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20 years of the Rays: Recounting the 20 most memorable injuries

20/20 Vision: The 20 most memorable injuries in Rays history.
A frustrated David Price covers his head with a towel after coming out of the game in the sixth against the Mets at Tropicana Field Wednesday, June 13, 2012. JAMES BORCHUCK  |   Times
A frustrated David Price covers his head with a towel after coming out of the game in the sixth against the Mets at Tropicana Field Wednesday, June 13, 2012. JAMES BORCHUCK | Times
Published Mar. 25, 2018
Updated Mar. 25, 2018

With the Rays planning a year-long celebration of their 20th anniversary, the Times is taking a look back – with 20 lists of 20 things about those first 20 seasons.

Being a Rays fan over the years has been a painful experience, given the volume and variety of injuries, some dramatic and some — though not to the affected party — a bit amusing. With that in mind, here are the 20 most memorable injuries:

• LHP Tony Saunders sustained the most memorable and one of the most horrific when he broke his arm while throwing a pitch in a May 1999 game at the Trop, crumbling to the ground in incredible agony.

• Fitting their star-crossed path, star OF Carl Crawford missed an August 2003 game after spraining his right ankle colliding during pregame warmups with Charlie LaMar, the 10-year-old son of GM Chuck LaMar.

• In the most Rays-centric injury ever, INF Sean Rodriguez was wading in the gulf with his daughter and was stung by a stingray.

• LHP David Price had to leave a 2012 spring start due to a neck issue he caused by toweling off too vigorously in the dugout.

• RHP Joel Peralta missed some time in 2013 with one of those only-in-spring training injuries, straining his neck when he got out of his Camaro to pick up some Cuban sandwiches.

Check out the rest of Marc Topkin's coverage here, on:

20 words on the 20th anniversary
20 numbers to remember
The 20 weirdest moments
Tampa Bay's 20 'Forrest Gump moments'
20 years of Rays and 'the things we've loved' about them
Greatest moments in franchise history
Best signings, trades and deals
20 players who surprisingly finished with them
20 players you forgot ever played for them
20 most notable draft picks
20 Things we've hated over the years
The 20 best players
The 20 best quotes
The 20 worst players
Worst signings, trades and deals
Ranking every season

• C Dioner Navarro slipped coming off the field at Yankee Stadium, grabbed the protective netting on the dugout rail and ended up on the DL with cuts on his right hand.

• LHP Nick Bierbrodt was shot in the right arm and chest while in a taxi going through a Hardee's drive-through in Charleston, S.C., in June 2002. He recovered and returned to the majors but with little success.

• A few months later, another Rays pitcher in the minors, RHP Delvin James, was shot while at a Waffle House in Raleigh, N.C., as he and a friend were innocent bystanders to an altercation. James sustained only minor injuries and rejoined the Rays staff two weeks later.

• RHP Grant Balfour missed five key weeks of the 2010 season with an intercostal strain sustained while roughhousing with pitching coach Jim Hickey during BP.

• RHP Jeremy Hellickson was taken from Comerica Park in Detroit by ambulance and underwent a CAT scan and concussion testing after being struck on the head by a batting practice homer while throwing in the bullpen. Weirder? The ball was hit by former Ray Delmon Young.

• It's not only the players who get hurt. Third-base coach Greg Riddoch had to miss the final month of the inaugural 1998 season after tearing his Achilles tendon.

• RHP Ronald Belisario reported to spring training 2015 with a fracture in his left shoulder he said occurred weeks earlier while playing with his kids in a pool.

• Batting practice can be a treacherous time as RHP Jim Mecir broke his right elbow when he fell — or was tripped — shagging balls before a May 1999 game and missed the rest of the season.

• Joel Peralta went on the DL in 2014 after contracting the chikungunya mosquito-borne virus while visiting his native Dominican Republic during the All-Star break.

• Manager Lou Piniella had to be treated for small cuts after slamming and breaking the glass shower door in the visitor's manager's office in Chicago.

• The Rays' first foray into the Japanese market was the signing of RHP Shinji Mori for the 2016 season, but he reported to camp with soreness, and in his first minor-league exhibition, blew out his shoulder.

• RHP Juan Guzman signed a two-year, roughly $13 million deal going into the 2000 season, got five outs in his first start and didn't pitch again due to a shoulder injury.

• RHP Alex Cobb was taken off the field on a stretcher after being hit on the side of his head by an Eric Hosmer line drive in June 2013, missing two months due to a concussion and vertigo.

• Former prospect Taylor Guerreri was sidelined last spring after feeling light-headed while using the bathroom in his spring rental, falling and hitting his head on the bathtub.

• 2B Logan Forsythe missed several days in August 2016 after his back spasmed when he bent down to pick up a dirty towels.