Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz returned to the team this month after missing roughly half the season with a shoulder injury. The cause of that ailment? Buchholz fell asleep holding his baby daughter.
In doing so, Buchholz joined the grand tradition of MLB players who have been sidelined with freak injuries, most of them hilarious. Who can forget the time Sammy Sosa sneezed so hard he gave himself back spasms? Or when Jeff Kent said he fell washing his truck, when he actually failed at doing wheelies on a motorcycle? Then there's Clarence "Climax" Blethen, who bit himself in the butt with his false teeth.
This year alone, more than a dozen players, Buchholz included, have been felled by bizarre injuries.
Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano got things started in the offseason by being the worst Santa Claus ever. As his kids played with their new toys on Christmas Day, Liriano tried to scare them by pounding on a door, but instead broke his arm.
A few weeks later, Carl Pavano ruptured his spleen while shoveling snow at his Vermont home. The injury, though initially as puzzling as it was comical, turned out to be life-threatening. (He eventually recovered.)
The Rays' Joel Peralta, determined to get his hands on some sandwiches, risk be damned, hurt his neck while getting out of his car to do so. Peralta was driving a Camaro. No word on whether he got those sandwiches.
Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez suffered a minor injury after he enthusiastically rubbed his face on his dog. Gonzalez gave himself rug burn on his forehead, and in the process proved, once and for all, that cats are better than dogs.
"She gave me a rug burn," he said. "I hate her. And then I love her. And then I look in her face and then I love her again."
Elvis Andrus missed a spring training game while recovering from getting a tattoo. He only missed one game, though, which was more than Red Sox prospect Bryce Brentz could say. Brentz missed months of the preseason after pulling a Plaxico Burress and accidentally shooting himself in the leg.
Sure, guns are understandably dangerous. But travel, too, has been hazardous to pro ballplayers. Lance Berkman injured his knee falling down a flight of stairs on the Rangers' team plane. And the Dodgers' Jerry Hairston Jr. needed stitches after tripping over a suitcase and banging his head.
Celebratory high-fives, apparently, are also not without risk. Texas' Jeff Baker learned that the hard way when he sprained his thumb high-fiving a teammate who, he said, was "a little overexcited for some reason."
In an ominous sign for what would become a strange, sad season in Minnesota, Twins reliever Anthony Swarzak cracked a few ribs in the preseason with some ill-advised "horseplay."
Former Twin Torii Hunter would laugh about that misfortune, except he left a game this summer with a similarly head-scratching injury. Hunter hurt his Achilles, not while playing, but while wearing dress shoes that "might have been a little tight on the Achilles."
Oakland outfielder Michael Taylor somehow cut his finger while throwing away his chewing gum in the team clubhouse. At least Ian Kennedy cut his finger on something sharp — the dishes he was trying, and failing, to wash without incident.
And finally, catcher Steve Clevenger wins the prize for the most embarrassing injury of the year.
Inserted as a pinch hitter in an April game, the then-Cub came to the plate in the ninth inning, his team trailing by one. Down to his last strike, Clevenger swung for the fences, but whiffed so hard he strained an oblique muscle. He went on the 60-day disabled list, as did his dignity.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- How I lost all my money
- The best books we read in 2014
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How to wrap a present with mathematical precision (and waste less paper)
Subscribe to the Week