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Friday, December 24, 2010
Updated: December 25, 4:04 PM ET
Some weird injuries broke out in 2010

By Jayson Stark
ESPN.com

It was another one of those Strange But True years in the old trainer's room. It wasn't safe to hit a grand slam. It's never been more precarious to celebrate a grand slam. And even slipping on a shirt had the potential to land a guy on the disabled list.

So if all that could happen in the same year, you'd better buckle up your seat belt before you check out all the Strangest But Truest Injuries of 2010:

Strangest But Truest Injury Of The Year

There's nothing better than a little pie -- if you work for Betty Crocker. But if you're Chris Coghlan? Hoo, boy. Pie will never be the same for this guy again.

Chris Coghlan
It was a painful experience for Chris Coghlan, right, when he celebrated a game-winning hit by teammate Wes Helms in late July.

We're betting right now this is one Marlins hit machine who won't be ordering pie a la mode for the rest of his life -- not after tearing his meniscus trying to slam a postgame pie into the face of Wes Helms after a July 25 walk-off.

Thanks to that half-baked mishap, Coghlan needed knee surgery that burned up the rest of his season. And that left such a bad, uh, taste in his mouth, he may never even be able to watch "American Pie" again.

Strangest But True Hot-To-Trot Injuries Of The Year

We've been worried for years that a home run ball was going to get somebody hurt someday. We just thought it would be some bleacher creature working on his sixth beverage of the night -- not the guy who hit the home run.

But after this past season, we know different -- because five different players found a way to get themselves injured either before, during or immediately after the once-glamorous act of going deep:

• Angels power plant Kendry Morales wiped himself out for the season when he tried to jump on home plate after a May 29 walk-off grand slam and didn't quite nail the landing. Instead, he broke his leg and never took another swing all year. So kids, don't try that at home -- let alone at home plate.

• With one mighty swing of the bat May 21, Cardinals pitcher Brad Penny moved ahead of Mark Reynolds and Rickie Weeks on the Most Career Grand Slams charts (1-0). But that'll about do it for the good news. The bad news was, Penny also ended his season with that swing of the bat. Tore a lat muscle. Spent the rest of the season on the disabled list, savoring his Mickey Mantle moment.

• If you've never heard of the awesome wezen-ball.com, a site that keeps track of the fastest and slowest home run trots on earth, let's just say it was invented for moments like this. On June 30, Orioles thumper Luke Scott discovered he literally didn't know his own strength. He lofted a ball into the seats in left-center at Camden Yards, but unfortunately wasn't aware of that until it was a little too late. So he roared around first, blew out his hamstring and clinched the Slowest Trot of 2010 Award. Wezen-ball timed his orbit of the bases at a gimpy 35.76 seconds. But it took even longer than that for Scott to heal up and make it back into the batter's box -- after the All-Star break.

• It sounds kind of cool that the final swing of Jim Edmonds' career might have been a Sept. 21 homer against the Brewers. But you won't have to thumb through any copies of the New Yorker to find any poetic accounts of this memorable blast. The only reason it was the last swing of Edmonds' year, and possibly his career, is that he popped his Achilles on the way around third base. But we're happy to report that at least he made it home 7.5 seconds faster than Luke Scott did.

• There were 409 home runs hit last season by big league second basemen. Exactly one of them was hit by a Met. And even that one didn't turn out so hot -- because the guy who hit it (Luis Hernandez, on Sept. 18) never played again. But at least he can't blame his troubles on a trotting snafu. The issue here was that Hernandez had just broken his foot with a foul ball, one pitch before going deep off Tim Hudson. Didn't seem to mess up his swing any. But he was in so much agony when he began the rest of his journey, it took him 33.08 torturous seconds to stagger around the bases. "It was his Kirk Gibson moment," said Hudson, with exactly the right touch of I-don't-believe-what-I-just-saw awe.

Strangest But True Double-Trouble Injuries Of The Year

Anybody could stumble into one goofy injury. But Mariners masher Russell Branyan doubled his calamities last season.

Russell Branyan
Branyan

First, he got ambushed by his hotel curtains in July, when he woke up around dawn, headed for the window to close the curtains and toppled over a coffee table -- which then fell on his foot and executed a squeeze play on his toe. Missed a week after that misadventure.

Then, in September, he found a way to get hurt during a family trip to the always-hazardous pizza parlor. And he wasn't even attacked by a runaway pepperoni.

The trouble started innocently enough, when his son kicked off a flip-flop. Branyan then reached one way to pick it up. His chair went the other way. So he wound up falling on his tailbone and missing the last three weeks of the season. Just more proof that nothing in life is more underrated than takeout.

Strangest But Truest Wardrobe-Malfunction Injury

We bet you thought the worst thing that could happen to a guy while putting on his shirt was discovering it was missing like three buttons. But that would look like a GQ cover gig to Astros utility whiz Geoff Blum, considering the stunt his shirt pulled on him in July.

There he was, innocently slipping on that fateful shirt after a game, when he felt his elbow pop. Next thing he knew, he needed arthroscopic elbow surgery to zap some bone chips.

Blum has since absolved the shirt of all blame. But Astros broadcast-witticist Jim Deshaies later told our Strange But True correspondents that he only used to worry about chips while removing his shirt:

"When I took off my shirt," he said, "the only chips they found were a half-eaten bag of Lays Potato Chips."

Strangest But Truest Caught-In-The-Act Injury

You might think it would have been tough for the Orioles to top that little Luke Scott home run-trot misadventure on this Strange But True Injury of the Year list. But wait till you hear this one.

Last winter, the Orioles innocently set out to film a promotional commercial, only to have one of their best pitchers (Brad Bergesen) hurt his shoulder by throwing too many pitches -- at game speed.

Bergesen then showed up in spring training with that shoulder hurting, and the poor guy didn't get his ERA under 6.00 until the second week of August.

Oh, and apparently the commercial didn't help much, either, since the Orioles finished 24th in the big leagues in attendance.

So find this team some stunt doubles!

Strangest But Truest Managerial Mishap Of The Year

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire undoubtedly thought he was going to get through the season unscathed when he made it all the way to the last week of September in one piece. But that'll teach him.

Ron Gardenhire
Gardenhire

One second he was just doing his usual pregame thing Sept. 26, taking throws at first base from shortstop J.J. Hardy during batting practice. The next, second baseman Alexi Casilla smoked him in the ear with a throw he never saw coming.

Within moments, Gardenhire reported, his ear "went ka-boom." And he wound up having ear surgery that day in the clubhouse, while the game was going on. But it could have been worse, he said: At least Casilla had finally showed off that great arm of his.

"Best throw he's made all year," Gardenhire told the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Joe Christensen. "I've been telling him all year, 'Quit lobbing the ball. Throw the ball, son.' Just didn't know he'd do it in BP when I wasn't looking."

In Other Strange But True News …

• Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco essentially ended his season in August when he tore his meniscus -- while tying his shoelaces.

• Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson was stung by a scorpion.

• Dodgers catcher Russell Martin blew out his hip -- by turning to see if he'd just been called out at the plate.

• Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey fell asleep on his flight back from the All-Star break, got scrunched in the wrong position and strained his neck enough that the Mets had to rearrange their post-break rotation.

• Phillies reliever Ryan Madson blew a save, took it out on the nearest folding chair, broke a toe and spent two months on the disabled list.

• Orioles manager Buck Showalter tweaked his knee arguing with an umpire.

• We're guessing Rays reliever Grant Balfour won't be making any future guest appearances on editions of "Monday Night Raw" after straining a rib-cage muscle in a "playful" pregame wrestling tussle with pitching coach Jim Hickey.

• Indians coach Ruben Niebla had to be carted off the field after wiping out his ACL during some "harmless" pregame shagging.

• Assuming we can believe the 78th different account of this, A.J. Burnett sliced up both hands -- and knocked himself out of a July 17 start in the third inning -- when he got teed off about the three runs he'd just given up in the first two innings, tried to slam the clubhouse door in frustration and cut himself on the lineup-card holders mounted on the door. Good times.

• Two different Pirates second basemen (Bobby Crosby and Neil Walker) got bonked in collisions with two different right fielders and wound up with concussions.

• Now Cardinals infielder Felipe Lopez knows how Jose Canseco once felt. Lopez aggravated his elbow in April -- by pitching in the Cardinals' 20-inning marathon with the Mets. Got a three-week visit to the disabled list out of it.

• Finally, Padres ace Mat Latos wound up on the disabled list after straining a rib-cage muscle -- in a not-real-successful attempt to avoid sneezing. And there are only three words for that: "Strange." … "True." … And "Gesundheit!"

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His latest book, "Worth The Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies," was published by Triumph Books and is available in bookstores and online. Click here to order a copy.