Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Clay Buchholz Has Esophagitis

What is esophagitis? It's an inflammation of the esophagus. And Clay Buchholz has it.

It can have serious effects. Difficulty to swallow can lead to weight loss. Breathing problems can result. And in the case of Clay Buchholz, "an associated gastrointestinal bleed" can occur. This is drastic stuff. It's more than just an injury sidelining a ballplayer, this has potentially life-altering implications.

He was released from Mass. General late last night. Which is great news. There's no timetable on his return, but I'd expect him back just after the All-Star Break.

What causes esophagitis? Acid reflux can wear the tissue of the esophagus. Infections can also cause esophagitis. So can alcohol abuse.

Mr. Buchholz does enjoy a drink. So don't many of us. I'm in fact enjoying a Sam Summer as I write this post. Buchholz and I are the same age (27). Although he's 4 inches taller than I, and about 30 pounds lighter (in other words, he's significantly thinner). His body may be much better tuned to be a Major League pitcher, but my body is designed to handle a few drinks better than his is.

Buchholz has a reputation for drinking. He drank in the clubhouse last season. Starting pitchers have days off between starts and it's common practice for them to have a few after the games they're not involved in. And 99.9% of the time, nothing bad happens.

Maybe Clay's just unlucky. Maybe he's also a ridiculously skinny man drinking above his weight class. I don't know. I'm not a doctor. I'm just a drinker.

But this guy does seem to have recurring health issues. I'm not blaming him for this latest issue. It seems like something that could happen to anyone and be a complete shock. At the same time, this is a slender, gangly man. I'm not questioning his figurative guts, but his actual guts have let him down. I'm not questioning his figurative backbone, but that let him down last year. How long until he gets rotator cuff problems? How long until his delivery becomes too much of a stress for his shoulder?

He was pitching extraordinarily well this year when his belly started to bleed on the inside. He was doing well last year when he got a stress fracture in his back. He's only started more than 17 games in a season once in his career. As someone who's been in the Majors since 2008, even thrown a no-hitter, shouldn't he have more 20+ start seasons?

He seems like a guy that will always carry that "when healthy" disclaimer around with him. He's 27 years old and should be entering the prime of his career as a starting pitcher. Instead, he's being released from a hospital with gastrointestinal bleeding.

Something's not right here.

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