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Over before it’s started

by Matt Smith

It’s all too easy to get swept along by the joy of Spring Training beginning again for another year, but spare a thought for players such as Kris Benson.  As you would have probably read, Benson has suffered a partially torn rotator cuff and his 2007 season is currently in the balance.  The Orioles are being cautiously optimistic in hoping that surgery may not be necessary and that a substantial period of rehab will do the trick (which would keep him out for a few months).  Benson himself seems less confident and it looks as though he will end up going under the knife.  If so, Benson will not pitch again until the 2008 season.  What a terrible way to start your Spring Training camp.

Every year you hear similar stories.  Mike Hampton, for example, will come to Spring Training eager to make up for his lost 2006 campaign.  Francisco Liriano will be sorely missed by all baseball fans this year as he becomes the latest player to works his way back from Tommy John surgery.  For all the improvements in conditioning work and medical science, injuries are always going to be a part of sport.  Liriano’s injury highlights the advances that have been made.  Thirty years ago, his career would have been finished before it had barely begun.  Although he will not pitch in 2007, Liriano at least has a fair chance to come back and (hopefully) be a dominant starter for many years to come.

Benson’s injury may not have any bearing on who wins what this year (a harsher critic than me may say it will help the Orioles “win” the AL East wooden spoon), but that’s not the point.  At the very least, the potential surgery will mean a year of his career has been taken away from him.

Several newspapers today carried photos of Michael Owen running on the Newcastle training pitch.  It was good to see him well on the road to recovery as both Newcastle and England have missed him badly, but we shouldn’t forget that however much we miss the players from a fans’ perspective, it must be ten-times worse for the player himself.

Here’s hoping Kris makes a good recovery.

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