|Chavez might be nearing the end|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on May 19, 2009
Eric Chavez has gained a reputation as an injury-prone player over the last few seasons. His health status has always been reported as a good sign ("Eric Chavez enters this season healthy.") only for it to turn into a punch line ("Eric Chavez hits the disabled list again.")
We may not be seeing much more of Chavez, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The next time Eric Chavez's back goes out, it will be the end of his career.
"Pretty much game, set and match," the A's third baseman told The Chronicle by phone from his home in Phoenix.
Chavez is rehabbing his most recent back problem in Arizona in the hopes of rejoining the A's on their next homestand. Doctors, however, have told him that a herniated disk in his back could go at any time, even if he sneezes.
If that happens, Chavez will need to have his previously repaired vertebra, the L4-L5, fused with the vertebra that is currently herniated, which is the L3-L4. Another microdiscectomy such as the one Chavez had in October, 2007, is out, because it would leave his spine too unstable, Chavez said.
Spinal fusions don't allow for the type of physical activity performed by pro athletes.
Position players put their back through a tremendous amount of stress. (Go to the batting cages for a day and take swing after swing after swing. How does your back feel the next day?) This is why injuries to the back continue to crop up, even after a player has gotten over a previous injury.
Vladimir Guerrero has a violent swing to be sure, but he's missed time the last several seasons because of back issues. Back injuries just have a way of coming back to haunt hitters.
This definitely isn't good news for Chavez. We should hope he's not ready to quit playing baseball, but his health may dictate that. It seems as if Chavez won't play much longer at the major league level.