Feeling he had missed too much time in his career with injury already, Rockies outfielder David Dahl didn’t report that his right shoulder hurt when he began throwing in January.
“I figured that I’d been on the DL a lot, and I needed to figure this thing out on my own and push through this,” Dahl said.
Well, that injury begat another, then another. But, finally, on Wednesday, Dahl and the Rockies announced that his season is over because of the shoulder issue. He will see orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon Jeffrey R. Dugas at the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday for a diagnosis.
Dahl’s injury history is familiar to Rockies fans. Last year, his first as an All-Star, ended after 100 games because of an ankle sprain. He missed time in 2018 with a fractured right foot. He missed all of 2017 with a stress reaction in a rib. Go back to the Minors and there was a hamstring strain and a ruptured spleen.
While one can see why he didn’t want to report yet another injury, fact is the injury didn’t go away.
“I wish I would have had them look at it in January or over quarantine, looking back at it now,” Dahl said. “But I just felt like, you know, maybe this is something I could push through or maybe it's just sore or I needed to throw more or do more [resistance] bands.
“It didn't work out that way.”
In fact, nothing worked out.
Dahl missed a few days with a core injury during Summer Camp, he suspects because he was compensating for the shoulder.
After struggling through the early part of the season, he went to the 10-day injured list on Aug. 18 with what was announced was lower back soreness, but Dahl said it actually was an oblique injury. While out, he underwent an MRI and said “everything went relatively pretty good,” so he took a cortisone shot and returned to the lineup on Sept. 12.
Much like Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, who this week shut down his season with a left shoulder injury, the problem is in the left-handed-hitting Dahl’s lead shoulder. Compensating robbed him of his ability to hit the opposite way or keep pull shots in the air in fair territory. Dahl shut it down after attempting three throws in one game and feeling pain.
“He just could never really get untracked this year,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “David’s expectation for this year was to follow up 2019 with another solid season here in 2020. But with many interruptions, the inability to get at-bats probably ended up hurting David as much as anybody.”
When he returned from the 2018 injury, Dahl hit nine home runs and drove in 27 runs in September during a postseason push. When healthy last year, Dahl was good enough for his peers to invite him to the Midsummer Classic. He is frustrated that injuries are as part of his story as his success when healthy.
“It’s just been freaky things, just bad luck,” he said. “Next year, I’ll be 27 and I’ve just got to figure this part of it out. I’ve got to be on the field, got to be available. The best players in the game, they’re out there every day.”
Right-handed reliever Scott Oberg, who missed this season dealing with blood clots in his right arm for the third time in his career, underwent surgery Wednesday for thoracic outlet syndrome. Dr. Darren Schneider of the University of Pennsylvania performed the procedure.
Oberg, 30, one of the top righty relievers in the Majors the last two years, also saw his 2016 and 2019 seasons ended early because of the blood clots. Oberg returned for Spring Training and Summer Camp healthy, but missed most of Summer Camp with lower back soreness. The clots cropped up again while throwing a live bullpen session trying to make it to the active roster.
Help for the bullpen
The Rockies placed Dahl on the 45-day injured list and filled his roster spot by selecting the contract of right-handed relief pitcher Tommy Doyle, the club’s No. 19 prospect and the 70th overall MLB Draft pick in 2017 out of the University of Virginia.
Doyle, 24, was invited to Major League Spring Training for the first time this year, after earning 19 saves and striking out 48 in 36 innings at Class A Lancaster in 2019. He is reinforcement for a gassed bullpen, but is considered a part of the club’s future relief plans.