After 162 games in the regular season, additional games in the playoffs, and even more in the World Series, the wear and tear on the bodies of Major League Baseball players can be brutal. Just ask Texas Rangers Max Scherzer and Adolis Garcia. Both are on a team fighting for the MLB World Series Championship, and both are out with back injuries that occurred in Game 3.
The bad news for Ranger fans got worse before Game 4. The official website of Major League Baseball reported, “García was unable to swing properly and was subsequently replaced on the World Series roster ahead of Tuesday’s Game 4, along with Game 3 starter Max Scherzer. García and Scherzer are both ineligible to return for the remaining games of the Fall Classic, which the Rangers now lead 3-1 following an 11-7 win in Game 4.”
According to Fox Network baseball analyst and contributor to “The Athletic” website, Ken Rosenthal, “The situation is unusually delicate for a team within two victories of its first Series title, but the length of a baseball season presents unique challenges, often right to the end. García, 30, went 0-for-3 with a walk in Game 3, but he is batting .323 with eight home runs and a 1.108 OPS in these playoffs. His 22 RBIs are a record for a single postseason, albeit with the qualifier that he is playing an extra round in the expanded playoffs. Among the Rangers, perhaps only Corey Seager has been as valuable in October.”
Thoughts From an Expert on Back Injuries
Back injuries to these highly conditioned and well-trained athletes present a cautionary tale for non-athletes, who can also incur this type of injury. For insights about what caused the season-ending injuries to these Rangers, Texas Back Institute spine surgeon (and baseball fan) Dr. Rey Bosita offers his insights.
Ranger pitcher Max Scherzer had a previous neck injury that affected him in the 2019 World Series. Could this earlier neck injury cause his back to “lock up” in Game 3?
“Yes, it could,” Dr. Bosita said. “Sometimes an injury to one part of the body will cause overcompensation from another part of the body. It depends on how chronic and nagging the old injury is. However, there is a chance that the old neck injury may have healed completely, and this current injury is caused by a different issue.”
What is the recommended treatment or therapy for this type of injury that ended Scherzer’s season?
“Typically, physical therapy with modalities like muscle stimulation is helpful,” Dr. Bosita said. Anti-inflammatory medications could also be used. In terms of how long this might take to allow him to pitch again, results will vary because I don’t know exactly what his injury is. However, conservative treatment can be effective within a couple of days.”
Outfielder Adolis Garcia has had several home runs and long-ball hits during the current season, and especially during the ALCS and World Series. In this game, he also threw out a Diamondback runner at the plate who was attempting to score earlier in the game. Could these many powerful swings and that long throw from the outfield result in what has been preliminarily called an oblique injury or core muscle strain?
“Yes,” Dr. Bosita said. “Such powerful exertion in a small amount of time with relatively long breaks in between can cause injury. In those high-leverage situations, the athlete gives 100 percent effort to hit the home run or throw the runner out at the plate.
“Since I have not examined him and don’t know the exact cause of this acute injury, the length of time his rehab might take is difficult to predict.”
What These Back Injuries Mean to Non-Athletes
Dr. Bosita treats patients with back injuries every day, and his experience suggests that the injuries experienced by Scherzer and Garcia are common for non-athletes.
“I see patients with these kinds of injuries all the time,” he said. “Some are caused by athletics, but many are also caused by mishaps in everyday life. There are ways for all of us to avoid these injuries.
“Before participating in sports, it’s very important to warm up properly and stretch. The older the athlete, the more pre-exertion stretching and warming up are needed. Also, think before you act. Divide big loads into smaller ones before lifting. Finally, when doing increased activities for longer periods of time, stay hydrated and listen to your body when things start to hurt.”
Back injuries are not limited to professional athletes like the Texas Rangers. They can put even non-athletes on IR. If you are experiencing back pain, listen to your body and schedule an appointment with the spine experts at Texas Back Institute. Just click here and get back in the game!