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Even with superior physical skills, elite athletes can be as klutzy as the rest of us
One guy needed a titanium plate and nine screws to fix the collarbone he broke while carrying deer meat. Another burned his hands trying to put out a candle. And then there are the geniuses who developed elbow problems after spending too many hours on the computer or playing video games.
A collection of klutzes trying to make it through a day without a bump or a bruise?
Hardly. These are some of the most athletic, agile people on the planet.
As New York Yankees reliever David Robertson reminded everyone last week, world-class athletes may be physical freaks of nature, able to do things that defy gravity and imagination. But everyday life can be a doozy of a challenge, even for them.
"It's embarrassing," said Robertson, who is missing a few spring training games to nurse the foot he bruised when he tripped down a step while taking boxes out to be recycled. "I'd rather be like, you know, I tripped over a chair in the clubhouse or something than tell you I fell down the stairs in my house. And not like a full flight of stairs ' just one stair."
He's by no means the first athlete done in by an "unusual" injury. Baseball players alone could fill up an ER when it comes to goofy accidents. Consider:
' Tampa Bay pitcher David Price had to leave a spring training start early last week with neck spasms brought on by drying his neck with a towel between innings.
' San Francisco Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt missed the last month of last season after cutting himself separating frozen hamburgers.
' Former Detroit Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya missed three games in the 2006 American League Championship Series with inflammation in his wrist and forearm, apparently the result of too many hours playing "Guitar Hero."
' The Marlins' Chris Coghlan, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year, tore the meniscus in his left knee while trying to deliver a celebratory pie in the face to a teammate in July 2010.
' Sammy Sosa once missed a month ' a month! ' after sneezing hard twice and spraining a ligament in his back.
' Former Cincinnati Reds catcher Joe Oliver slashed his forearm on a knife while emptying the dishwasher.
' Former outfielder Glenallen Hill, who had a fear of spiders, wound up on the disabled list after a nightmare about the critters sent him crashing into a wall.
"You can get some strange ones," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, adding that he knew a player who hurt himself putting together his daughter's play kitchen set.
Think of any sport, and odds are you'll find someone hurt while doing something, well, odd.
Stepping on broken glass at a restaurant wound up keeping Serena Williams off the tennis court for almost a year. Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi missed three weeks of training last fall because he forgot to take a nasal strip ' that's correct ' out of his shoe before the New York Marathon. It irritated his foot so badly it caused an infection. Mitch Seavey, the 2004 winner of the Iditarod, had to pull out of last year's race after nearly severing a finger opening a bale of bedding straw for his dogs.
On and on it goes.
"Those kinds of things aren't necessarily stupid things. They're not necessarily things they've done wrong. It's just part of life," said Marjorie J. Albohm, president of the National Athletic Trainers' Association. "Of course we look at them as superhuman beings because we watch them perform, as superhuman beings. For us to think, 'Gosh, she could actually sprain her toe getting out of shower? No way.' Yes, they're superhuman in the skills they perform. But in life, they're just normal people.
"It's just part of daily living, and you can't put yourself into a bubble."
No, but knowing that extraordinary athletes also have ordinary clumsy accidents does somehow make us mere mortals feel the tiniest bit better about ourselves when we run into a door or cut ourselves making dinner.
"They're the sort of things that remind us, yeah, they are human," said Ralph Reiff, executive director of St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis.
Right down to feelings that bruise as easily as any body part.
Ask Kendrys Morales about the ankle he broke when he and his teammates celebrated his game-ending grand slam two years ago, and you can almost hear the Los Angeles Angels first baseman groan.
"It happened," he said, "but I can't take it back."
AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum, Dave Campbell, Howard Fendrich, Jimmy Golen, Joe Kay, Jon Krawczynski, Fred Lief, John Marshall, Janie McCauley and Steven Wine contributed to this report.
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