ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had their share of traumatic injuries over their 22 seasons. Anyone who was at the Trop the May 1999 day when Tony Saunders threw a pitch and broke his arm still remembers the horrific sound. Same with Alex Cobb getting hit in the head by a line drive in June 2013.
And they’ve dealt with plenty of unusual onfield incidents, from third-base coach Greg Riddoch blowing out his Achilles tendon during the inaugural 1998 season to Kevin Kiermaier’s triple play of a torn thumb ligament, fractured hip and broken hand.
But there also has been some downright freaky, weird, and — at least in retrospect — somewhat entertaining stuff that has hurt them over the years.
Most recently, of course, Blake Snell’s bathroom break.
After getting out of the shower last Sunday night, the Cy Young Award-winning pitcher but not-so-good home decorator decided to move a decorative stand in his bathroom. He said he didn’t realize it came apart, or that it could, and as he lifted it, the post, made of granite, fell on his right foot and broke his fourth toe.
“Really dumb,’’ the 26-year-old said.
So where does that rank among other odd injuries in Rays franchise history?
Glad you asked.
Among 10 or so, um, lowlights:
• In the most Rays injury ever, infielder Sean Rodriguez was wading in the Gulf of Mexico with his daughter one May 2010 day and was stung by an actual stingray, drawing blood and leading teammate Jason Bartlett to call 911. “‘I actually thought it was a catfish at first, that it grazed me. I didn’t think much of it,” Rodriguez said. “And then I got out of the water, and I was like, ‘Whoooaaaa!’ ”
• David Price had to leave a March 2012 spring game after his second inning because he strained his neck — by toweling off too vigorously while drying his head. “The towel just catches the back of my head, and it pulls my neck forward,” he said. Price shared that such a calamity had happened to him at least twice before. Also of note, he went on to win the Cy Young that year.
• Infielder Logan Forsythe was also done in by a towel, missing four games in August 2016 due to back spasms that started when he bent down to pick up a towel in the clubhouse. “I grabbed my towel, turned to throw it in the bin over there and just shutdown mode,” he said.
• Reliever Joel Peralta was more than hungry in spring 2013 when he strained his neck — getting out of his Camaro to pick up some Cuban sandwiches, which he said later were quite good. (The next year Peralta missed time after contracting the chikungunya mosquito-borne virus in his native Dominican Republic.)
• Star outfielder Carl Crawford missed an August 2003 game after spraining his right ankle while shagging balls in the outfield and colliding with Charlie LaMar, the then 10-year-old son of GM Chuck LaMar. (Charlie LaMar has since graduated from the Naval Academy, piloted planes and became a lieutenant, and soon-to-be captain, in the Marines.)
• Reliever Grant Balfour was forced to the corner for five key weeks of the 2010 season after straining intercostal muscles while roughhousing on the field during batting practice with pitching coach Jim Hickey. (BP also was tough on reliever Jim Mecir, who in 1999 fell, or was tripped, shagging balls and broke his right elbow.)
• DH Luke Scott went on the disabled list at the start of the 2013 season due to a calf strain, one of several muscle issues he said he thought were the result of drinking too much water, specifically a daily gallon of alkaline water.
• Infielder Matt Duffy, who has had his share of serious injuries, missed two games last season due to back spasms that occurred during his drive to the ballpark. “Just shifting my weight and turning the steering wheel,’’ Duffy said.
• Infielder Jeff Keppinger sustained a broken right big toe that kept him out a month in 2012 after being hit by a foul ball while sitting in the dugout, which had protective screening. “Wrong place, wrong time,” he said.
• And from the kids do the darnedest things department, first baseman Carlos Peña had to leave the opening game of the 2008 playoffs after two innings due to slightly blurred vision, having been poked in the eye before leaving home by his young daughter.
• That the Rays came home with the best record in the majors after a nearly two- week road trip and drew a total of 27,951 for three games against the Orioles says a lot about the market not responding to a winner, and it doesn’t say much about the potential for building a new stadium in St. Petersburg. Some cited Tuesday’s Lightning playoff game as a conflict, but the “crowd” of 9,842 that night was the largest of the three. Besides the obvious and somewhat valid reason of the Trop location, other excuses suggested on Twitter included an unappealing opponent in the Orioles, school night, too-good weather, snowbirds leaving town, youth leagues being under way. Hmmm.
• Of note, 17 minor-league teams, including the Rays’ Triple-A Durham affiliate, have already had crowds in excess of 9,000, a total of 28 times through Thursday.
• These snapshots can be taken and revised at any time, but it’s hard to think of another team that hit on as many offseason moves as the Rays appear to have done, adding Yandy Diaz, Avisail Garcia, Guillermo Heredia, Charlie Morton and Mike Zunino. And that after adding Tommy Pham, Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Michael Perez last year.
How does the Rays’ strong start impress? Jim Bowden wrote for The Athletic “it’s not premature to predict that they’ll be the team to beat in the division.’’ Fivethirtyeight.com’s computers project them, after Friday’s loss, to finish 92-70 and tied with the Yankees, fangraphs.com 90-72 and second, baseballprospectus.com 89-73 and second. … Good for former Ray Logan Morrison (finally) getting signed, a minor-league deal with the Yankees (and Gary Sanchez). Among other ex-Rays not playing are Denard Span and James Shields. … Fox Sports Sun reported Wednesday’s game versus Baltimore, to that point anyway, was its most watched of the season, with a 3.3 HH rating, though not sure about the news value in boasting that it “averaged more viewers locally than every MLB and NHL/NBA playoffs game.” It should, right? … Former Rays manager Joe Maddon’s future in Chicago seems tenuous, but he is soon opening a restaurant there — in partnership with Cubs ownership and concessionaire Levy, and on stadium grounds — called Maddon’s Post. There are also Tampa investors, including business partner Michael Stewart. … Reliever Jose Alvarado hung a large Venezuelan flag in an adjacent locker, saying he thinks often of the turmoil in his native country and is thankful his family is okay. … In an espn.com piece on “fake” jobs players use to avoid disclosing in casual conversation who they are, Mike Zunino says he claims to work in construction, having gotten some tips from his father-in-law, a contractor.
Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.