If you happened to be counting on Chris Pettit as a backup outfielder for the Halos this season, anxious to see what the one-time Player of the Month in the organization had to offer at the major league level, you’re going to be waiting a little longer. During winter ball (that same beast that robbed Juan Rivera of pretty much all of 2007 and likely hurt his production in 2008 as well) there was a “baserunning mishap” that caused Petit to injure his shoulder, resulting in surgery to repair a torn labrum that will end Pettit’s season before it even starts.
While no one was expecting Pettit to set the world on fire, depth is never a bad thing to have in the majors and Pettit had a good chance of providing us with that. This will probably leave us with the trio of Reggie Willits, Robb Quinlan, and Terry Evans as OF backups, although I tend to think of Quinlan as more of a corner infield back up that Scioscia has some kind of weird man-crush on. He’s not exactly good at any of the positions, and personally I think Reggie Willits deserves a chance to show us whether his .391 OBP in 2007 was a fluke or not. I’m sure to some extent it was, but even if he can give us a .350-.360 OBP, it’s going to be better than we’ll get from Quinlan. And yes, I realize Willits has no power (and while “no power” is usually a way to describe guys that only hit a few HRs a year, in this case he literally has no power, and practically makes Chone Figgins look like a slugger with his 5 HRs in 2009), but he does provide us with some speed, which Quinlan does not, and Scioscia is clearly a guy that likes his speed.
Either way, we’re talking about backups here, so unless something happens to the trio of Rivera, Hunter, and Abreu (with Matsui likely contributing his own bad defense occasionally as well), none of these people will be getting significant ABs.
There was one more thing about the article on this injury over on the Angels’ official page that struck me as kind of interesting. While listing Pettit’s other injuries over the years, he called them all “freak injuries” that he had no control over. These included breaking his foot while running for a fly ball in the OF in 2008, and breaking his wrist in June of 2009. Pettit talks about how they were “things he couldn’t control,” but this seems to imply to me that most baseball injuries can be controlled. While there are examples, like Carlos Quentin back in 2008, of a player injuring themselves while slamming a bat or punching a wall or otherwise taking out his frustration on some unsuspecting inanimate object, most baseball injuries are things players generally have no control over. At some point, you can’t write off injuries like this as “freak injuries” and think you otherwise would’ve been healthy had these crazy random happenstances not occurred. Freak injuries are when pitchers are hit by a hard comebacker, like when Kaz Ishii was hit in the face back in 2002. Clint Barmes breaking his collarbone falling and breaking his collarbone while carrying around deer meat in 2005 is another freak injury. It’s something that was truly beyond your control (although I suppose Barmes could’ve tried not carrying deer meat). But when you’re injured while running after a ball or diving back to tag home, then you’re someone with some injury problems.
Maybe the whole “freak injuries beyond my control” thing is something Pettit has to tell himself to keep himself in a good state of mind, and if that’s the case then more power to him. If he has some Google Alert set up that somehow links him to this, then Chris, buddy, just know that everything I said above this was completely sarcastic. Oh.. this is sarcastic, too, Chris: The rest of us can handle the truth of it. If you’re injured a lot while playing baseball, even if you think it’s a “freak injury,” then the truth of the matter is simply that you’re injury prone.