Dustin Pedroia: 12 Superstars Who Were Never the Same After Injuries

J. David Lee@jdavidlee19Contributor IIIJune 1, 2011

Dustin Pedroia: 12 Superstars Who Were Never the Same After Injuries

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    Recently, Dustin Pedroia had a bit of a scare when he slipped on a wet second base while making a play.

    He apparently turned an ankle and had a numbness in his foot.

    He says he feels healthy and is suffering no effects from last year's foot injury, but a look at numbers suggest otherwise. His offensive numbers are below his average and it makes one wonder if it will have a long term effect on his playing.

    Many careers have been altered by seemingly minor injuries. Others have been cut short or dampened by major injuries.

    Hopefully, Dustin Pedroia won't join this list, but here are 14 players who were never the same after injuries.

Fransisco Liriano

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    In 2006, Francisco Liriano was well on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year award.

    He was selected as Rookie of the Month twice.

    He made the American League All-Star team.

    He led the American League with a 2.19 ERA.

    In August of that year, he was put on the disabled list with forearm inflammation. Tommy John surgery followed later that year.

    He's never been the same since.

    In 2010, he did have a decent season, going 14-10, but he's not shown the electrifying stuff of his 2006 season.

BJ Ryan

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    In his early years with the Baltimore Orioles, BJ Ryan had a mid-90s fastball and sketchy command. He harnessed both to become an elite closer in the American League.

    After notching 36 saves for the Orioles in 2005, Ryan was one of the most wanted free agents of that winter.

    He signed a five year, $47 million dollar deal with the Toronto Blue Jays

    He made the 2006 American League All-Star team, where he was the winning pitcher. He converted 38 saves that year.

    In May of 2007, Ryan underwent Tommy John surgery.

    He came back in 2008 to save 32 games.

    In 2009, he spent time on the disabled list and was ineffective enough to be taken out of the closer's role and later released.

    Ryan signed with the Cubs soon after, but asked for and was granted his release when it was clear he wasn't healthy.

Scott Rolen

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    Scott Rolen come up to the Philadelphia Phillies for his first full season in 1997. He hit .283, drove in 93 runs, hit 21 home runs and won the Rookie of the Year award.

    Not only was he good for big time offense at the hot corner, he was also very good with the glove.

    Rolen was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2002 where he picked up where he left off. Teaming with Albert Pujols, Rolen helped lead the Cards to the World Series in 2004. They were swept by the Red Sox.

    Rolen was injured in a collision in 2005 and spent time on the disabled list.

    He was nominated for Comeback Player of the Year in 2006 and he helped lead the Cardinals to the World Championship.

    2007 was injury filled for Rolen and in the offseason he was traded to the Blue Jays.

    His year and a half in Toronto was filled with injuries and more trips to the disabled list. In July of 2009, Rolen was traded to the Cincinnati Reds.

    While not reaching his peak form, the eight-time Gold Glove winner and six-time All Star has been healthy for the Reds and played well.

Eric Chavez

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    Even as a prep player in California, Chavez was a star.

    Drafted out of Mount Carmel High School by the Oakland A's, his rise to the major leagues was supposed to be fast, and it was.

    He got to the "The Show" at 20 years old.

    In his first full season at 22, he hit 26 home runs.

    From that 2000 season to the 2005 season, Chavez averaged almost 30 home runs and 100 RBI a year.

    He was a six-time Gold Glove winner at 3B.

    It seemed he was on his way to the Hall of Fame.

    His production dropped in 2006 as he had a hard time staying healthy. He spent time on the disabled list from 2007-2010 with back and shoulder ailments. He never regained his previous form.

    He signed with the Yankees this season as a back up.

Tony Conigliaro

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    In 1964, Tony Conigliaro hit .290 and hit 24 home runs as a 19-year-old rookie.

    In 1965, he was the American League home runs champion. At 20 years old, he hit 32 home runs.

    It was during the 1967 that he reached his 100th career home run and made the American League All-Star team.

    Later in the season, he was hit in the face by a pitch from the Angels' Jack Hamilton. It shattered his cheekbone and damaged his retina.

    He came back to win the 1969 Comeback Player of the Year and had a career high 36 home runs in 1970.

    After playing for the Angels in 1971 and the Red Sox in 1975, Conigliaro was forced to retire because of his impaired vision.

Herb Score

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    Herb Score was a dominating left handed pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in the 1950's. He was what Sandy Koufax would later become.

    As a rookie in 1955, Score won 16 games and set the rookie strikeout record of 245 whiffs which stood until broken by Dwight Gooden in 1984.

    In his sophomore campaign, Score topped himself, winning 20 games and striking out 263 batters.

    In 1957, he was struck in the face with a line drive, breaking several bones in his face.

    He came back to pitch in 1958, but was never the same.


Mark Prior

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    By now the Mark Prior story is well known.

    Prior was drafted by the Cubs out of USC and was thought to be close to major league ready right away.

    At the time, articles were written about the soundness of his mechanics. He worked with reknowned pitching guru Tom House.

    Drafted in 2001, he started his journey to the big leagues in 2002 in Double-A. After starting nine games and pitching 51 innings between the Double-A and Triple-A levels, Prior was brought to the big leagues in 2002.

    He won six games in 2002 for the Cubs with an ERA of 3.32. He struck out 11.34 batters per nine innings.

    In 2003, Prior won 18 games had a 2.43 ERA, made the All Star team and finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting.

    During the 2003 season, Prior would routinely throw more than 110 pitches with his pitch count growing to 120+ during September.

    He spent time on the disabled list with an arm injury in 2004 and for one reason or another in every season through 2008, where he finally shut it down for good.

    He made a comeback pitching in Independant ball in 2010. He was signed by the Rangers and made one appearance in the minor leagues.

    This season, he is pitching in the minor leagues in the Yankee organization.

J R Richard

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    In the 1970's, JR Richard rivaled Nolan Ryan in fastball velocity and mowed hitters down.

    From 1976 until 1979, Richard won 74 games and was at his athletic peak.

    In 1978 and 1979, Richard struck out more than 300 hitters each season.

    He was a National League All-Star in 1980.

    During a throwing session on July 30th, 1980, Richard suffered a stroke and was rushed to the hospital. He was unable to play until he tried to come back in 1981, but his reflexes weren't the same.

Dizzy Dean

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    From 1932 until the All-Star game of 1937, Dizzy Dean was one of the best pitchers in baseball.

    In that time, he won over 130 games, was the last 30 game winner in the National League and entertained folks with his homespun humor. He and his brother combined in 1934 to win 46 games.

    In the 1937 All Star game, Dean was struck on the toe by a line drive. When told it was fractured, he replied "Fractured hell, the dang thing is broke!"

    Changing his delivery to keep from landing so hard on the injured toe, he hurt his arm and last his fastball.

    He hung on for a bit, was traded to the Cubs where he did appear in the World Series. He finished up with the St. Louis Browns.

Mark "The Bird" Fidrych

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    According to the Baseball Reference, Mark Fidrych pitched in five big league seasons.

    "The Bird" pitched in only one.

    In 1976, Mark Fidrych, just 21 years old, captured the imagination of America by talking to the baseball, getting on his knees to fix the mound, and mowing through American League lineups.

    He finished the year 19-9, won the Rookie of the Year award and was seconnd in the Cy Young Voting.

    He pitched 250 innings, threw 24 complete games and had an ERA of 2.34. He achieved all of this while striking out just 97 hitters. His slider was lethal, inducing ground ball after ground ball.

    He had the world in his hand, but as quickly as it came upon him, it left him. After a knee injury in Spring Training in 1977, Fidrych changed his delivery slightly to compensate for the pain and it ended up hurting his arm.

    He pitched four more seasons, but was never a factor for the Tigers again.

Bo Jackson

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    How good could Bo have been?

    It all depends on who you talk to. This much we know.

    He was as fast as anyone who ever played the game.

    He could hit the ball as far as anyone.

    He could throw the ball on a line from the warning track to the plate.

    He might've been the best athlete to ever play the game.

    Was he a great player? Not yet. I wish we could've seen him develop and learn the nuances of the game.

    But one wrong step on the football field and it was all gone.

Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Maybe Ken Griffey doesn't fit in this category, but I included him because what he was wasn't what he would've been had he been injury free.

    He was still the best center fielder of his generation.

    He still had the prettiest swing.

    But he never became the guy who broke Ruth's record and hit 800 home runs.

    For a few years, he was the best player in the game, but instead of the new Babe Ruth, he became a fan favorite who still had that smile and for the most part was the kid we remembered.