by Rob Joyce
For the first time in his career, San Francisco Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner is on the disabled list, and he’s expected to miss a couple of months. Obviously a significant blow for San Fran, it’s compounded by the fact that Bumgarner didn’t get hurt while on the mound – in fact, he wasn’t at the ballpark at all. An accident while riding a dirt bike left the 2014 World Series MVP with a sprained throwing shoulder and bruised ribs.
While unfortunate, it’s far from the first time that a professional athlete has missed significant time because of an off-the-field accident, especially in baseball. Here’s just a smattering of the company MadBum joins (including a former Giants’ star) as he awaits his comeback.
Pavano enjoyed a 14-year career, but a laundry list of injuries always seemed to kill any momentum his career was gaining. The most notorious of these came in 2013, when the then-Twins pitcher slipped while shoveling snow in Vermont, slamming his core into the shovel in the process. He wound up with a ruptured spleen, with complications forcing a comeback at age 37 to be cut short.
In March 2002, Giants’ second baseman Jeff Kent – the National League MVP just two years prior – broke a bone in his wrist early in spring training. What Kent claimed was that he broke it while washing his truck, certainly low on the list of activities that can end with significant harm. However, eyewitnesses saw a man that looked awfully like Kent trying to show off on a motorcycle the same day the second baseman got hurt. Embarrassing, for sure, but he wound up only missing four regular season games, hit .313 with 37 home runs and helped lead the Giants to the World Series.
The hard-throwing reliever had all the makings of a bullpen anchor as a rookie in 2006 with the Tigers, striking out 97 batters in 83.1 innings with a sub-2.00 earned run average. But during the playoffs, as Detroit was on a run to the World Series, Zumaya missed the ALCS with what turned out to be a sore wrist that came from playing too much Guitar Hero. Thus began an injury-riddled career that included, but wasn’t limited to, a separated shoulder caused by a box falling on it in 2007. He’d never throw more than 38 innings again in the majors.
It goes without saying that baseball games are played outdoors, and, well, occasionally that means exposure to the sun. That became a problem for the Orioles’ outfielder in 2002 after he fell asleep in a tanning bed, burning his face. By doctor’s orders he had to stay out of the sun for a bit, forcing the former Rookie of the Year to miss a few days games.
Prior to the biggest start of your career it’s reasonable for an athlete to concentrate on a hobby to take the mind off of the incredible pressure. Unfortunately for Indians’ starter Trevor Bauer, drones are his hobby, and when his drone unexpectedly turned on when he plugged it in, it cut up his pinky finger pretty badly. His start in Game 2 of last year’s ALCS was pushed back to Game 3, but the time off didn’t help – he only recorded two outs when the stitches popped and blood poured everywhere. He was able to return for the World Series.
After slugging 36 home runs for the Braves in 1993, Gant re-upped with Atlanta for one year and $5.5 million, among the biggest contracts in baseball at the time. However, he never got a chance to live up to it, as a dirt bike accident in the offseason broke his right leg. He was released by Atlanta, missed all of 1994, and became a journeyman before retiring after playing just 17 games in 2003 with Oakland.