According to Francona (via MLB.com), Plesac was removing his undershirt in the Indians’ locker room following a rough start against the Minnesota Twins when the garment got snagged on a chair. After his right thumb became swollen, an MRI exam revealed a non-displaced fracture. That’s an odd enough scenario, but his manager’s comments Tuesday put things over the top.
Plesac was “rather aggressively ripping off his shirt,” Francona said.
In fact, there have been so many bizarre injuries throughout major league history, we’ll have to limit things here to just the past 30 years (sorry, Vince Coleman and Glenallen Hill). Even within that time frame, some crazy incidents had to hit the cutting-room floor, leaving us with these unfortunate episodes, listed in reverse chronological order.
The Cream of the Crop
Chris Coghlan, 2010 — The 2009 National League rookie of the year had a rougher go of it the following season. When another member of the Florida Marlins delivered a game-winning hit in July, Coghlan was all too eager to celebrate by hitting his teammate in the face with a shaving-cream pie. He failed to stick the landing, however, and tore the meniscus in his left knee, costing him the rest of the season.
Matt Wise, 2006 — MLB players have found all sorts of ridiculous ways to injure themselves with knives (right, Adam Eaton?), but at least they’re well-known to be dangerous items. Wise missed a few games for the Milwaukee Brewers after managing to cut the middle finger on his pitching hand with … salad tongs. If you’ve heard of something more ludicrous than that, lettuce know.
Terry Mulholland, 2005 — The Twins pitcher suffered a badly scratched eye from the hard end of a feather that he rolled over as it stuck out from a pillow in his hotel room. Headline in the Chicago Tribune: “Mulholland loses pillow fight.”
Clint Barmes, 2005 — In his first full season with the Colorado Rockies, the middle infielder was leading National League rookies in several offensive categories when he fell and broke his collarbone. After initially claiming he was carrying groceries at the time, Barmes eventually admitted he was lugging a package of deer meat given to him by teammate Todd Helton. They both denied the accident occurred while Barmes was riding an all-terrain vehicle at Helton’s ranch, meaning that the only ATV involved in the incident was this painful lesson: avoid toting venison.
Marty Cordova, 2002 — On the surface, lying in a tanning bed would seem like an odd choice for someone whose profession involves spending copious amounts of time outdoors, but perhaps Cordova was unhappy with how he looked on his surface and was trying to even out a farmer’s tan. In any event, the Orioles’ outfielder apparently fell asleep at the salon, damaged his skin and was advised to stay out of the sun for a while, causing him to miss a day game for Baltimore.
Steve Sparks, 1994 — While in spring training with the then-woeful Brewers, Sparks decided to re-create a feat he saw when the team brought in some motivational speakers. Trying to tear a phone book in half was a bad idea, though, for an aspiring pitcher with a history of shoulder dislocations. “I figured if I kept my arm low I could do it,” Sparks recalled in 2013. “I had it halfway ripped apart when my shoulder popped out.”
Bret Barberie, 1994 — Before putting a contact lens in your eye, it’s best to not have been recently handling a chile pepper. Oof, that’s definitely a case where one Scoville unit is too many Scoville units. His vision understandably impaired, Barberie was briefly out of action for the Florida Marlins.
Rickey Henderson, 1993 — There are so many memorable quotes attributed to Henderson, accurately or not, that it would be believable if he had reacted to being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays by expressing concern about possibly getting frostbite. As it turned out, that’s exactly what happened. During August. In something of a mirror image of what happened to Cordova, Henderson reportedly fell asleep with an ice pack on his injured ankle, temporarily making matters worse before a World Series win presumably provided something more than cold comfort.
Best of the Rest
Blake Snell, 2019 — The Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher tried to move a decorative bathroom fixture that he didn’t realize was made of multiple pieces of granite, one of which fell and fractured his toe.
Yoenis Cespedes, 2019 — In yet another Great Moment in Mets History, the New York slugger broke an ankle when a wild boar broke loose at his ranch.
Trevor Bauer, 2016 — The Indians’ starter was forced to leave an American League Championship Series game after just 21 pitches because his stitches burst and he began bleeding from a wound he suffered a few days before while tinkering with a homemade drone.
Ian Stewart, 2015 — Hurt his nose after he startled his 4-year-old daughter, who was lying on her stomach in bed when the Los Angeles Angels infielder “kind of lunged at her” and hit his face on the back of her head.
Jonathan Lucroy, 2012 — The Brewers’ catcher said he was looking for a missing sock under a hotel room bed when his wife shifted a suitcase, which fell and broke his hand.
Kendry Morales, 2010 — The Angels’ first baseman hit a game-winning grand slam, then broke his left leg jumping on home plate while being mobbed by teammates.
Joel Zumaya, 2006 — The Tigers’ pitcher was sidelined during the American League Championship Series because of a sore wrist the team later blamed on his devotion to the Guitar Hero video game. Honorable mention: Oakland A’s pitcher Jesus Luzardo broke his pinkie this season after banging his pitching hand on a table while playing an unspecified video game; in 2018, Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price denied that a debilitating case of carpal tunnel syndrome was related to his many hours of playing Fortnite.
A timetable for Plesac’s return has yet to be determined. In the short term, his loss leaves the Indians in something of a bind after they sent starting pitcher Triston McKenzie back to the minors. Cleveland was already planning to use a mix of relievers for a game Wednesday against the Tigers, and now the team must find a replacement for what was Plesac’s scheduled start on Friday versus the Blue Jays.
Plesac’s freak injury came a week after the Atlanta Braves’ Huascar Ynoa broke his pitching hand punching a bench in the visiting dugout following a poor start in Milwaukee.
“It’s a shame,” Braves Manager Brian Snitker said of Ynoa. “Probably nobody that feels any worse than him.”