Thursday, August 7, 2008

By Brok Butcher - Arkansas Travelers starting pitcher

I am lying down on a queen size bed at the Homestead Suites in Tempe, Ariz., watching Sportscenter while trying to rehab a shoulder injury. The temperature here in Tempe averages about 105 degrees daily, with highs reaching nearly 118. I can assimilate Arizona and Arkansas to a sauna and a steam room. Saunas can get up to 170 degrees with absolutely no moisture, while sucking the oil right out of your skin, just as it does in Arizona. Steam rooms can reach a tolerable 120 degrees, leaving your entire body soaked in sweat, as in the case in Arkansas. Which do I prefer? I would have to go with the sauna because there are at least a few spots on your clothes that are actually dry after a 30-minute run.

It's been difficult rehabbing over here in Arizona, mostly because I am unable to play baseball due to problems with my shoulder. I got an MRI, which showed that there is a decent sized tear in my labrum, a sprain in my superspraspinatus and type 1 acromius. The acromius is the bone on the top of the shoulder and type 1 means that it has bent a little, putting strain on the rotator cuff. I could feel the tear that I have been battling since last season get a little worse about a month and a half ago. My arm felt as though it could never get loose and I had a constant nagging pain that just didn't seem to fade. I thought this condition would go away and decided to pitch through the pain, not saying anything to my trainer or coaches. My wishful thinking had me hoping that I was just experiencing a bad case of dead arm and that my arm would come alive again sooner than later.

Well, it obviously was buried six feet under with no chance of resurrection! It was the same feeling I had at the end of last year, just a little worse, so I kinda knew what was going on. I tried the positive thinking bit, but who was I kidding? I knew what was going on and I could have positive thunk 'til my head turned white, but that wouldn't change the chemistry in my shoulder. I do believe a lot in thinking positively, it just didn't work for this situation.

I usually spend around four to five hours a day at Tempe Diablo Stadium (Angels minor league spring training complex) working on developing the muscles around the labrum, the rotator cuff, the lats, the core and the legs. I know most of "Team Rehab" because I've played with a lot of them. Our main focus is to get the heck out of here and continue on with our careers. I am getting another MRI today because the doc wants another look at the inside of my shoulder; he said the previous MRI is a little unclear. My dad and brother are coming to visit me today, which is great news; they tend to relieve me from the monotony of the heat and knowing that I might have to get surgery.

Before I sent this blog in for publication, I learned that a second MRI revealed a full blown tear in my labrum that will require surgery. I am scheduled for season ending shoulder surgery Aug. 15. Dr. Yocum has informed me that I will require 6-9 months of rehab before I can be cleared to pitch again next season. Dr Yocum is a great physician and I have the utmost confidence in him getting me back to pain free pitching.


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