playing days injured, and what was once a sure-fire Hall of Fame career is now a long shot.

No. 3: Mark Prior, 2005

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    CHICAGO - JULY 1:  Mark Prior #22 of the Chicago Cubs pitches during the game with the Washington Nationals on July 1, 2005 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Nationals defeated the Cubs 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    In 2005, Mark Prior was one of the best pitchers in baseball, and many felt it was his destiny to become one of baseball’s all-time greats.  Sure, he had been a victim of the injury bug, but he was still effective when he played.

    Then, in the spring of 2006, Prior strained his shoulder. 

    The injury was originally thought to be minor, but was much worse.  In the end, the strained shoulder cost him his effectiveness and health in 2006, and he would not pitch in the majors again after that season.

    Prior is trying another comeback with the Yankees, but it is unknown if he will ever make it back to the show.

No. 2: Ken Griffey Jr, 2001

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    Heading into 2001, Ken Griffey Jr. was indisputably the best player in baseball and was on track to become one five greatest players of all time.

    Unfortunately for Griffey and baseball fans everywhere, Griffey hurt his hamstring during spring training of 2001, which started a chain of injuries to Griffey’s legs that compromised the rest of his career.

    He was never the same player after the injury, and although he still managed to hit over 600 home runs, we all wonder what might have been...

No. 1: Aaron Boone, 2004

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    The pickup basketball game that shocked the world.  Back in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, Aaron Boone hit a clutch home run that won the Yankees the pennant in an epic series against their arch-rival Red Sox.  Boone’s legacy in pinstripes seemed to be secure, and there was hope he would improve in 2004.

    Unfortunately, Boone tore his ACL in the aforementioned pickup basketball game in early 2004 and was lost for the year.  In a masterstroke, the Yankees’ brass decided to fill two important needs: replacing Boone and sticking it to the Red Sox. 

    The Sox had focused on acquiring Alex Rodriguez for the previous year, and they even had a deal done, but it was vetoed by the MLBPA because the deal involved A-Rod taking a voluntary pay cut.

    So the Yankees swooped in and traded for Rodriguez, giving them the game’s best player and changing the course of baseball history. 

    Sure, the Red Sox won two World Series without A-Rod, but how many more would they have won with him?