Take Me Out to the Ball Game
After a crazy and unpredictable 2011 World Series full of upsets and surprises, a pre-season of intense training, trades, and questions, it is officially baseball season once more. The teams of the National and American leagues have donned their caps and gloves and dug their cleats into the fresh orange clay of the 2012 season.
Two weeks into the season and it’s already evident that injuries are playing a major role in the lineup. The Philadelphia Phillies have started the season without their first or second basemen. Ryan Howard ruptured his Achilles heel during the final out of the NL division series last season against the Saint Louis Cardinals. Since then he has undergone surgery to repair the tear and on February 27 underwent another procedure to remove an infection surrounding the repaired tendon. He recently was cleared to begin light practice without the use of his protective boot, however it is very possible he will miss at least the first two months. In addition, the Phillies’ second baseman Chase Utley is struggling to get the knee conditions that have plagued him under control. He left pre-season camp to see a specialist about the chronic problems and is uncertain if he will make an appearance on the field.
The Philadelphia Phillies are not the only team to start off the season with injuries. Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox was placed on the 15-day disabled list after suffering a partial dislocation of his right shoulder. The injury occurred when Ellsbury slid into Rays’ shortstop Reid Brignac at second base while trying to interrupt the Rays’ double play attempt in the fourth inning. After being knocked off balance, Brignac landed on Ellsbury’s right shoulder, causing the slight dislocation. It has yet to be determined whether he will need surgery to repair his shoulder but preliminary reports suggest he could miss four to six weeks.
There’s no doubt that teams can work out the kinks in the lineup. Despite injuries to key players, coaches are adjusting by rotating in alternate players for the positions.
On the other hand the beginning of the season marks the start of a transition period for players like Albert Pojuls and Prince Fielder. After a long career in the National League the duo have decided to make the switch to the American League. Albert Pojuls came to the Los Angeles Angels during the free agent insanity that occurred last December. Unfortunately Pojuls has yet to live up to his $240 million contract expectations. His batting average is at .217/.308/.304 in his first six games and Angels fans are still awaiting his first homerun in the new league.
The transition into the American League for Prince Fielder has been almost seamless. As one of the most powerful hitters in baseball, Fielder is expected to drive the Detroit Tigers to the top of the American League. In his first starts with the Detroit Tigers, Fielder has batted a .345, a promising start with a new team in a new league.
Despite the rocky beginning for some teams , the season is still extremely early. If the 2011 post season is any indication, baseball fans are in for another intense year of rivalry, determination and heart stopping action.