My all-time favorite line of dialogue from The Sopranos was when Paulie Walnuts tried to convince Christopher that he went to purgatory – not hell – by saying, “Hell is hot. That’s never been disputed by anybody.”
Along the same lines: Catching is brutal. That’s never been disputed either.
On June 22nd, Dusty Brown strained ligaments in his left thumb when a runner slid into his glove at home plate.
Six days later, Victor Martinez broke his left thumb when he got hit by a pair of foul tips in back-to-back innings.
And three days after that, Jason Varitek broke a bone in his right foot when he got nailed by a foul ball.
Then you have catcher Mark Wagner who was out of action for nine weeks with a broken hamate bone in his left hand. Was it a foul tip? A violent collision? A shard of a broken bat?
“It was just on a normal swing of the bat,” Wagner said. “I felt fine leading up to it and then on one weird swing – that’s all she wrote.”
(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)
Wagner had surgery to remove the hamate bone on May 4th, and hoped to be back in action in as little as six weeks. But after his hand healed, Mark began to experience pain in his left wrist.
“I’m no doctor but it seems like they did a heck of a job healing my hand,” Wagner said. “Unfortunately, I must have tweaked something else while taking swings and I had a little setback. But I’m trying to fight through it and I’m happy to be back in action. It’s coming along and feeling a lot better.”
The 26-year-old catcher returned to the PawSox on Tuesday and will catch every-other-game until the All-Star break. When he isn’t in the lineup, the Sox want him to cut back on his swings in the batting cage to make sure that he allows his wrist to completely heal.
“It’s a challenge not to do extra work,” Wagner told me. “I’ve always been the kind of guy that tries to play with his hair on fire. It’s going to be tough for me to come back and slow things down because I try to do everything 100%. But it’s definitely a good learning experience. I need to be smart, listen to my body, and know what to expect.”
With Martinez and Varitek currently on the disabled list, Wagner admits it’s frustrating to know that he would probably be Boston’s starting catcher right now if he had remained healthy.
“A little bit, but there’s really nothing you can do about it,” Wagner said. “It’s one of those things that unfortunately happens and right now, the bottom line is that we’ve got to find a way to get healthy. Cash and Molina are doing a heck of a job, but everybody wants to get up there and help. We wish Martinez and Varitek speedy recoveries, because everybody wants to win a championship.”
If Wagner can prove that he’s healthy and performs well, there could be an opportunity for a rapid promotion to Boston.
“That’s out of my hands and I have no idea what’s going to happen,” he said. “Right now I just want to make sure that I’m healthy enough to play every day and help the team win.”
* * * * *
After salvaging the final game of the 4-game series at Lehigh Valley with a 4-2 win on Wednesday, the PawSox open a 4-game homestand on Thursday night as they host Rochester at 7:05.
Since the Red Sox have the night off, you can get your baseball fix at McCoy Stadium and it’s PawSox Cap Night for the first 4,000 fans. If you can’t make it to Pawtucket, you catch watch the game on NESN or we invite you to join us for radio coverage on the PawSox radio network or pawsox.com beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50.
I’d love to hear from you. Please take a moment to tell me who you are and where you’re from in the comments section or you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard