In what appears to be turning into somewhat of a tradition, yet another baseball player has injured himself ahead of spring training in an unusual way. On Tuesday, Kansas City Royals reliever Brian Flynn fell through the roof of his barn in Oklahoma, resulting in a broken rib and three non-displaced fractures in his vertebrae.
“He was working on his barn and fell through the roof,” Royals Manger Ned Yost told reporters (via Kansas City Star) at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “So he took a pretty good tumble, knocked himself out.”
Flynn, who was not assured a spot in the Royals bullpen, is expected to take about eight weeks to recover, which Yost said will put him “behind everybody else.”
Pitching his first season in the big leagues last year, the 26-year-old appeared in 36 games, managing a 2.60 ERA in 55 1/3 innings.
Flynn’s bizarre spring training injury follows a string of others from previous years. In 2016, then-Milwaukee Brewers reliever Will Smith twisted his knee after losing his balance while trying to take his shoe off.
And then there was 2015, when at least four players sustained spring training injuries in unusual ways:
- Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale arrived to training camp with a broken foot, sustained when he dropped a heavy box on it while unloading his truck.
- Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders tore the meniscus in his knee when he awkwardly stepped on a sprinkler head;
- Former Tampa Bay Rays reliever Ronald Belisario fractured his shoulder while climbing out of a swimming pool; and,
- Former Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Corey Hart sliced his foot on a hot tub and needed stitches.
The crowning glory of weird spring training injury still belongs to former Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Steve Sparks, who in 1994 dislocated his shoulder while trying to tear a phone book in half.
“I had it halfway ripped apart when my shoulder popped out,” the player recalled to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2013.
Sparks was attempting to motivate his team by showing off the trick when it failed miserably. Coincidentally, maybe, the Brewers finished last in the American League Central Division with a 53-62 record.
Of course, bizarre baseball injuries aren’t limited to spring training. Let us not forget the time when ex-Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa had to miss a game after he hurt his back while sneezing in 2004; Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar was also temporarily sidelined after he injured an oblique muscle in a similar manner 10 years later.
And then there are the more modern problems. Former San Diego Padres right-hander Adam Eaton missed a start for the Padres in 2001 when he tried to open a DVD with a kitchen knife and stabbed himself instead. And ex-Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya had to sit out after injuring his elbow by playing “Guitar Hero” too much.
While it’s easy to make fun of these doofus-like injuries, however, let he who has never handled chili peppers directly before putting in his contact lenses cast the first stone. That won’t be former Cubs outfielder Bret Barberie, however. He did that in 1994, went temporarily blind and had to miss a game.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Chris Sale played for the Chicago Cubs in 2015, he played for the White Sox.