Saturday, May 22, 2010
Updated: May 23, 4:18 PM ET
Chavez on DL with bulging disks
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Longtime Athletics star Eric Chavez is injured once again and acknowledges his career could be over.
"It might be," Chavez said Saturday. "I don't know what the future's going to hold."
Oakland placed its longest-tenured player on the 15-day disabled list because of two bulging disks in his neck. The team referred to the injury as neck spasms in making its roster move and manager Bob Geren wouldn't speculate on the severity.
The 32-year-old designated hitter has been having spasms on both sides of his neck since getting hurt during a spring training drill in which a minor leaguer collided with his right shoulder. The impact jerked his neck to the left in what Chavez described as a "whiplash" motion.
"It was like playing pingpong," Chavez said of the spasms on either side.
While he has been receiving regular treatment for the spasms, Chavez said he kept the condition between only himself and the training staff -- not even telling Geren. A couple of weeks ago, Chavez pushed for an MRI exam because he knew he wasn't right.
The results showed the bulges in the C6 and C7 disks.
"I wasn't too shocked," he said. "I knew what I was feeling."
Chavez has spent all 13 of his major league seasons with the A's. He is hitting .234 with one home run and 10 RBIs this year.
Also Saturday, the A's activated second baseman Mark Ellis from the DL for the middle game of the Bay Bridge Series against the San Francisco Giants. Ellis had been out since April 21 with a strained left hamstring.
Chavez had been committed to playing through this, but realized that would be tough for the long haul. Now, he's headed home to Arizona to rest and rehabilitate yet another time.
There's no plan for Chavez to have surgery or an injection.
"No timetable," athletic trainer Steve Sayles said. "We're just going to let him go home and rest. He'll let us know [when he's ready]. It's all up to him. Could it shelve him for the year? It's possible."
Chavez often was in discomfort while swinging a bat, and experienced numbness in his shoulders. For two weeks he slept in a neck brace. He received chiropractic treatment that would give him relief only for a couple of hours to get through a game. Chavez would have a few good at-bats followed by three games of struggles.
"I'd have good days and bad days," he said.
Geren is optimistic Chavez could return this season. But the six-time Gold Glove third baseman said he might be done after several injury-plagued years.
Chavez played in only eight games last season and has undergone five operations since Sept. 5, 2007, including two microdiscectomy surgeries in different spots in his back. He also has undergone three shoulder surgeries.
"It's discouraging," Chavez said. "I almost wish I could say it was my back. I wish I could say it was my shoulder. It's something new."
He said before this year began that if he sustains another serious injury, it likely would be time to walk away from baseball. Chavez is in the final season of a $66 million, six-year contract extension he signed in March 2004 that includes a 2011 club option.
Giants pitcher Barry Zito, Chavez's former A's teammate, was sorry to hear of the latest medical setback.
"You can only do what you can do," Zito said. "A lot of times in life, we can only achieve what our bodies allow. There's a life you have to have after baseball, too, which people forget. You have 40-50 years left and you have to have a productive life. If anyone's going to keep a level head about things, it's Chavy."
Ellis has played alongside Chavez in the infield for nearly eight years. They are close friends and live near each other in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"It was tough for me this morning when I found out he was going on the DL," said Ellis, who hopes Chavez will return. "I hope he does [come back]. It's up to him, whatever makes him happy. If not, he's had a great career."