Hip Talk has Dodger Fans Feeling a Little Uncomfortable

I will be the very first to admit that when I first heard about Clayton Kershaw’s hip issues late last season, I was one uncomfortable Dodger fan, and I know I wasn’t the only one. I immediately had visions of Bo Jackson and notorious hot-headed slugger Albert Bell, whose baseball careers ended at ages 32 and 34 respectively because of hip issues. And then, of course, there is A-Rod, who underwent what was considered a relatively minor hip surgery two years ago and now needs a second hip surgery scheduled for mid-January that will most likely take him out for the entire 2013 season.

You would think that I would find solace in the fact that most baseball-related hip injuries affect hitters and not pitchers, but I can assure you that I find absolute no comfort in this whatsoever; not when we’re talking about arguably the best left-hander to come along since Sandy Koufax.

Could there be more to the Hyun-jin Ryu and Zack Greinke signings that only concerns about Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly - like maybe Clayton Kershaw's hip? (Photo credit - Christian Petersen)

Could there be more to the Hyun-jin Ryu and Zack Greinke signings than only concerns about Chad Billingsley’s and Ted Lilly’s health – like maybe Clayton Kershaw’s hip?
(Photo credit – Christian Petersen)

And while I do not think that Clayton Kershaw has a dishonest or malicious bone in his body, I am having a very difficult time accepting his claim that the hip issue that caused him to miss one start and delayed another last season is 100% healed and will not be a factor in the future; I just can’t get behind this.

I’ll also admit that I had pretty much forgotten about Clayton’s hip issue when he finished the 2012 season with two exceptional starts. But the recent emergence of A-Rod’s pending second hip surgery and even more recently, the Red Sox reluctance to sign catcher Mike Napoli because of his lingering hip issues has once again put Clayton Kershaw’s hip issue back into the spotlight, at least for me, that is.

Kershaw was diagnosed as having a torn acetabular labrum, and while this is as foreign to me as Latin or Greek or Farsi, I am educated enough to know that a torn anything isn’t good, and in most cases torn anythings usually do not heal all by themselves. I also know that Clayton is as tough of a competitor as was Sandy Koufax, who pitched the final season of his career in 1966 (one of the best seasons in MLB history by any pitcher) while in absolute pain every waking moment. As such, do you honestly believe that Clayton is going to complain to anyone, especially to his trainers or to his manager, that he is in too much pain to pitch? I don’t think so. Complaining simply isn’t in Kershaw’s DNA.

I’ll go along with Clayton’s and Dodger management’s claim that he is completely pain free right now and that there will be no limitations placed on him when pitchers and catchers report for spring training in a short six weeks, but here again, I will be the first to admit that Clayton’s torn anything is going to be at the forefront of my mind every single time he takes the mound – and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one on this either.

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6 Responses to “Hip Talk has Dodger Fans Feeling a Little Uncomfortable”

  1. CRANBROOK MIKE says:

    The key thing for me, is that we don’t know how severe that injury was. I totally believe in my heart that he will be ok. I don’t think for one single second that had all the team Dr’s not all been on board with allowing Clayton to pitch those last two games, there is no way on god’s green earth they would have allowed him to pitch. Not to say towards the end of the season he won’t re-injure that hip, because now that it’s been torn once, the chances of it happening again are much greater. This I understand as with any injury. I also have no doubt picking Grienke up had nothing to do with Clayton’s injury. We truly needed to bolster this starting rotation plain and simple. We could “What if” this injury thing till the cows come home. As of right now, I sleep sound at night knowing we have a very solid rotation, one the likes us Dodger fans haven’t seen in years. So this is what I am running with, crossing my fingers Bills will be ok. I think he is the bigger question mark. So now run along 53 and get out of head!!

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      I appreciate your somewhat cavalier take on this, Mike; but if you recall, Clayton was allowed to make those final two starts because he (and the Dodgers) were told that pitching those games would not cause further damage to his hip and that the deciding factor to pitch was based 100% on any pain that Clayton was experiencing. Once I heard this, I absolutely knew that Clayton would pitch those two games because, as noted about, Clayton would never complain of pain.

      As we have discussed in depth several times about Billingsley’s torn ACL, tears simply do not heal on their own, and I have to believe that this includes Clayton’s torn acetabular labrum. And while I agree that the primary reason why Greinke and Ryu were signed was because of the uncertainty of Bill’s and Lilly, do you not think that Clayton’s hip issue is on the minds of Dodgers ownership? Do you not think that this may have something to do with why the Dodgers have not offered Clayton a long-term contract extension yet? Boy, I most certainly do.

      I am also a bit confused about your “…Not to say towards the end of the season he won’t re-injure that hip” comment. I don’t believe that an injury such as a torn acetabular labrum can be thought of as an end-of-the-season-only type of injury. I believe that such an injury could resurface again at any moment – even during spring training.

      Again, I appreciate your confidence that this is no big deal, but to me it is a HUGE deal – a far bigger deal to the Dodgers’ success than Billingsley elbow.

  2. OldBrooklynFan says:

    This is truly a problem. No wonder the Dodgers have eight men ready to start. With the likes of Billingsley, Lilly and Kershaw’s injuries still unknown if they will come out alright, you have to be concerned.
    It will be a tough enough season with 5 truly heathy starters, let alone all these “maybes”.

  3. Bluenose Dodger says:

    Roberto Baly has given this article top billing on his blog.

    I don’t want to talk about the possibility of Clayton having a nagging hip injury this season. But if I did talk about it, I would say I do have that possibility in the back of my mind. It wasn’t a stretch or a strain. It was a tear.

    That is one more reason why a healthy Chad is so important to the team. Unfortunately going back several months I think we pretty much agreed the team most likely just delayed the inevitable with Chad.

  4. MFGRREP says:

    My issue is a player needs to get the problem fixed sooner then later. At the end of the day though it looks to be all about money !!

  5. CRANBROOK MIKE says:

    My perspective is only from a fans stand point. If I were ownership, then yes I most certainly would be concerned. If I was employing someone and paying them millions of dollars then heck yes! As to my comment about the injury flaring up towards the end of the season, I was only referring to the wear and tear on the joint through the course of the season. I believe if anything is going to happen to the hip, it be be very early on as you refered to, even god forbid ST. If he can get through August I personally feel it will be fine. Jump on brother, and take a ride down the carefree highway with me :)

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