Sports

A brief summary of freak injuries, weird spring training mishaps throughout MLB history

Editor’s note: This story has been updated since its original publication, as MLB players keep finding odd ways to get hurt during spring training.

There’s just something about spring training, and the greater offseason in general, that brings out odd mishaps and injuries in baseball. The Twins’ Byron Buxton chipping a tooth while, um, biting into a steak, is just the latest example.

Type “weird spring training injuries” into the ol’ Google machine and a bevy of articles comes up. But to save you the trouble, here’s a quick rundown of some of the truly weird ones.

In 2018, Tim Tebow sprained an ankle after an unfortunate run-in with a sprinkler. But Tebow was hardly a trendsetter in that regard.

MORE: 10 single-season MLB feats we’ll never see again

Back in 2015, Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders was tripping over sprinklers before it was cool. But his injury was more serious than Tebow’s — he tore a knee ligament.

Players don’t just have to look out for inanimate objects to avoid injury. Just ask Derek Holland, who got hurt when he  tripped over a dog in 2014. 

A year before Holland’s fall, Michael Taylor of the A’s won the retroactive Hold My Beer Award when he cut his finger trying to throw away gum

And let’s not forget when Rays pitcher David Price hurt his neck by toweling off his head too hard in 2012.

But by the time all those happened, Hunter Pence — already a lovable weirdo — was a veteran of an all-time weird injury. See, back in 2008, he got all cut up when he walked into a glass door

Then there was the time the Cubs’ Kerry Wood got hurt when he fell out of a hot tub in 2007, and the time when the Brewers’ Steve Sparks dislocated a shoulder while trying to rip a phone book in half in 1994. 

And then there’s the urban legend of a young John Smoltz burning his chest when he tried to iron a shirt while wearing it. But, to be fair, Smoltz says that’s not really what happened.

Even before players arrive in spring training, the offseason tends to put people in position to hurt themselves in other ways. During the 2017-18 offseason, Royals manager Ned Yost nearly died after he fell while repairing a tree stand used for hunting. And a year before that, Royals pitcher Brian Flynn missed eight weeks after he fell through the roof of a barn . (Note: If you’re associated with the Royals, please avoid high places.)

Spring training is often dull because the games are meaningless and the stats don’t count, so tallying freak injuries is definitely a worthy way to pass time until Opening Day.

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